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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
Mar292010

Trey's Blog: Day One in Bordeaux

Cafe L'Avinal in BagesToday was the day. Ralph, Alex Pross, Jeff Garneau and I met at the airport in Paris and took the quick flight down to Bordeaux. After renting our highly sought after Espace from EuroCar, we drove up to the Médoc. First destination: Château Pichon Baron—our home for the next two nights. Actually this was our second stop, the first was the supermarket in Pauillac to load up on water and beer (too keep the palate fresh).

This trip has an easier start than others I can remember. We don’t even meet the rest of the gang until tomorrow (Saturday, March 27th) at 11 a.m. at Companie Medocaine where we’ll taste 40 or so samples, officially making it the latest start we have had here. But the rest of the group has to drive from Limoux to meet us.

We had an early dinner at L’Avenal, which is located in the tiny town of Bages not far from Pichon-Baron. The restaurant opens at 7 p.m., but doesn’t start serving dinner until 7:30. We met Nancy Rugus, the US representative for Companie Medocaine at the restaurant. Jean Michel Cazes (Lynch-Bages) just happened to stop by for a drink with a friend, so he joined us for a glass of Champagne. We started of with the Bollinger Special Cuvée, which hit the spot.

After we sat down at our table, we all resisted temptation. The Foie Gras was calling our name, but we knew the opportunity to indulge would pop up again, probably sooner then we would expect it. It was a salad verte to start for most of us followed by and entrecôte and frites. We ordered a bottle of 2007 Villa Bel-Air Blanc from Graves to start. It was actually very nice. The ’07 whites are showing well. The Villa Bel-Air showed great acid with a creamy mid-palate and texture. For our main courses we enjoyed a bottle of 1999 Léoville-Barton, which was drinking very well. It showed some earthy “forest floor” notes, hints of licorice and black cherry fruit, and it still has a firm edge to it. It was en excellent pairing with the entrecôte. Since we were all feeling no pain by this point, and we were in France, we had to order cheese. The Barton was gone so we found a bottle of 2002 Poujeaux on the list for a reasonable price. We had some doubters in the group, but the wine was terrific. (Ralph was not one of those doubters. He is very familiar with Poujeaux and believes the 2002s are underestimated, especially when you factor in price.) After dinner it was back to Pichon-Baron. It was a long day, but that didn’t stop us from having a beer back at the Château. But it’s off to bed now, even with an easy first day ahead of us.

Trey Beffa

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