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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

Still Got It

Ahhh, February, without a doubt one of my favorite months of the year, and it has nothing to do with that Valentine’s Day stuff. It’s cold, windy and rainy/snowy, some would say miserable. Not me. It makes me feel alive! It truly brings the kid back into my soul, when I used to jump into puddles just for the fun it or build a snow fort with an arsenal of snowballs to ambush your friends from, since you just called them to come over. The beautiful thing is that I still do this, although I get tired within ten minutes and have to go back inside. BUT THE SPARK IS STILL THERE BABY!!! At least now I can go inside and drink adult beverages, instead of some juice box, start a fire, pour some soul warming wine, cook good food all while making fun of my friends and how old THEY are getting. Let the spark ignite something this winter, even if it only lasts ten minutes, and then enjoy good wine with good people! 2003 Buchegger Grüner Veltliner Pfarrweingarten ($19.99) How can you say no to a wine coming from the Pfarrweingarten, or preist’s vineyard? A richer, tropical wine that reminds me of fresh mango, not yet fully ripened, drizzled with a beautiful, unfiltered Spanish olive oil and then dusted with a small cracking of white pepper. 2004 Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Steinsetz ($21.99) This 2004 Grüner, planted in alpine pebbles that were transported by the primeval Danube and then covered by black and loamy soil, loess and gravel, gives birth to a wine that exudes full-bodied minerality with spikes of peppery acidity that are held together by a creamy core of fruit. 2003 Heidi Schrock St. Laurent Kraxner ($39.99) Are you ready for one of the finest reds in all the land? This is, without question, one of the best expressions of the St. Laurent varietal that I have ever had! Only two words can described this wine: power and grace. A silky caress of sweet tobacco and rich fruits compacted by a core iron depth and mineral salinity that leaves you sitting if you were standing and standing if you were sitting. —Eric Story

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