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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

Two Luscious Rhônes to Give Thanks for!

2001 Coteaux du Tricastin, Domaine de Grangeneuve “Vielles Vignes” ($13.99) Tricastin is the fastest growing region in the Rhône Valley. About forty years ago, this area was barren. Once France relinquished its authority over Algiers, many of the French natives of Algiers came to Tricastin. Renewed interest in the area resulted in the planting of over 5,000 acres, and the area is far from barren today. Domaine de Grangeneuve, founded in 1964 by Odette and Henri Bours, is one of the top two estates in Tricastin. Production of all wines produced at Domaine Grangeneuve is an amazingly small 2000-3000 cases per year! This wine comes through with pure Rhone fruit, balanced minerality and ample but not aggressive spices. A blend of 50% grenache and 50% syrah with the syrah fruit really shining through. A fine and elegant nose of tart cherries, minerals, herbs, spices and violets. In the mouth, the initially tart cherry fruit segues into ripe, red plums and strawberry fruit. A truly amazing wine for under $14.00! 2004 Cotes de Ventoux, Domaine de Fondreche “O Sud” ($13.99) At Domaine de Fondreche, winemaker Sebastien Vincenti (formerly of Châteauneuf-du-Pape) joined forces with neighbor Didier Robert to create “O” Sud. The heart of this wine comes from 50 acres in the Ventoux. The Domaine de Fondreche “O Sud” is a blend of syrah, grenache and cinsault. Stainless steel aging lets a rich nose of ripe cherries, glycerin, lavender and faint anise notes shine through. On the palate, charming, silky, jammy dark cherry fruit that is full and lush with white pepper and dusty notes that carry over onto the finish. One of the things that both these wines have in common is the extraordinary combination of quality and value they both represent. —Scott Beckerley

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