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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

A Wine to Love

Olivet Lane vineyard is an incredibly desirable source of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit in the Russian River appellation of Sonoma. The grapes are higly sought after by wineries such as Williams Selyem and Merry Edwards, but the way to buy is directly from the owners of the vineyard under their own Olivet Lane label. Pellegrini Family owns this vineyard, and under the astute direction of Robert Pellegrini these wines are truly world class. Both wines are wonderful values and have proven themselves with our staff and our customers. Give each a try and see for yourself how you can buy cult level wines at great prices. The 2002 Olivet Lane Pinot Noir ($19.99) is wonderfully opulent with nice dark cherry fruit filling the palate, accented by delicate notes of sweet spices, blackberry, integrated oak and a long plush finish. Good tannins provide structure, but the velvety texture of the wine smoothes these out into a wine that is hard to resist right now. This is luxury in a bottle, and at a price we all can afford. This is truly new world-style Pinot Noir at its best and avoids the ultra-extraction crutch that hides the true character of Pinot while exhibiting the unctuous ripeness that the Russian River appelation uniquely adds to the world of Pinot styles. The 2003 Olivet Lane Chardonnay ($14.99) also shows how great the Russian River can be for the prodction of world-class Chardonnay, with a wonderful offering of ripe pear to apple fruit with notes of stone, cinnamon and a touch of vanillin oak. With all this ripe fruit, you might expect a lack of acidity or structure, but it comes through here in this great food wine. This is a Chardonnay to please everyone! Consistent year after year, this has been a favorite of our customers (and staff) consistently. —Shaun Green

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