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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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Corsica, Of Course!

Yes that is right, Corsica! This month I am pleased to be able to make this guest appearance here and talk about some of the wines that I really love to drink. Along with all the Riesling, Grüner Veltliner and funky Loire and Alsace wines that I drink, I am also keenly interested in the South of France. Granted the South of France is a large area. I cannot comment on everything in such a short space but let me say that after traveling there briefly last summer I was impressed with the energy and passion of the quality growers. I predict that in the next few years we will be hearing much more about these dynamic and evolving growing regions that are now producing wines that can now hold their own on the world stage. Now on to Corsica!! We are now importing one of the real stars of the Corsican wine scene, Yves Canarelli who produces wines near Figari on the ferociously windy southern tip of the Island. The soils are granitic in base with alluvial material and, of course, they are very poor, making for vines that must reach deep for sustenance. Corsica though the southern-most growing region in France is not by any means its hottest. It is essentially a mountain rising from the sea to heights of over 8500 feet with peaks where the snow never melts and winds that never quiet. The potential for Corsican wine is only limited by the producer’s dedication to the incredible terrior their home possesses. The 2003 Clos Canarelli “Le Petit Clos” ($14.99), a blend of syrah, nielluccio (sangiovese) and sciacarello is friendly and easy with ripe round flavors, a juicy bright mouth feel and an intriguing nose of floral and sage brush notes with hints of sandalwood and earth. Can you say lamb!! The top wine of the domaine is the 2003 Clos Canarelli ($24.99). This blend of old-vine syrah and nielluccio aged in wood is one of the great wines of the island and of Southern France. It is dense and powerful with a strong mineral component even in a hot year like ’03, yet it is still fresh and very supple due to the cooling winds of Figari. The nose is exotic in the way you would imagine a Sultan’s tent to smell with incense and dates, smoke from a fire roasting meats and that elusive term, garrigue, the sweet, warm smell of herbs and soil and brush. You can drink this now if you decant it, but the wine will be at its best from 2008-2015+ —Jeff Vierra

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