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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

January’s Picks

Just before I started working for K&L, I went to Vinitaly with Greg, and we did a little wine tour through Austria, the Alto Adige and then to Friuli where we stayed at Volpe Pasini. There are seven rooms inside this 17th century villa. You can go to their website for room rates and availably (www.volpepasini.net). One warning though: There’s a church across the street, and at 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. the bell tower goes off!! Not just six or nine bongs, either. A full fifteen minutes of CLANGING and BONGING with no tune or rhythm. Not enjoyable. We did, however, enjoy their wines. Years later we are still enjoying them! 2004 Volpe Pasini Chardonnay ($12.99) This medium-bodied Chardonnay will take you away from the winter blues. Crisp with lots of green apple and minerals, you will also find some tropical fruits on the finish along with high acidity. Try this wine as an aperitif or with mushroom risotto. 2004 Volpe Pasini Sauvignon Zuc di Volpe ($21.99) 100% stainless steel, this Sauvignon on the nose will make you think Bordeaux and New Zealand with classic cut grass and grapefruit. On the palate you will find gooseberry, lime zest, slate with nice length to this dry white. Think tomato and basil salad or shellfish. 2004 Volpe Pasini Ribolla Gialla ($18.99) Ribolla is an indigenous grape, it distinguishes itself for its great liveliness and elegant balance, restrained flavors of golden delicious apples and cantaloupes with good complexity and a long finish. Serve with prosciutto and aged cheeses or white meat dishes. 90 points Wine Spectator. Salute! —Mike Parres

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