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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

Two Rhônes to End the Year with!

2003 Vacqueyras, La Bourgeat ($14.99) This blend of old-vine syrah, grenache and mourvèdre is completely unfiltered. Add this fact to the weightiness of the 2003 vintage and you have a wine that just says “Wow, notice me!” The initial nose is one of black fruits, particularly extremely ripe black cherries. Scents of gravel and spice box also waft out of the glass. Ten minutes later, pomegranate juice makes a not so subtle appearance. On the palate, black cherries that are slightly tart come out to greet you with boysenberries and dry raspberry fruit. Good acidity and low tannin with a finish of spice and light anise. Fleshy with a medium length finish. A perfect match with wintry roasts, stews and game birds. 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine de la Cote de l’Ange ($28.99) One of most pleasurable things about this wine is the color. A beautiful, dark garnet. Hold it up to the light and see it for yourself. Pour it into the glass and watch it stick to the sides like glycerin. In the mouth, big dark blackberry and boysenberry fruit. Traces of both white and black pepper on the finish. A lengthy finish that actually improves after a couple of hours of decanting. I let this wine open up while watching two very mediocre episodes of Night Gallery from the early 1970s. It was Halloween, after all. In any case, the marvelous structure and quality of this wine offset what was not Rod Serling’s best. I think that the next time that I drink this wine, I will be watching The Twilight Zone. A quality show to go with a quality wine. Now, that’s a match! Have a very happy holiday season and many thanks for your patronage in 2005! —Scott Beckerley

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