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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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Thursday
May242007

South America’s Surge in Fine Wine

In the most recent edition of The World Atlas of Wine, Jancis Robinson calls South America the most important wine-producing continent after Europe. It is a bold statement, but indeed a declaration proven by outside interest in the area. Consider all of the foreign investment in Argentina and Chile: France (Jacques and Francois Lurton, Cheval Blanc’s Pierre Lurton, Mouton Rothschild), Spain (Miguel Torres) and the United States (Beringer, Laurel Glen’s Patrick Campbell, Kendall Jackson) have all developed new projects and a variety of styles of wine. Argentina is the world’s fifth biggest wine producer (right behind the U.S.). Chilean wines continue to compete successfully, especially with Cabernets. Here are three values at K&L: 2005 Bodegas Correas Malbec Reserva ($10.99) This is serious wine! A nose of plum, licorice, cassis and roasted coffee beans leads to a palate full of dark plums. Somehow this wine tastes more like an internationally styled, young European wine than a new world one. If you like young Bordeaux and Spanish reds, give this a try. 2003 Veramonte Primus ($12.99) A blend of merlot, carmenere and cabernet sauvignon, Primus is Chilean through and through. A slightly herbaceous (not overly so) nose also shows some smoked meat, both characteristics that fade with time in the glass, giving way to bright cherry. On the palate, the wine is savory and structured. 2005 Kingston Family Vineyards Tobiano Pinot Noir, Casablanca ($13.99) From the cool, nearly coastal region of Casablanca, Tobiano is a project of Atherton, California’s own Courtney and Jim Kingston. With its bright, candied cherry notes, this wine reminds me of central coast Pinot Noir. Support homegrown talent and try this tasty Pinot! —Joe Manekin

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