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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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Thursday
Feb162006

2003 Patrice Rion Reds

The extremely ripe 2003 vintage lead to lot of variability in the wines. However, there were a few domaines whose wine struck me as outstanding. One of these was Patrice Rion, in Nuits-St.-Georges. Somehow, Patrice’s wines, both domaine bottles and negociant, retained a clear sense of place as well as grace and balance, which only a handful of producers managed, in my opinion. This is so extraordinary a range that I visited Patrice directly to be certain I could get the wines! The 2003 Patrice Rion Gevrey Chambertin ($34.99) is meaty and rich, while the 2003 Patrice Rion Chambolle Musigny ($34.99) shows delicate red fruits and transparency of fruit. The 2003 Patrice Rion Nuits-St-Georges , V.V. ($34.99) is so poised that Allen Meadows writes: “It’s rare to find a Nuits villages with this degree of style and grace.” The 2003 Domaine Patrice Rion Chambolle Musigny, Les Cras ($36.99) is from Patrice’s own vineyard and is a complete standout for its Chambolle charm and lovely red fruits. The 2003 Patrice Rion Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru “Les Cailles” ($49.99) is another Burghound Key Buy, with punch and muscularity. The 2003 Domaine Patrice Rion Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru “Clos des Argillieres” ($51.99) is muscular and taut with power, minerality and elegance. Finally, the piéce de resistance, his 2003 Patrice Rion Chambolle Musigny, 1er Cru “Les Charmes” ($59.99) is so full of sweet, pure pinot fruit that it is just irresistible. Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg

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