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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
Dec162010

Clyde's Top 10 Holiday Gift Picks

It's that top 10 time of year! We've got a handful on deck, but with just 10 shopping days before Christmas (sorry, I had to say it), I thought we'd start off with our fearless leader Clyde's Top 10 Holiday Gift Picks. There's something on here for every budget and every wine lover.

10)  2009 Kalinda Rheingau Riesling Qba* ($10.99) An everyday house Riesling that hits that sweet spot price-wise. A touch dryer than a halbtrocken, it still carries weight, texture and a juicy core of fruit, plus soft minerality. A delicious holiday sipper.

9)  2007 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva ($18.99) 91 points Wine Spectator: “Shows sweet blueberry notes, with mineral and lilac. Full-bodied, with fine tannins and vanilla and bright fruit flavors. Clean and racy. Best after 2010.”

8)  2008 Domine Delarche Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc* ($23.99) White flowers on the nose and minerality on the palate. Lovely fruit notes, with a hint of toasty oak. An affordable, baby Corton-Charlemagne that’s quite a delight to drink.

7)  2005 D’Aiguilhe, Côtes de Castillon ($35.99) 92 points Robert Parker: “This huge, historic property owned by Stephane Von Neipperg, appears to have produced their finest wine to date.” Ralph loves this remarkably affordable beauty.

6)  2007 Beaulieu Vineyard “Tapestry” Reserve Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend ($44.99) The 2007 Tapestry is one of the best we’ve had in a long while. This classic Napa Bordeaux Blend shows flavors of lead pencil, cassis, mocha and hints of cedar. It is well structured and full in the mid-palate. The tannins are sweet and fleshy. The perfect wine for short- to mid-term cellaring.

5)  2007 Tardieu-Laurent “Cuvée Speciale” Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($64.99) 94-96 points Robert Parker: “A 100% Grenache cuvée from the sandy soils of 106-year-old, biodynamically farmed La Crau vineyard, and aged in both foudre and tank, the 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Speciale is amazing.”

4)  2008 Lewis Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($76.99) The 2008 Lewis Cabernet shows all the ingredients of a Lewis Cab: tons of crème de cassis flavors, hints of chocolate, black cherries and cola. This wine has lots of structure and power. Seriously good Cab!

3)  Krug “Grand Cuvée Brut” Champagne ($119.99) 95 points Wine Spectator: “A powerful, well-toned Champagne, featuring coconut, toast, grapefruit and coffee aromas and flavors. There are plenty of bass notes, punctuated by crisp acidity, and it all comes together on the fine texture with an aftertaste of roasted hazelnut and coffee.”

21998 Krug Brut Champagne ($219.00) 96 points and a “Collectibles” designate, Wine Spectator: “Shows gorgeous lemon, peach, toast, leather and spices.”

1)  2009 Malescot-St-Exupéry, Margaux (PA $119.99) I give this 100+ points and recommend you buy it for yourself. 97-100 points Wine Spectator: “This is absolutely fabulous. I love the complex aromas of ripe fruit and fresh flowers that turn to mineral and raspberry, along with tannins on the finish.”

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