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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

Loire, Alsace and Beyond: Sancerre & Such

March 25 we will be hosting an event in S.F. featuring at least ten artisan growers from France, all from under the loving umbrella that is Louis/Dressner Selections. Confirmed so far are Marc Ollivier from Pépière, Cathérine Roussell from Clos Roche Blanche, François Pinon, Isaure de Pontbriand of Domaine Closel, Eric Nicolas of Bellivière, Jean-Paul Brun from Beaujolais, Claude Maréchal from Burgundy, Franck Peillot of the Jura, André Iché of Chateau Oupia in the South and more. For info go to www.klwines.com. Now on to the wines… Recent arrivals include a much better supply of the wildly popular Sancerre of Gerard Boulay in Chavignol. The 2004 Gerard Boulay Sancerre Chavignol ($18.99), a hand-harvested, tank-fermented stunner that is brilliant and racy with intensity and length to match,. The flavors unfold like improvisational Jazz. There are small amounts of 2004 Gerard Boulay Sancerre Chavignol Rouge ($18.99), which is luscious, supple and, dare I say, a great find for pinot noir. There are also limited quantities of 2004 Gerard Boulay Sancerre Chavignol Clos du Beaujeu ($24.99), the old-vine cuvee, vinified in neutral wood, and to me one of the great wines of the region. If you tasted or bought the 2002 you will know what I mean. Then, and please act fast if you want them, we have direct from the domaine some Clos du Beaujeu ’96, ’97, ’99 and a bit more 2002. I asked for these specifically to show to you how this wine improves with age, so please only a bottle or two per person so we can all enjoy these gems. Also, finally in stock again is the 2004 La Tour St. Martin Menetou Salon Blanc ($14.99), which is fresh, vibrant and bright with great cut and minerality and a zesty tanginess that invites another sip. There is hardly a better sauvignon in the store right now for this price. The 2004 La Tour St. Martin Menetou Salon Rouge ($14.99) is elegant with delicate flavors of earth and tea leaves, hints of sweet plums and woodruff. Drink over the next 7-8 years. Live in the Light! —Jeff Vierra

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