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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

Jim C’s View Down Under

2004 Gravitas “St. Arnaud Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand ($15.99) This wine shows great intensity with a bouquet full of melon, passion fruit, white grapefruit, citrus, wet stone and minerals. These elements follow on the palate with great balancing acidity and superb length that is precise and pure. 2000 Petaluma Cabernet-Merlot Coonawarra South Australia ($19.99) Here’s a chance to try a classic Coonawarra blend for HALF PRICE, that was given 91 points from Wine & Spirits. This wine, made of equal parts cabernet sauvignon and merlot, offers aromas of mint, currant, dark cherry, tobacco leaf and minerals. On the palate, the wine has good acidity with gravelly fine dusty tannins that lend structure to the components above and lead to a fine finish. 2004 Water Wheel “Memsie” Bendigo Victoria ($9.99) This one got 90 points from the Wine Spectator AND Robert Parker. The dark purple color leads to juicy black and blueberry fruit with notes of earth and licorice. A GREAT bargain. 2004 Sylvan Springs “Hard Yards” Shiraz Vale South Australia ($14.99) This wine is lovely. It shows supple silky peppery cassis and blackberry fruit with some earthy notes. The palate reveals fine balance with good acidity and excellent length. Another fine value. Happy New Year! —Jimmy C

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