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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
Jul032008

Old World, New Wine

No other Old World wine country has undergone more growth and change than Spain. Sheltered from world because of fascism, the Spanish wine industry did not begin to really feel the effects of the revolution in winemaking until the late ’80s. Spain’s first real critical success did not begin until the ’94, ’95 and ’96 vintages. I remember seeing people with their Wine Advocates tucked under their arms looking for ’94 Torre Muga and wondering where the heck Priorat was. While there are many fans of the modern, fruit-driven style of Spanish wines, many people lament the reduction of traditional, long oak-aged wines from Rioja or the Ribera del Duero in the marketplace. Their subtle elegance and power is a great foil to the flash of the wines of “New Spain.” Though the wine making methods differ greatly, both modern and traditional winemakers enjoy Spain’s greatest wine treasure—acres and acres of untouched old vine vineyards. I enjoy the juxtaposition of modern Spanish wines with the traditional. One of my all-time favorite wines is the Rioja from Marques de Murrietta. Always a staple in my house, their 2000 Castillo Ygay is the epitome of old school elegance. Made from a blend of 87% tempranillo and 13% mazuelo and aged for 34 months in American oak, this Rioja has aromas of vanillin and spice cake that give way to soft, ripe cherry fruit on the palate. The minerality and long finish are a testament to this “old school” beauty. On the other hand, you couldn’t get more modern than Priorats from Clos Galena. Founded just six years ago, they farm organically and have a mix of old and new plantings. Their 2004 Galena is made from a blend of 35% garnacha negra, 25% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, and 15% cariñena aged 12 months in French and American oak. Packed with ripe blackberry fruit and spice, this wine will bowl you over with its power and depth. Enjoy either of these wines with grilled lamb. Buen Provecho! —Anne Pickett

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