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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

Podere Rinascimento

Maybe it was talking to Joe Z about an April Fool’s prank he’s playing or perhaps it is that after 110 times of writing this column I’ve got a feeling of hmmmmmmmm, what should I write about? Why would I have this malaise with all of the great Italian wine available today? I do have a bunch of incredible projects I’m working on to bring you starting (hopefully arriving in June) with Rocca di Montegrossi. One of Chianti Classico’s best producers is now going to be a direct import for us. Wait until you taste these wines! Or the new producer Mike and I visited, Ca’ Berti and their Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, hillside vineyards and hand picked Lambrusco. Wow, you won’t believe them. Or all of the wonderful new vintage wines from Ermacora, Silvano Follador, Blason and Ruggeri Corsini, and several other projects that are in the works all tremendously exciting but I can’t write about those yet… Well here is the big news I can tell you: I’m going to rename my column once again because I’m moving to Hollywood! No, I’m not going to hang out in Schwab’s Drug Store waiting to be discovered. I’m going to be bringing K&L’s Italian wines to the southland sometime late this summer! Meanwhile, we still have a great selection of Brunello on the way! Here are a few: The 2001 Baricci Brunello di Montalcino ($34.99) is full of the classic Montosoli nose, black cherry, cinnamon, anise cardamom and leather. The power of this vintage really shines through, and Sangiovese’s linear nature stretches the frame of this feminine wine to Amazonian proportions. The wine’s sophisticated temperament is inviting, and its supple feel relaxes you as it eases from the glass onto on your palate. Its focus, complexity, structure and finish stand out immediately while ripe layers of spicy black cherry and plum are deposited on your tongue. Vital, lithe, colorful, smooth all rolled into one, the 2001 is the best Baricci for me since the 1985. It must be something for your cellar. The 2001 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino ($34.99) has a warm, sweet ripeness that is full of intense plum and dark cherry aromatics that seem poised to jump out of the glass. The thick, lush, yet dazzlingly fresh fruit character is accented with hints of earth, spice and mineral that is wrapped around a powerful foundation. While profoundly concentrated, the silky nature of this wine sends waves of smooth, unctuous texture across your palate. Powerful, complex, drinkable and age-worthy, this luscious Brunello shows the great balance inherent in this 2001 vintage. It will age well for another decade plus. The 1999 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino ($59.99) is a truly stunning wine. Mike and I drank (no spitting here) a bottle with Vincenzo Abbruzzese the owner/winemaker over lunch in February side by side with the 98-point 2001. We finished both, and there isn’t much difference. Maybe the 2001 is a little bigger, but WOW both are absolutely sensational wines. You need to have this in your cellar! Trust me! —Greg St. Clair

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