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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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Monday
Nov142005

Bargain Bubbles

I adore a glass of bubbles! Champagne or sparkling, traditional or methode ancestale, a glass of bubbles is often my go-to wine, my “energy drink” for when I am in need of a bit of sophistication and verve in my life. This month I have two sparkling wines that fit the this description. They are also, for different reasons, delicious! NV Cerdon du Bugey Methode Ancestrale Domaine Renardat-Fache ($16.99) Mon Dieu, this wine is good! A sip of this demi-sec sparkling rosé (located near Savoie in eastern France) is like caressing a soft cheek or getting licked on the nose by the cutest puppy in the world. Rose petals, crushed sweet strawberries and vibrant cranberry twang make this sparkling wine a perfect option as an aperitif, or with spicier Thai, Vietnamese or Indian fare. My good customer Jay Denao has also reported that a glass of Cerdon de Bugey with fresh strawberries and rose water-infused whipped crème is sublime. YOWZAH!! Feeling overworked, or under-appreciated? Just pour yourself a glass of Cerdon de Bugey, look in the mirror at your beautiful, smart sexy self and say, “I love me!” A second offering is once again from the man, the master, Jean-Louis Denois. I remain in awe of this vintner, who crafts wines of seamless beauty and elegance time and time again. Our most recent arrival is the 2002 Jean-Louis Denois Tradition Brut ($14.99), which is composed of 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir from vineyard sites located at the foothill of the Pyrenees near the town of Roquetaillade. The climate in the western Languedoc is cool and sunny, which provides ideal growing conditions for the slow maturation of the grapes and ultimately a perfect balance between fruit and acidity. Jean-Louis first ferments the Tradition in old oak barrels. A second fermentation takes place in bottle where it then spends 18 months sur lees before being disgorged. The wine is simply gorgeous with hues of golden honey and an astonishingly long bead. On the palate hazelnuts, marzipan and a touch of sandalwood lend an element of elegance and richness to the wine which belie this bubbly’s modest price. A glass of this will be much appreciated at both festive occasions as well as the end of a hard day when you want to treat yourself right! —Mulan Chan

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