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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

Loire, Alsace and Beyond: A Revolution!!!

I am declaring a sauvignon blanc revolution!!! The world-class grape is consistently overshadowed by that thing we call chardonnay, and I, for one, am not going to stand for it anymore!!! Here in the Loire Valley you can find some of the world’s best sauvignon blancs, from racey, sharp-edged wines to rich and succulent ones. If I was to pick one place (in the wine world, that is... let’s face it, Hawaii is pretty nice), to be surrounded by everything I needed, it would be here. Take, for instance, the region of Quincy, second in France to receive AOC status in 1936, just behind Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Quincy is only allowed to produce white wines. Growing in these soils of clay, sand and chalk come wines that are typically harvested a full week earlier than those in Sancerre, with softer acidity levels and a bit more richness. The 2002 Silice de Quincy, Quincy ($24.99) is a powerful, textured wine coming from 100-year-old vines that are farmed following the biodynamic model. Bright citrus fruits and stone are just the tip of the iceberg of the complexity this wine has. Jim Barr would say it is a must have and give it 27 kitties. You want something a little more quaffable? Then step into the 2004 Adèle Rouzé Quincy ($14.99), a fresh, zippy expression of the sauvignon grape. Filled with gooseberries and a wet mineral edge, this would be great with that fish you just caught (or pointed to and asked you fish monger to wrap up), which you then simply threw on a hot grill, with some of those herbs from the garden, along with early spring vegetables, also grilled, that are placed atop of a goat cheese crostini. Jim Barr would give this, I’m sure, at least 17 wagging dogs. I have to leave you know, I just made myself hungry. BUT, there are more Loire Valley wines out there that need our help. Don’t just stop at Quincy. What about the Menetou? They, too, could be a strong force in our revolution!!! —Eric Story

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