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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

Spotlight on Holiday Zinfandels!!

The warm fuzzy feeling I get right about this time of the year can only mean one thing... I’ve been drinking some great Zinfandels recently! Yes, the most joyous, generous, luscious elixir of our Golden State, with its heady perfumes and decadent flavors is just perfect for December. You better believe I have some great choices up my sleeve: If there can be such a thing as grace and elegance within power, the 2002 Storybook Mountain “Mayacamas Range” Napa Zinfandel ($25.99) achieves it. Deep in the heart of Cabernet country, legendary owner/winemaker Jerry Seps has been quietly making world-class Zinfandel for over 20 years. This refined effort shows the beautiful and classy side of the powerful grape. True, premium, dinner-friendly Zinfandel is so hard to come by nowadays, but you’ll find exactly that here! Not too hot or too ripe, it’s just right for a fairytale romantic evening for two. 2002 Storrs “Rusty Ridge” Santa Clara Zinfandel ($24.99) Santa Clara Zinfandel, yes indeed! This wine’s made up of a couple old vineyards perched on two ridges of rust-colored, iron-rich volcanic soils that add a touch of personality, as you’d expect. Dry farming and meticulous attention produced a wine of amazing concentration and varietal identity. One of the rare, but incredible Zinfandels made entirely from Bay Area fruit. 2003 Scott Harvey “Old Vine” Amador Zinfandel ($19.99) Old-vine Zins achieve some of their greatest expressions and concentration in Amador County, and this wine’s a fine example. The tarry, spicy deep black fruit comes out strong and persuasive. The nose reminds me of those Christmasy sweet baking aromas of nutmeg and clove that warm the heart and soften the worries of the day. In fact, this one just begs for a fireplace, the clink of glassware and the hum of joyous holiday parties! Enjoy! —Martin Reyes

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