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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
Jan242006

2004 Girardin Whites

2004 is an excellent vintage for white Burgundy. The more I taste, the better I like it. This month the 2004 Vincent Girardin wines have arrived. Vincent is a 5th generation grower in Santenay but has also established a thriving negociant business, known for his excellent whites. The 2004 Girardin St-Aubin Murgers “Dent de Chien,” 1er Cru ($29.99) is from the vineyard next to Puligny-Montrachet “Champ Gain,” 1er Cru and has minerality, focus and length. The 2004 Girardin Meursault “Les Tillets” ($36.99) comes from one of my favorite village vineyards in Meursault, which shows a pretty citric note and classic Meursault richness. The 2004 Girardin Puligny-Montrachet “Les Enseignères” ($46.99) is from the vineyard directly below Bâtard and shares the topsoil of that Grand Cru, so it is very rich and concentrated. The 2004 Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet “Les Truffieres,” 1er Cru ($49.99) has lime notes and a bright quality that is very appealing. The 2004 Girardin Puligny-Montrachet “Les Pucelles,” 1er Cru ($79.99) is always a favorite, located next to Bâtard and Bienvenues-Bâtard, but selling for much less. Similarly well situated is the next vineyard up the hill, which makes the 2004 Girardin Puligny-Montrachet “Les Caillerets,” 1er Cru ($81.99) alongside Montrachet itself, and generally acknowledged as the best of the Puligny 1er Crus. We also have tiny quantities of the 2004 Girardin Corton-Charlemagne ($83.99), 2004 Girardin Chevalier-Montrachet ($179.95) and 2004 Girardin Montrachet ($330.00). Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg

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