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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

The 15th Page Man: Funky New Wines

We are going to push the envelope a bit this month as we have just received some wines that don’t necessarily fit comfortably into our perceptions of German wine, but damn are they tasty! From the Nahe we have a weisser burgunder (pinot blanc) from Paul Anheuser that is simple, fresh and lip smacking. Try the 2004 Paul Anheuser Weisser Burgunder Classic ($10.99) with a salad of lump crab meat lightly tossed with peas, tarragon and fennel for refreshing and invigorating lunch. Keep a stock of this delicious bottle for unexpected guests and those nights when you just need a glass of wine. Fingers crossed, I have submitted this to Jim Barr and his crack staff and hope to get at least 63 cat heads and possibly a house wine designation from the master. Speaking of Jim Barr this next wine is as quirky as he is, though I believe it can hear a little better… In the Rheingau there are some plantings of red grapes, mostly pinot noir and some bits of st. laurent, which Mr. Molitor crafts into this expressive, cheery red. The 2003 Molitor St. Laurent Qba Trocken ($11.99) reminds me a bit of pineau d’aunis, another individualistic wine with its spicy nose of pepper, crushed black raspberries and hints of smoked sweet meats. Like most northern reds it is bright and focused, elegant and subtle, not a blockbuster, a wine best enjoyed with a fork in your hand. I suggest Asian-inspired meat dishes such as Kalbi Kui, Korean short ribs with sweet chili paste, garlic and soy. —Jeff Vierra, lover of Marginal Things

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