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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
Apr052010

Trey's Blog: Day Five in Bordeaux

Tuesday, March 30th

Jeff Garneau, Alex Pross and Ralph Sands in front of Chateau Margaux

10 a.m. – Château Margaux

I have never seen as many people at Château Margaux as were there today. The wines were pretty amazing. The Pavillon Rouge was good. It showed lots of minerals, spicy red fruits, firm tannins and a tight middle. The Châteaux Margaux was one of the best wines we have tasted so far. It was dense and powerful, but had a silky texture. The tannins were big but ripe and integrated. The blend is 87% Cab, 9% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. This will be a candidate for wine of the vintage!

The Pavillon Blanc was one of the best Pavillon Blancs I have tasted in years, and 2009 marks a significant change in the style of this wine. The alcohol in 2008 was over 15%. The alcohol on the 2009 is closer to 13%. The 2009 was tight, focused and showed a great citric note, sweet cream and melons in the mouth. It was very fresh and lively, something that past vintages have been missing.

 

The K&L team with Philippene Rothschild at Mouton-Rothschild

11 a.m. – Château Mouton-Rothschild

Like Margaux, this was one of the most crowed tastings I have ever been to at Mouton. Keep your eye on the 2009 Clerc Milon! It showed a great nose: plummy, currant fruit, black licorice and ripe, spicy tannins. This will be a wine to buy if the price is reasonable. The 2009 Mouton-Rothschild, for me, was difficult to taste. It was a bit shut down in the middle when we tried it. It showed loads of that classic lead pencil, cedar, black licorice and red currant flavors, but the middle and finish of the wine seemed to be separated a tad. This will be a great wine, but I think a notch below Latour, Lafite and Margaux.

Noon – Château Ducru-Beaucaillou

For value wine in 2009, add the 2009 Lalande-Borie to your must-buy list. It showed loads of bittersweet chocolate, cream, spicy red fruits and a long, clean, fresh finish. This wine should be priced fairly, too. The 2009 Ducru was amazing! Inky and juicy in the middle, it had a ton of structure, acidity and ripe tannin to carry the wine through to the lush finish. It almost could be enjoyed now it was so ripe and balanced. I would add this to the possible top five wines of the vintage.

 

Bruno Borie of Ducru-Beaucaillou fixing lunchLight lunch at Ducru with Bruno Borie

1999 Bollinger Grande Annee was followed by a tasting of the 2006-2008 of Lalande Borie, Croix de Beaucaillou and Ducru, all served with a delicious lunch. All 3 Ducru’s were great with the 2007 showing the best right now. As an added bonus we had the 1995 Ducru at the end of the meal. This was the Wine Spectators wine of the year. It was showing some bottle age and seems to be developing nicely. Spicy, fresh and bright, I would not hesitate to open a bottle of this now –but no rush.

3 p.m. – Château Palmer

We only tasted two wines at Palmer and both were amazing! Their second wine, the 2009 Alter Ego was probably the best second wine we tasted so far. It showed exotic spicy fruit, juicy black licorice and silky ripe tannins that lingered on the finish. The blend is 51% Merlot and 49% Cabernet. This is a wine to buy, for sure.

The Château Palmer was up there quality-wise with the Ducru. Amazing wine—dark plummy fruit, big rich middle, tons of power, but the finesse shines through. The tannins were so ripe and silky they almost melted in your mouth. Great wine!

4 p.m. – Léoville-Barton

Much more rustic in style, both the Langoa and Leoville were big, dense wines with tons of structure and acidity. Their tannins were not quite as plush and other wines we tasted today. These will be wines for the cellar.

4:30 p.m. – UGC Tasting / St-Estèphe, St-Julien, Pauillac

Some of the best wines of the vintage appear to come from these regions. We re-tasted several that we had already tasted and they showed excellent again. Some new wines we found to be outstanding include Lynch Mousas, Saint Pierre, Lagrange, Gruaud Larose and Phélan-Ségur.

5:45 p.m. – La Lagune

This was by far the best La Lagune we have tasted young. The blend is 60% Cabernet, 25% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. In cooler years, La Lagune can show a bit of an herbal side. Not this year. The fruit was ripe, fresh and clean. The mid-palate fruit lush, velvety and full. Tannins were ripe and sweet. This wine will be delicious upon release and should age effortlessly for many years.

6:30 p.m. – Cantemerle

The wines from Cantemerle have been K&L favorites for many years now. Along with the well-made 2009 vintage, we also had a chance to taste the 2008 and the 2007 Les Allees (Cantemerle’s second wine). The 2007 shocked us all. It was delicious. The 2009 Cantemerle was showing well. I am sure this wine will be priced reasonable and this will definitely be a wine to buy. Fruit was ripe and fresh with tons of cedar, minerals and spice box that lingered on the edges. Its finish was long and fresh. A very good effort!

Trey Beffa

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