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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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« A Wine to Love | Main | Dreaming of a White February »
Tuesday
Jan242006

From the Basque!

Actually, I should clarify that I am not actually in Basqueland. My travel plans for the month of February include a comfortable armchair, a copy of Mark Kurlansky’s A Basque History of the World and a few tasty bottles of wine from this breathtakingly beautiful and rugged country. Below are two selections from the Basque appellations of Iroulegey and the Jurancon, located at the base of the Pyrenees in southwest France. I am sure you will appreciate them, both for their sense of terroir and for being dang tasty. Please read on! Clos Lapeyre in Jurançon is a 12-hectare domaine owned by the Larrieu family. The goal of owner/winemaker Jean-Bernard Larrieu is to produce wines that express the specificity of the grape varieties (namely gros and petit manseng) and the soils (clay/limestone and silex) found on his steeply planted vines (250 meters!). The 2004 Domaine Lapeyre Jurancon Sec ORGANIC ($13.99) comes in a nifty screw cap, and oh what fun it is to drink! Comprised of 100% gros manseng, this is a firm, mineral-driven white with notes of fresh herbs, green apple and quince. This Basque white is delicate and refreshing, however its complexity and concentration will undoubtedly impress you. Enjoy a glass while cooking dinner, or pair with Basque style sizzling garlic shrimp! One of the most picturesque and breathtaking villages in all of France MUST be Irouleguy! Rustically inspired Basque-style architecture as well as amazing wine and food lend a uniqueness to this village. The 2003 Iroulegey Rouge Domaine Illaria ORGANIC ($13.99), from winemaker Peio Espil is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, tannat and cabernet franc. This is not a massive, oak-laden fruit bomb but rather a medium-bodied red with notes of crunchy cherry, plum and black currant. A perfect match for hearty dishes like roast lamb in rosemary sauce or a traditional Basque-inspired grilled filet mignon with roasted red peppers. Enjoy a glass of this delicious and authentic red and take a trip to Basque country! —Mulan Chan

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