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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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Monday
Mar122007

A Rhone Good Time

Last month K&L had the pleasure of hosting several of its favorite Rhone-area producers for a packed tasting of their delicious wines at the San Francisco store. For me it was particularly special since I spent two glorious days tasting and touring with two of these vintners last summer in France. The tasting marked the first time I'd seen them in almost a year and was just a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. My two pals - Jean Baptise Meunier (pictured second with an American friend) of Moulin de la Gardette in Gigondas and Rodolphe de Pins of Chateau de Montfaucon outside Chateauneuf du Pape (pictured third avec moi) - spent much of the tasting meeting new friends there to taste their wares and catching up with old acquaintances from the times they'd spent stateside learning about wine. It was a totally jovial gathering and more than a little packed in K&L's tasting room! "JB" and "Rudi" were joined at the event by a third vintner, the charming Cecile Chassagne, who produces a wonderfully approachable and fantastically priced Cotes du Rhone red under her own name along with a tasty Chateauneuf du Pape that at $20 a bottle is a great deal! Cecile is pictured above with me showing off one of her dynamite reds. Among my favorite wines of the day was JB's absolutely delicious 2004 Moulin de la Gardette "Cuvee Ventabren," which packs tons of the goodies we love so much in Rhone reds: provencal herbs, lavender, baking spices and lovely concentrated fruit. Yum! And Rudi's 2000 Chateau de Montfaucon "Baron Louis" - available in limited quantities in magnum - is a total delight: notes of caramelized oak, smoke, herbs and roses harmonize alongside terrifically suave tannins, making the Louis the perfect match for your herbed lamb roast this weekend. To Cecile, JB & Rudi: we hope you'll be back soon, and in the mean time keep sending us your wonderful wines! --- Courtney Cochran, aka Your Personal Sommelier, provides personalized wine services to adventurous wine collectors, purveyors and enthusiasts, making wine accessible and fun for those who think outside the mainstream wine box. Visit her site at www.CourtneyCochran.com

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