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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

It’s Februar “Y”…

Château d’Yquem has delivered its Bordeaux Superiore, rarely produced and only the 23rd vintage since its first introduction in 1959. 2000 Château d’Yquem “Y” ($139.99) is a dry white wine showing delicate aromas of gardenia and jasmine, which mingle with clover, honey and light brioche. The fruit of the nose is carried to the palate, with a pleasant stony finish. This wine offers a perfect long finish. I would recommend this wine with any customary sauternes paring (foie gras) but strongly suggest lobster thermidor. On a sweeter note, the 2002 Le Dauphin de Guiraud, Sauternes (375ml) ($13.99) has a more exotic nose offering a refreshing honey and citrus finish. The bright, crisp and clean flavor makes this wine a great everyday sauterne that will be light enough to drink with any fruity dessert. Another great everyday drinker is the 1998 Reserve St. Julien, St-Julien ($14.99), from the great Saint-Emilion wine maker Hubert de Bouard (Angelus). A deep rich purple color and plenty of fruit to the nose, medium bodied with good structure. Will improve with some cellaring over the next 2-3 years. The 2002 Pagodes de Cos, St-Estèphe ($22.99) offers good value for the cellar. With plenty of sweet concentrated black fruit and cassis on the nose leading to a meaty more delicate finish. This wine should be drunk over the next 10 years. Last but not least, the 2000 Feytit Clinet, Pomerol ($34.99), is a merlot-based wine offering a black cherry and dark earthy nose. With tannins still very present, I would keep this wine in my cellar for another couple of years before opening. It will drink well for the next five years after that. —Alexandre Brisoux

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