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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

Bargains and more for the Holidays!

2000 Grand Enclos du Cerons Blanc (.375ml) ($14.99) Cerons is an area just to the north of Sauternes and Barsac known for producing value-priced sweet wines. This 100% semillon is aged in oak barrels to add extra richness to the lively, tropical botrytised fruit. Zesty and complex with citrus, honey and orange, this is great with foie gras, cheese or fruit-based desserts. 2004 La Peyrere du Tertre, Clairet ($12.99) This rustic and hearty rosé is a wine of terrior, showing flavors of earth, juicy raspberry, stony minerality and rose petal. Made from a blend of 80% merlot and 20% cabernet sauvignon aged in oak for three months, this can definitely stand up to rich food yet has enough fruit to sip by the glass. Just 300 cases produced each year. 2000 Ch Laforge, St-Emilion ($19.99) This ridiculously low-priced offering from the glorious 2000 vintage starts out with sweet, seductive aromas of dark fruit, oak and roasting coffee. The rich palate shows flavors of sweet currants, ripe plums, mocha, minerals, toast and chocolate, which are long and mouth coating. Round, gentle and almost too easy to drink. 2000 La Cardonne, Médoc ($14.99) According to the Wine Spectator: “Lovely aromas of crushed berries, chocolate and smoke follow through to a medium-bodied palate, with fine tannins and a clean finish. Well-done. Best after 2005.” 2001 Ch Margaux, Margaux ($164.99) The most elegant wine of the First Growths in 2001. This blend of 82% cabernet sauvignon, 7% merlot, 7% petit verdot and 4% cabernet franc is seamless and complex. 93 points Parker and 92 points Spectator. —Steve Bearden

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