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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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Tuesday
Dec202005

French Regional Wines

This month I would like to share with you two of my favorite French regional wines here at K&L. First, the AOC of Faugéres is a tiny 1800 ha, to the north of Béziers in the foothills of the Cévennes, composed of an outcrop of pure schist that is known for its pungent, intense and concentrated wines. Though plantings are in decline, this is an area in which the carignan can reveal its subtlety, finesse and haunting perfume. The 2003 Château de la Liquière Vieilles Vignes Faugères ($15.99) is a lovely example of what happens when a talented wine maker meets old vines (50 to 100 years old) and great terroir. The old-vine carignan and grenache planted on poor schistous soils yield just a few, intensely flavored grapes that translate into a wine redolent of violets, red and black fruits and notes of garrigue, that intoxicating scent of wild herbs, warm earth and roasted meats. Despite the heat of 2003, the wine is amazingly fresh and balanced on the palate with a fine minerality, elegant tannins and a very long finish. This wine can be cellared mid-term but it so delicious now you’ll soon want to enjoy some with all manner of hearty fare. I would also like to recommend a second wine which hails from the Savoie region of France directly across from the swiss border. The 2004 Chignin Domaine Quenard ($10.99) is composed of a little know varietal known as jacquere, and although somewhat esoteric in nomenclature, I am certain that it is not so in taste or likeability. Having cracked crab? Open a bottle of this delicate Savioe blanc and watch your tastebuds sing! Or, as a bright, and refreshing counterpoint to rich raclette or fondue, this jaunty little wine will seal the deal as a natural food wine pairing. Fresh, zingy green apples, creamy pear and gorgeous acidity make trying this little white a no brainer! —Thornton Jacobs

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