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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

San Francisco Focus

2002 Stony Hill Chardonnay ($26.99) This chardonnay has always been my favorite in California. This chardonnay is beautifully balanced with tropical fruit, melon and apple. Good acidity with now oak showing in the mouth or nose. Perfect! 2002 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon ($59.99) This cabernet was in my top 5 in 2001. The 2002 was a bit unbalanced when I tried it 6 months ago but it has definitely found itself now. A fruit-forward style of cab with great structure and finesse. This wine is great now but will hold for another 10 years. 1999 Whitethorn “Hyde” Pinot Noir ($34.99) My favorite pinot in the store and a favorite for all the staff in San Francisco. This wine is almost perfect. Cherry fruit, balance, spice and earthiness all rolled up with a seamless finish. If you love pinot, this wine is a must. Perfect for any holiday dinner or party. 2003 Woodenhead “Buena Tierra” Pinot ($44.99) I wrote up the 2002 in October, and the 2003 definetly deserves to get your attention. A more forward style of pinot, with raspberry, cassis and hints of white pepper and earth. Made by William Selyem veteran Nikolai Stez. 86 cases produced. Happy Holidays, and see you in the City... —Mike Jordan

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