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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

Two in One

This month I will be talking about two of my favorite producers from two of my favorite wine producing countries, Germany and Austria. Schlossgut Diel has been producing some of the Nahe’s finest wines for quite sometime now. The 2004 Schlossgut Diel Dorsheimer Pittermännchen Spätlese ($39.99) is a rich style of spätlese balanced out by a fantastic splash of red spices and tropical fruits with a cleansing acidity that lingers on the finish, most likely due to the slate, quartzite and gravel vineyard site. The 2004 Schlossgut Diel Riesling Classic ($23.99), a zippy wine with just a smidge more residual sugar than a trocken, reminds me of ripe green apples. A great match to lighter first course dishes for that next dinner party you are having. The wines of Leo Alzinger are everything the Wachau region of Austria should represent: power, grace and beauty. We are happy to have the 2004 Alzinger Grüner Veltliner Loibenberg Smaragd ($49.99). With its peppery aromas, surrounded by white stone fruit and earthy mint, and a full body richness that mingles around a juicy yet stony mineral backbone of love, this is one of the best ’04 Grüners I have had to date. There is also the 2004 Alzinger Riesling Steinertal Smaragd ($54.99), a true testament to what top notch Riesling from a great region and a great producer should be. This one has set the bar way up there! A bit of smokiness, a bit of tart apple, spicy peach and a juicy sense of a stone that has been dipped into a cold mountain stream, this wine is brilliance in a bottle!!! —Eric Story

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