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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

The Gift of Cabernet

When giving a gift for Christmas or New Years, there is always one constant: You want the gift to make an impression on the person who receives it. Something that is recognizable in its name as well as being high quality. Nothing says Happy Holidays like a bottle of Cabernet, especially from Napa Valley. The 2001 Trefethen Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.99) not only makes a great gift, but it is also a delicious wine to drink. Crafted from a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec and petit verdot, this 2001 is rich in the nose with red berry-cherry fruit and enticing cedar cigar box aromas. The hillside fruit adds spice and dusty characteristics. The palate is lush and full. The use of oak is masterfully integrated so as to provide perfect spice without an overshadowing influence. This is wine can be enjoyed now but will develop over the next five years or so in a cellar. The next wine I would recommend would be the 2001 Paradigm Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($49.99). This comes from the Oakville appellation, the heart of the Napa Valley. It shows a big, rich structure and balance, with a hint of cedar, plums and mint. It will definitively open up with decanting. Drink over the next 10 years. Of course, if you want to go all out this year pick up a bottle of 2002 Joseph Phelps Napa “Insignia” ($109.00) for that special someone. This wine is a monster in its weight and fruit component. Amazingly, the wine still comes of soft and fleshy. This is due to the tannins being so ripe and integrated, and the fruit being as intense as it is. This wine will age but it does show a lot better than the 2001 did at this stage. If you are looking for a soft, rich and ripe Cab to bring to a dinner this holiday season, look no further than the 2002 Pine Ridge Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99). This wine shows a lush, rich texture and plenty of spicy berry and currant fruit that lingers on to the finish. So for the holidays this year, forget about a silk tie or keychain for a gift; stick to Cabernet, and you can’t go wrong!

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