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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

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo!

2001 Vina Izadi Rioja Crianza ($14.99) 2001 Vina Izadi Rioja Reserva ($23.99) I love the wines from Vina Izadi! The winery is located in the heart of the Basque section of the Rioja known as the Rioja Alavesa. Grown on calcareous clay soils, tempranillo achieves great richness and delicacy. Both the Crianza and the Reserva wines are from the fabulous 2001 vintage, which is the greatest vintage in Rioja since 1964. The wines are made from a blend of 90% tempranillo, 5% graciano and 5% mazuelo. Aged for 14 months in American oak, the Crianza is full of ripe black cherry fruit with a solid core of structure and tannin. Enjoy this wine now with braised pork shoulder, or it has plenty of stuffing to age for several years. The Reserva wine, made only in the best of years, is aged for 25 months in a mix of French and American oak. Big and bold, this red has plenty of rich, ripe fruit intermingled with aromas of spice cake and vanilla. The power and depth of this wine make it a great cellar candidate of 5 to 10 years. 2001 Arzuaga Crianza, Ribera del Duero ($26.99) 2003 Pago Florentino, Arzuaga, La Mancha ($15.99) Founded in 1990, Bodegas Arzuaga-Navarro is located right next door to the venerable Vega Sicilia. Florentino Arzuaga makes Riberas of great depth and elegance. Made from a blend of tinto fino (aka tempranillo) with a bit of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, their 2001 Crianza shows all the hallmarks of this top vintage. Round, ripe blackberry/cherry fruit is balanced with a long elegant finish. This wine would do well with 3-7 years time in your cellar. The Pago Florentino is their new project in La Mancha. Made from 100% cencibel, the local name for tempranillo, the wine is aged for 8 months in a mixture of French and American oak. The big flashy, ripe fuit and long spicy finish make this wine a great choice for the local specialty, Manchego cheese! Buen Provecho! —Anne Pickett, anne@klwines.com

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