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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

The Great Come Back!

Perched on a rocky plateau overlooking the town of Paulliac, Château Pedesclaux shares position with such graces as Mouton-Rothschild, Lafite-Rothschild, Lynch-Bages and Pontet-Canet. Pedesclaux hasn’t always been at the top of its capacities. The château received 5th growth classification in 1855. After World War II it was purchased by the Jucla family. Renovations of the estate began in 1996 when the two youngest Juclas took over the management, and improvements are tangible. It’s planted with traditional Médoc grapes averaging 35 years (50% cabernet sauvignon, 45% merlot, 5% cabernet franc), and then matured for 18 months in 33% new oak. The 2002 Ch. Pedesclaux ($24.99) is opaque and deep in color with aromas of ripe dark fruit, and spices on the nose. The palate opens slowly introducing you to tender fruit with a touch of earthiness that evolves to light notes of coffee and tobacco. This is a great wine that will age well over the next 5-8 years. Three other noteworthy values under $20 are from the great 2003 vintage. 2003 Ch. Perron ($18.99), Lalande-de-Pomerol, is primarily merlot and has a dandy black berry and gravelly nose. Bright cherry hints with bits of cassis and plum are the main characters on the palate. 2003 Ch. Serilhan ($19.99), Saint-Estèphe, has undertones of earth and leather on the nose and palate. This wine provides the opportunity to explore dense black fruit and spice. It’s ready to drink now! A rarity in St-Estèphe. From a small appellation, Listrac-Médoc, 2003 Ch. Saransot-Dupre ($17.99) is a merlot-based wine. This beauty is aged in 30% new oak barrels creating hints of spice, and cassis exploding on the nose. This wine offers supple tannins that makes it approachable today. Enjoy now and over the next couple of years. —Alexandre Brisoux

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