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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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Thursday
Oct132005

Great Choices from all Over the Map

Happy beginning of the holidays, everyone. I cannot believe that this year has passed already and that we are into Thanksgiving and Christmas time (Don’t I say this every year?). As of this writing (September 28th), our winemaking group has yet to receive any grapes; they are not ripe at this point. This harvest has been very late, and the only positive side to it is that we hope for no rain and tons of hang-time with warm, not extremely hot weather. The other problem that I noticed is that many of the vines are beginning to go dormant and shut down due to the fact that we have been averaging ten to fifteen degrees cooler than normal—not good for a late vintage. The positive side to this, Indian Summer gave us a call today for the first time with temperatures into the 90s… It’s about time! We just landed some incredible directly imported, reasonably priced Bordeaux. Let me begin with the 2003 Château Saint Hilaire Queyrac, Médoc ($14.99), a blend of cabernet sauvignon (50%), merlot (45%) and cabernet franc (5%), which is an incredibly lush, well-rounded, new-world fruit-driven wine. Deep ruby in color, the nose explodes with focused currants, roasted coffee bean and blackberries. In the mouth, this is an incredibly broad, fleshy wine with soft, silky tannins, ripe fruit, good complexity, cedary undertones and a long, warm finish. Anderson says for all of you to do yourselves a flavor: Buy a case or two at this price and enjoy. Another Bordeaux, the 2003 Château Souvenir Bordeaux Superieur ($9.99), that we have been importing for nearly ten years, is a wonderful drink-me-now red. A blend of merlot (60%), cabernet franc (20%), and cabernet sauvignon (20%), the nose is typical of this ’03 vintage, showing ripe, lush curranty to blackberry fruit with just a hint of minerality and no oak interference that carries over through a broadly fruited, soft tannin impression and a finish that lingers. A great value that will drink nicely for the next five years. Believe it or not, we are still finding some 2000 and 2001 Bordeaux to buy that are not only good, but totally pocketbook friendly. The 2001 Château de Francs, Cotes de France “Les Cerisiers” ($12.99) is a wonderfully dense, ripe wine that shows tons of lush, concentrated cassis to black currant fruit with just a hint of cranberry and cedar on the nose and in the mouth. As with many of the 2001s, the fruit is broad, round and forthcoming but with excellent acid structure. This puppy should drink fantastically well for the next 5 to 8 years. Anderson has told me that this and the above two reds will be our house reds for the month. We might even serve it with our Thanksgiving wild turkey, if he can catch another one. The 2003 Blason wines were big hits in our store last year. How do the Blasons do this and charge such reasonable prices? I think they function under the age-old atitude that wine is a food source meant to be consumed on a daily basis versus a collector’s art piece. Thank you, Giovanni. The 2004 Blason Friuli Pinot Grigio ($7.99) gushes with jasmine aromas. The mouth is lush, rich, yet clean, crisp and viscous across the tongue, and the finish is to die-for. This is absolutely wonderful and one of the best Pinot Grigios I have ever put in my mouth! How much is it? Greg, are you kidding? Eby has told me that this will be our house white for the month. We hope you enjoy this month’s selections! —Jim, Anderson, and Eby

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