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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

Lovely Bargains to Start Off the New Year!

2004 Château St. Jean des Graves, Blanc ($10.99) 90% sauvignon blanc makes this wine steely and clean. There is no oak to obscure the flavors of grapefruit, citrus and fresh melon, which are bright and racy. This is zippy, lively white Bordeaux at its best! Great with shellfish or goat cheese. 2004 Château Roquefort, Bordeaux Blanc ($9.99) This 85% sauvignon blanc wine is a bit rounder (due to 15% semillon) and more herbaceous than the St. Jean but still has plenty of lively acidity. Here we have a somewhat richer more nuanced blend that could stand up to stronger cheeses or even fish in a sauce but still retains a juicy by-the-glass appeal. Easy to drink and easy to buy! 2000 Château La Cardonne, Médoc ($14.99) From Bordeaux’s greatest vintage ever comes a great bargain. This starts with lusty aromas of toast, coffee and herb that leap out of the glass. The palate is clean, fresh and firm showing lots of dark fruit and a touch of spice on the substantial finish. This is food friendly, affordable and got 89 points from the Wine Spectator. 2003 Les Gravettes, Côtes de Bourg ($12.99) The satellite region of Côtes de Bourg is home to many tasty, bargain-priced wines, and this lush beauty is a perfect example. Ripe berries gush from this merlot-based gem with juicy cherries rounded out by a chocolaty finish showing very mild tannin. This is a traditionally made wine done in a more modern style for early drink ability. —Steve Bearden

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