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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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Tuesday
Mar212006

Big Points, No Whammies…Plus 1!

As I put this column together, I am preparing for a buying trip to Spain! Look for an update in the May newsletter! 2004 Las Rocas de San Alejandro, Garnacha, Calatayud ($7.99) 89 points Stephen Tanzer: “...Perfumed aromas of liqueur-like dark berries and black cherry, licorice and spicy oak. Smooth, ripe, fat and full, with an enticing dark cherry flavor. This is wonderfully lush and pliant for a red wine under $10. Finishes with big, mouthdusting tannins and lingering sweetness. Exceptional value.” 2004 Bodegas Y Vinedos Maurodos Prima, Toro ($14.99) Wow! An awesome wine for an awesome price! Made by famous Spanish winemaker, Mariano Garcia, this tempranillo packs a punch with loads of ripe cherry/blackberry fruit, a lush mid-palate, and a long spicy finish. The plush mouth feel is balanced with bright acidity and a little kick of tannin. Enjoy this red with grilled leg of lamb! 2003 Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica ($10.99) 92 points Robert Parker: “...aged ten months in both American and French oak. Its dense ruby/purple color is followed by sumptuous aromas of blueberries, black currants, cold steel, and minerals. Evocative of a baby Priorat, it possesses an amazing fragrance, considerable nobility as well as complexity, medium to full body, and a long, concentrated, heady finish. Enjoy it over the next 5-7 years.” 2003 Bodegas Castano Solanera, Yecla ($11.99) 91 points Robert Parker: “...a beautiful blend of 75% Mourvedre and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. A dense ruby/purple color is accompanied by a smoky, scorched earth-scented nose displaying notions of black cherry jam, licorice, and truffles. Ripe and medium to full-bodied, with wonderful sweetness, it possesses purity, suppleness, and balance…another example of why Spain is beating virtually every other viticultural area in the world when it comes to high quality wines that sell for a song.” Saludos! —Anne Pickett, anne@klwines.com

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