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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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Wednesday
Nov102010

Wine Wednesday: Antech Blanquette de Limoux

Every year it seems like the distance between Halloween ghosts and Thanksgiving turkeys gets shorter and shorter. And this year, Hanukkah Harry is hot on the bird's tail, with the Festival of Light starting on December 1st! Before you know it Christmas music will be playing in every store you walk into. It's enough to make you want to crawl back under the covers (it's pitch black at 6 a.m. now anyway).

To take the edge of the impending and inevitable holiday madness, I'm stocking up on the Antech "Brut Nature" Blanquette de Limoux ($12.99) and suggest that you do too. Made in the method ancestrale, which is the same spontaneous way another of my favorite sparklers Bugey Cerdon is made, from Mauzac (90%) and 5% each Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay from Carcassonne and Limoux in the Languedoc. 

This is a sweeter style bubbly that delivers tangy Gravenstein apple and D'Anjou pear flavors and a fine, steady stream of delicate bubbles. It reminds me of a Moscato d'Asti with more intense sparkle. And while it could take on your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie like Pacquiao in the ring, I think it would also be delightful with savory latkes smothered in sour cream and apple chutney or salty sweet bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with Manchego cheese and Marcona almonds.

Leah Greenstein

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