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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

Ermacora Values!

Seven vintages ago we started importing wines from Ermacora, a small family winery (pronounced er-MA-ko-ra. It took me two years to get it right). They were always much better known within Italy where they’d been awarded multiple Gambero Rosso awards. We began to slowly build the brand here, year after year our sales staff suggesting these wines until now Ermacora is one of K&L's most sought after label. The brothers Ermacora (Dario & Luciano) live amongst the vines at their small winery in the Colli Orientali del Friuli, just a few miles from the Slovenian border. Although they have all the most modern technology, their motto states: “Do little, in order to do better.” True farmers at heart, they believe wine is made in the vineyard. I visited with them in Ipplis, the tiny village where they live, this past April to taste their 2004 vintage. I had just been to Vinitaly and was stunned by the quality of almost everything I tasted from 2004—red, white, Trentino, Sicily, Tuscany, Piedmont, Friuli, everywhere it seemed to be an amazing vintage. Ermacora didn’t disappoint. Ermacora’s wines are unoaked and very concentrated, so much so that the wines need 6-9 months after release to really blossom and show all of their potential. This year’s wines were so fantastic I asked Dario if we could delay the arrival so they could show their complete array of potential. In Italy it is the exact opposite; all the restaurants and their customers want the wine the first day it is available, mostly from a historical perspective where there was little refrigeration, and at the end of the vintage the wine was….well not as good. Dario was very pleased that his wines would be arriving here in their best condition! 2004 Ermacora Tocai Friulano ($14.99) 2 Glasses Gambero Rosso. If there was any one varietal that showed better in Friuli in this glorious vintage it is the often misunderstood Tocai Friulano. The wonderful balance, coupled with a depth of concentration you don’t see in Tocai is followed by hints of tarragon and layers of mineral that give way to a richness that is balanced with delicate acidity and scintillating aromas of bitter almonds, apple and ripe pear highlighted by a very long finish. The perfect accompaniment to fish or crab. 2004 Ermacora Pinot Grigio ($14.99), winner of 2 Glasses Gambero Rosso, is simply sensational. Perfect balance of acidity and tremendous aromatics, loaded with pear, apple, citrus and tropical fruits in an elegant, concentrated and superbly balanced wine! 2004 Ermacora Pinot Bianco ($14.99) 2 Blue Glasses Gambero Rosso. This is the wine Ermacora is known for most in Italy. It has tremendous focus and concentration, rich and creamy, with custard like flavors and hints of apples and bergamot. It is majestic on the palate, with balance, complexity and character. Age this wine for 2-3 years and you won’t believe the incredible wine it will evolve into. Perfect for halibut, swordfish or cocktailing! —Greg St.Clair

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