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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

Start the New Year with Domaine Barraud

Denis Barraud’s estate is on the slope of the Roche de Vergisson. The Roche is a giant Basalt outcropping in the Mâcon. What makes this an exceptional place for chardonnay? It is the soil surrounding the Roche, highly folded and well drained limestone. From these slopes, depending on the specific soils, comes Pouilly Fuisse, Saint Veran, or Mâcon Vergisson. After the scorching heat of the 2003 vintage, the 2004 comes across as a refreshing late afternoon breeze, cool and long yet full of life. It was a long harvest, beginning on September 18 and continuing until October 12. Barraud does not like to chapitalize, and he kept his fruit on the vine long enough so that it was not necessary. This year we are proudly offering both the St-Veran and the Pouilly-Fuisse here at K&L. 2004 Denis Barraud St-Veran ($13.99) A mixture of stainless steel and a small percentage of oak; only the oldest vines that are capable of handling the oak go into barrel. The wine exhibits good weight and length. The aromatics and flavors range from bright citrus, soft floral, to lush tropical and pineapple, but always framed with good acidity and minerality. 2004 Denis Barraud Pouilly-Fuisse ($18.99) This wine comes from vines on the lower slopes of his Pouilly-Fuisse parcels and is a serious step up from the previous wine with more oak, battonage and longer aging before bottling, and on the technical side and in the glass, more weight and length. Again the fruit tones are dominantly citrus; with more oak influence and hints of vanilla and spice. On the palate the wine sparkles with good texture crisp acidity and lingering minerality. Both of these will drink beautifully over the next year or so. With crab season in full swing, you will not want to be without a bottle. —Kirk Walker

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