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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

Honest Burgundy

It’s a good time to be a white Burgundy enthusiast. Currently on our shelves with have plenty (a relative term) of 2004s. This is one of the better vintages in current years to celebrate the dirt of Burgundy. By this I mean that these wine practically scream their terrior. A fun and interesting way to approach this would be wines from these two producers, Denis Barraud and Paul Pernot. The wines, like the men who make them, come from two very different worlds. The first is a small farmer, the second one of the very largest land owners in the Cote de Beaune. 2004 Pouilly-Fuissé, Les Chataignieres, Domaine des Nembrets, Denis Barraud ($18.99) The Domaine des Nembrets is a small hold that Dennis has been able to put together by sharecropping and leasing. The entire holding are on the slopes of the Roche de Vergisson, a giant basalt monolith, surrounded by complex and folded rocky, well-drained soils with limestone outcroppings. It is these limestone outcroppings that are home to Pouilly-Fuisse, and it is only the vines planted in this area that can be called so. This is not Saint-Veran or Macon. The wine is bright and fresh, showing cool yellow fruits with hints citrus and a stony mineral undercurrent. This wine sees a little new oak, which serves to frame and accentuate the fruit. 2004 Puligny Montrachet, Domaine Paul Pernot ($39.99) In spite of having some of the largest holdings, this estate never produces much wine, selling almost 80% of their grapes. What they do keep (the best fruit, naturally) is reflected in their wines. They are not one of the superstars of Burgundy but the have a solid, quiet following. Preferring to have the wines speak for themselves, very little new oak is used. And speak they do! For young white Burgundy they are very approachable with lots of juicy, ripe stone fruits, citrus and the classic Puligny minerality. This wine has an open knit texture but never loses it focus and it betrays its intensity. It is almost like you’re getting away with something at this price. Drink now or hold onto it for a few more years. —Kirk Walker

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