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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

Italian Wine for the Year's most American Holiday

2004 Palladino Gavi del Commune di Gavi ($17.99) Okay, the grape is cortese, and this wine is from Serralunga D’Alba. One of this producer’s most popular wines. Low temperature fermentation in stainless steel and then aged for 18 months in Slovenian oak. Beautifully balanced you will find peaches, pear and minerality and a chalky finish. Will work as an aperitif or with light fish dishes and fresh cheeses. 2002 Savese Picchieri “Le Petrose” Primitivo del Taranto IGT ($15.99) Primitivo and zinfandel share the same DNA, as one Puglian put it, “They are like twins separated at birth.” This wine’s bouquet has plum and currant and the palate brings plum jam, blackberries and raspberries notes with under tones of hay and oriental spice. This full-bodied wine will show best with red meats, game and stews. Poggiarellino is one of those small boutique wineries in the town of Montalcino. Small production, HUGH values. 2003 Poggiarellino Rosso di Montalcino ($13.99) Baby Brunello at its best! This rosso is aromatic, balanced with the terroir of Montalcino. Bright fruit jumps out on the palate, raspberries and black cherries rounded off with touches of leather, spice and a cherry stone bitterness on the finish. Try with aged Pecorino or a Tri-tip steak. Yum! 2000 Poggiarellino Brunello di Montalcino ($29.99) Yes, that’s right, $29.99 for a Brunello! Needs a couple of hours of decanting, and this baby is good to go. On this full-bodied wine you will find plum, chocolate and cherries dancing with smooth and silky tannins. This Brunello will age well for another four to five years, but no need to wait. Prefect accompaniment to hearty pork dishes or the classic accompaniment: wild boar! Salute! —Mike Parres

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