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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

Pure Austrian Style

I know I’ve written about this before, and I will continue to pound away at the subject till the day I die… PURITY. I refuse to accept any wine that has been muddled over by some scientist, wearing a sterile white lab coat, who could care less about the juice he or she is now manipulating into “wine.” I want wines made from a farmer, someone who has a passion for the land on which he or she drops blood, sweat and tears. Someone who can step outside and have a complete understanding of what nature is doing all around them, to know it is time to prune based solely on instinct and the feeling that they have in their bones, not some chart. With these people, come wines with tradition, honor. They have a distinct, pure, presence of place, wines that speak to you, wines that represent the people and the land from which they come. That’s the passion I want. I want to shake a winemaker’s hand and feel the life of the vineyard through that handshake. Had enough? Try these on for size… 2004 Peter Schandl Furmint ($14.99) Due to its long maturation, this varietal has an extremely unique acid balance. Clear, ripe fruits like apple and quince explode upon your senses, and then take a sip. Its long, expressive finish will then win you over. 2004 Weingut Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC ($17.99) A zippy, refreshing wine that is a step or two above your “entry level” grüner. Well structured and precise, this little gem will keep you thinking well after you have finished the bottle. —Eric Story

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