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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

Spotlight on Terra Valentine

I can’t believe I haven’t written about Terra Valentine yet, considering how great these wines are and how much the entire Redwood City staff loves them. It’s been over a year since I desperately asked Trey if we could carry the 2001s and now with the rip-roaringly good 2002s just released, it’s a perfect time to introduce them now, and not just because it’s February! Terra Valentine is a family-owned, small-production winery that sits deep and high inside the spectacular Spring Mountain Appellation, truly one of the best regions for growing Cabernet in all of Napa Valley. Eighteen hundred feet above the drums of the winery divas below, this extraordinary 14-year-old, 35-acre vineyard produces wines of profound character and intensity, displaying amazing personality and a chiseled, age-worthy structure. The true masterpiece, however, is owner Angus Wurtele’s choice to price these stunners at absurdly reasonable levels. For such magnificent quality, you can easily pay a lot more (and trust me, you mostly do!). In fact, I performed a little experiment a couple weeks ago when I had glass of 2002 Terra Valentine Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon ($26.99) next to that of an ultra-prestigious winery whose focus one might say is its famous white label. There I was, sitting on the patio sipping Terra Valentine next to a $100+ dollar bottle thinking to myself, “In all fairness I can’t say that T.V. is better (or worse) than this luxury brand next to it. Wow!” The kicker was that it had all the depth and elegance of greatness, but none of the price tag. As if that wasn’t enough, the 2001 Terra Valentine “Wurtele Vineyard” Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($44.99) is something else!! Winemaker Sam Baxter selects fruit from two exceptional, volcanic-soil blocks within this killer vineyard to make a truly special wine that turns up the muscle and concentration, demonstrating astonishing fruit and refinement that’ll make your mind salivate. I’m going to be blunt about this. There is no California Cabernet under $50 that will make it flinch. Not one. If you find one, you email me at mreyes@klwines.com and tell me, because I want to buy it. Enjoy! —Martin Reyes

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