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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

Rhone Beauty

This holiday season I have decided that my gift giving will fall under two categories. Not because this will make my life easier (admittedly, it will), but because books and wine are two things that have enriched my life exponentially. I can honestly say that I have never, ever regretted buying a book. Each time I recall some memorable literary fact or experience I am so grateful that I invested in myself by taking the time to read a book. For me, this same sentiment goes for wine, as I have never regretted pulling a bottle of wine from my modest cellar to enjoy with family or friends. Opening a bottle of wine that I purchased, let’s say 10 years ago, is like reconnecting with an old friend, or re-reading one of my favorite books. Great wines grow more deep, complex and beautiful as they age. Each time I drink a great wine, I thank myself for investing in this life lesson and only hope that I will age half as gracefully. One such wine that I will not regret keeping in my cellar is the 2003 Côte Rotie Bernard Burgaud ($49.99). This northern Rhône syrah is simply superb, exhibiting wonderful ripe cherry, kirsch and rich, meaty flavors. On the finish, notes of sous bois, black olives and smoke provide additional complexity and dimension. And despite the atypically warm 2003 vintage, this Côte Rotie displays a substantial amount of acidity (this is a good thing!). I have purchased several bottles of this vinous beauty for myself and for gifts this holiday season, and am looking forward to reconnecting with this old friend in 5 or 10 years. —Mulan Chan

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