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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

February’s Picks from Italy

Big wines for a short month! Five generations and almost a hundred years ago, the Zannoni family arrived at La Fortuna back in 1907. The estate, wine cellar and business center, has been designed in such a way to preserve the originally beauty of the renovated Tuscan farmhouse and to respect traditions while adapting to the modern needs of winemaking. You can contact them at info@tenutalafortuna.it if you would like schedule a tasting or tour. 2003 La Fortuna Rosso di Montalcino ($17.99) 100% sangiovese, this “baby Brunello” is a steal at this price. Black cherries and plum with sweet tobacco mingle with a nice mineral component. This medium-bodied wine shows very good acidity. Think Mom’s best lasagna recipe. 2002 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino ($36.99) Not a misprint, Brunello under $40.00 with lush black cherry and ripe strawberries, vanilla and chocolate character and fine integrated tannins. This user-friendly Brunello drinks very well right now with a couple hours of decanting and will evolve over the next couple of years. Pork tenderloin’s a must with this sangiovese! 2003 La Fortuna IGT Sant’Antimo ($27.99) This Super Tuscan is a blend of 40% sangiovese and 60% cabernet sauvignon and sees 10 months in French oak barrels (Allier). Extremely elegant on the palate with blackberries, blueberries and a touch of coco powder, there is great length thanks to its fine-grained tannins and rich glycerine at the end. With perfect balance through the long finish, this is something special to share with your valentine. —Mike Parres

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