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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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Domaine Marc Colin

Several of us here at K&L have been patiently waiting for these 2004 white Burgundies to arrive. Over the last several vintages winemaker Pierre-Yves Colin has been producing what could be some of the best values in Burgundy. A patient and meticulous man who farms as organically as possible but refuses to be hamstrung by dogmatically following any viticulture or winemaking philosophy, Colin wants the wine to speak of the vineyards from which they come. He uses only the wild yeast from each vineyard and keeps lees stirring to a minimum this vintage. If I try to characterize his 2004s, I’d say they are bright with charming fresh citrus and stone fruits and a driving persistence. Here are some wines well worth trying: 2004 St-Aubin, “Les Charmois,” 1er Cru ($29.99) 2004 St-Aubin, “Murgers des Dent de Chien,” 1er Cru ($29.99) The wines from St-Aubin could represent the “best value” in white Burgundy. Not a sexy appellation but these are the best vineyards made by one of the best vintners sold at a reasonable price. Les Charmois is located next to Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Chaumées, 1er Cru and has very Chassagne-like character, more open with a clean and bright pear and floral tone. The palate is fresh with a pleasant creaminess on the mid palate. Murgers des Dent de Chein is located next to Puligny-Montrachet, “La Garenne,” 1er Cru. From a spot higher in elevation, this wine is rich and posses a driving stoniness. 2004 Chassagne-Montrachet, “Les Encégnières” ($39.99) 2004 Puligny-Montrachet, “Le Trézin” ($39.99) The Les Encegnieres is “only a village vineyard located just below Batard-Montrachet, and shares the rich clay loam of the surface soil. Bright and long, this real estate gives this wine a rich and oily mid palate. The Le Trézin is one of the highest vineyards in the AOC, which makes the wine racy and stony. With its lovely floral tone, finely etched character and long finish, this wine is a real charmer. —Kirk Walker

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