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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

Is it Spring? Is it Fall?

Well, it’s both for me this month! I’ll be spending the first half of the month in South Africa tasting my way through the Cape Wine Expo. Of course, I could never forget my home wines of California, and I have some delicious wines for you this month! I do love the wines of Honig, and the 2005 Honig Napa Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99) is another winner in a long line of great SBs. Tropical fruits abound, papaya, guava, sweet grapefruit and a nice light mineral feel. Finishing fine and crisp, my mouth waters just thinking about it. Honig cabs have been improving year after year, and the 2003 Honig Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.99) is now available. Rich and bright black raspberry with a Rutherford dust nose leads you to a wonderful mouthful of blackberries and black plums, smooth toasty vanillin oak and a sprinkling of black pepper and eastern spices. The wine has good structure but is nice and juicy with a smooth velvety texture, finishing pretty long with an elusive mocha note. If you’re in the mood for a New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc, you must try the 2005 Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99). This is a perfect name for the wine. It has a spectacularly juicy exotic tangy grapefruit nose and a palate of exciting and mouthwatering tropical and citrus fruits laced with lemon zest. A zippy acidity keeps the whole thing bright and lively. This little beauty screams for seafood and a warm spring afternoon. Tom Renaldi (of Duckhorn fame) is making fantastic wines at Provenance , and the 2003 Provenance Rutherford Cabernet ($29.99) is quite a bargain. This has it all, approachable pretty dense rich black fruits, Rutherford dust, cocoa, black spices, sweet oak, vanilla, with plenty of structure wrapped in velvety goodness! A big deal Napa Cab at a great price! —Shaun Green

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