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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

Springtime Sauvignon Blanc

Spring hits us this month, and it’s about time! I’m ready for some fresh sauvignon blanc on the patio, and I’ve found just the wines! The 2004 St. Supéry Napa Sauvignon Blanc ($13.99) is a great backyard quaff. Crisp and clean on the nose with notes of tangerine and sweet chalk, the wine has a touch of Asian pear filling out the palate of bright and crisp lime peel, lemon, sweet fresh hay and a smooth lemon curd touch. Absolutely refreshing. I stole the 2004 Morgan Monterey Sauvignon Blanc ($10.99) from Martin’s article on Monterey, and I’m not sorry! Creamy in texture with exotic fruits, Mexican papaya, white peaches and apricot. It’s lifted a bit with notes of citrus and a lively acidity and finished clean and crisp. Everything you want from an everyday SB, varietally correct, easy to pair and a crowd pleaser. If you really want to wake up your palate, try the 2004 De Sante Napa Sauvignon Blanc ($16.99). Leading of with a bright figgy/grassy noted nose, this zippy and lively sauvignon blanc is absolutely mothwatering! White grapefruit, guava, fresh grass, lemon blossom and a chalky/fine mineral edge combine to perfection. I love this wine. It’s a bit like a cross between New Zealand and classic Napa. If I were Jim Barr I would give this many cat faces. The 2001 Spring Ridge Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay ($12.99) breaks the SB rule for this article, but this wine is a steal so I’m putting it in anyway. The rich nutty/praline nose reminds me of the Burgundian notes found in expensive Chardonnay. A palate of exotic pear and Fuji apple mingles with hazelnut, orange rind and fine minerals. Rich and opulent, but not overbearing, the oak is fully integrated and simply complements its fantastic fruit, and the acidity forms a wonderful complement to the supple textures. —Shaun Green

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