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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

How About Moulis?

When looking for great wines from Bordeaux we often think of the bigger names and overlook other appellations by fear of the unknown. Well, fear no more: Moulis is here to save the day. The smallest appellation in the Médoc (surface wise) with only 600 hectares, which represent 4% of the region, offers wines of high standards as the 1975 Ch. Poujeaux ($79.99) can attest. This wine offers delicate red fruit on the nose. The wine has fresh and still lively sweet slightly red berry fruit on the palate. WOW!!! You want all wines to achieve this with age. It was served with the cheese course at the Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel diner K&L organized at the University Club, and it was the best paring of the night. We also had 2003 Ch. Poujeaux (Pre-Arrival $22.99). It was a great vintage, the warmest ever recorded, and this wine shows you the best of 2003. Tones of fruit in the glass: raspberry, cassis, red cherry, a bit of spice as well as some smoke. It has good structure and a very long finish. Another hidden gem of the vintage is 2003 Ch. Chasse-Spleen ($25.99). A more traditional style, the nose was fairly closed. Slightly rustic touch, showing fresh berries, cherries and spices. Will keep for a good ten years. Two other good buys are 2002 Ch. Potensac ($17.99) and 2001 Les Ormes the Pez ($24.99). The Potensac, owned by the Delon family (Léoville-Las-Cases), is still quite young. Showing black currants, dark berries, earthy tannins and good acidity, it will be drinkable after 2006. Les Ormes de Pez, St-Estèphe, is straightforward. Good dark fruit with a bit of spice. Firm structure that still needs more time but opens up well with decanting. —Alexandre Brisoux

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