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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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Friday
Apr142006

Baby Cult Wine!

Cult wines come and get so popular that no one can find or afford them, but no one seems to point out the cult wines in the making. Let’s change that right now. Watch out for Sonoma Coast Vineyards. I have some delicious wines for you this month! 2003 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Chardonnay ($36.99) This explosive newcomer is brimming with rich west Sonoma fruit. Spicy ripe pear and figs dominate the nose, which is interlaced with a lees-y and rich Crème Broulee/French oak nose. On the palate this wine just screams, dare I say it, Kistler Killer! At less than half the price of Kistler’s Chards, this rich and powerful Chardonnay has an incredible texture of beeswax/lanolin and unctuousness while maintaining acidity that tells you right away this is west Sonoma Chardonnay. You’ll find rich succulent pear and fuji apple fruit, with an intriguing note of tangerine. The wine maintains acidity, (malo was discouraged) and an elegant silky smooth and very long finish. If you have enjoyed the high-end Dutton Goldfields and Kistlers but don’t want to spend a fortune, give this a spin and see for yourself. A guaranteed “wow” and a great savings to boot! 2003 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Pinot Noir ($44.99) Well, I’m going to have to use explosive again because that describes this wine to a tee! Monstrous amounts of intense cherry liqueur-ish fruit dominate the nose with a warm blush of French oak (50% new) and spicy blackberry juice undertones. The palate again bursts with intense fruit and a dusty Asian spice, intense and viscous. This is not a Pinot for the faint of heart. It is truly a wine for the cult Pinot lover. If you love the Kistlers, William Selyems, Martinellis, Rochiolis of the Pinot World, you owe it to yourself to try this blockbuster before it becomes impossible to find too. —Shaun Green

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