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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

All Bouzy Rosé from De Meric, for Spring

One of my favorite names in the wine world is Bouzy, a grand cru village on the south-facing side of the mountain of Reims, in the very heart of the pinot noir country of Champagne. This village is famous for making the red wine that colors the best rosés in all of Champagne. Usually, producers only use a small amount (7%-12%) of this rare and expensive ingredient in their very best luxury rosé cuvees. The De Meric Grande Sous Bois Bouzy Rosé Brut ($34.99) is an exception to this, and is made from 100% Bouzy pinot noir. There are two distinct methods for creating a rosé Champagne, the first involves blending fully red wine with white until the desired flavor and color is reached. De Meric produced this rosé by using the distinctly more risky method of maceration, where all of the skins are allowed to be in contact with all of the juice, creating the rosé all at once. When using the blending method, one selects a small amount of very healthy grapes (a little botrytis is common in Champagne, but one does not taste it, because the grapes are pressed so quickly and the skins are discarded) to make the red wine. One needs healthy, perfect grapes when making a maceration wine. De Meric did just that, making only 1400 bottles of this fantastic Champagne. It is all from the 2003 harvest (though not labeled as vintage), and was 100% fermented in small old oak barrels. The 2003 harvest was the earliest and warmest since 1852, and provided perfect conditions for this kind of Champagne. The color, atypical for a maceration rosé, is very delicately pink, what the French call oeil de perdrix (eye of the partridge). It has a very extroverted maraschino cherry aroma, but comes across much more elegant and restrained on the palate then one would assume. This is probably the most fun of any bottle we have ever imported directly. Sadly, when it is gone, it is gone. Our allocation, while generous given the very limited production, is still very small at 21 cases. I hope that you will try it and enjoy it as much as I have, but please don’t fall in love; it is unlikely we will ever see it again. —Gary Westby

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