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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
Jun162010

Father's Day Gift Guide

Happy Father's Day, Dad!If you're like me, you probably haven't figured out what to do for dad this Father's Day. But fortunately for you, your dad isn't going to read this and know you haven't done anything yet. (Hi Dad!) With just a few shopping days left, I polled our staff to get their best advice on what to buy for dads of all stripes. Here are their suggestions.

For the "Gone Fishing" dad: Anne Pickett suggests the Ametzoi Txakolina ($19.99). "The last time I was in Getaria," Anne told me,  "I went to this restaurant with my friend and his dad... we had fish that was caught that morning from the bay across the street from the restaurant paired with this wine. It was perfect."

Steve Greer suggests the Ballast Point Brewing Company "Yellowtail" Pale Ale ($3.99), which won't help dad catch any fish, but might improve his storytelling.

For the "Wine is for Sissies" dad: Cindy Westby thinks you should buy a bottle of Aberlour A'Bunadh Cask Strength Single Malt ($59.99) and 22oz bottle of Avery Brewing Company "The Maharaja" Imperial IPA ($7.99). Both pack a punch and are guaranteed to put a little hair on dad's chest, since he's probably already got plenty in his ears.

For the "Thank Goodness I'm Retired" dad: John Lewis likes the 1969 Charles Krug "Vintage Selection" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($99.95) since it's delicious and, if your dad is retired, he's old enough to remember that Charles Krug's were among the best wines in Napa Valley in 1969.

Steve Greer adds the ready-to-drink 1997 Langoa-Barton, St-Julien ($39.99), which is especially good if your dad didn't get into wine until after he retired and therefore has no cellar to drink from.

And Jimmy C suggests the 2009 Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir Victoria ($14.99) and 2006 Innocent Bystander Shiraz-Viognier Victoria ($14.99), which are both lively and fresh and don't feel like work.

For the "Griller" dad: Jimmy C likes the smoky, dark-fruited 2008 Mollydooker "The Maitre D" Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia ($19.99)--a Cab lover's dream.

And whether your dad actually knows how to barbecue or just likes to play with ligher fluid, Steve Greer suggests any vintage of Ridge "Geyserville" Zinfandel ($16.99-$125.00) because they go well with meet and are are classic, like the Griller himself.

For the "Know-it-All" dad: Try the 2007 Lewis Cellars "Reserve" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($114.99) because your dad will know all about Randy Lewis.  And all about the vineyards. Or at least he'll make it all up.

For the "Has-it-All" dad: Shaun Green is smart because he knows the man who has it all, still probably doesn't have the Ravi Wine Chiller ($39.99), which is also great for "Instant Gratification" dad.

For the "Armchair Athlete" dad: Even though basketball season will officially be over by Sunday, there's still the World Cup, baseball and a whole summerfull of golf for him to watch on the tube. For marathon sports-watching I recommend the Lagunitas Czech Style Pilsner ($1.69), which is a great session beer--it's light and clean and easy to drink. If your dad is a bit more of a hop-head, try the Victory Brewing "Prima Pils" Pilsner ($1.49). It's still on the lighter side, but with more herbal, hop-driven profile.

For the "Golfer" dad: This category should probably be sub-divided. The serious golfer demands a serious drink, and the 1999 Bowmore 10 Year E. Guigal Cote Rotie Cask Murray McDavid Islay Single Malt ($49.99) is more than just a mouthful of a name. Rich, peppery and spicy, with rich plummy fruit, this is a moderately peaty Single Malt that will wow dad as he fantasizes about playing Scotland's famed links.

If your dad spends a little more time swinging the club like a weed whacker, but has a good time, might we suggest the San Juan Del Rio Mezcal ($34.99). A certified organic Mezcal that's fuller and rounder than you might expect; this has the pure agave and mineral notes that separate it from Tequila and a couple of shots might loosen up dad's swing a bit.

For the "Adventurer" dad: To me the most fun dad to buy for is the dad who is willing to try anything, even an 11-year-old Greek wine nobody can pronounce. The 2000 Hatzimichalis Xinomavro Naoussa ($13.99) is awsome, Nebbiolo-liked with high-toned cherries and searing (but integrated) tannins and hints of cookie spices.

Jimmy C suggests giving the adventurer dad a hint, with a bottle of the 2007 Boarding Pass Shiraz South Australia ($11.99). A 91-pointer (the Wine Advocate), this wine is remarkably Cote Rotie-like for the price. And maybe it will inspire your dad to take the family on a trip Down Under, or to France, or both...

Finally, for the "Groundhog" dad, who only lifts his head from his desk once a year, and the "Carpe Diem dad: While these two dads have nothing in common personality-wise, they both would enjoy a bottle of the Franck Bonville "Belle Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($67.99). Why? Well, the Groundhog dad needs something to lure him away from work, and little could do it better than this extraordinary single-vineyard Champagne. It's sparkle might even remind him that life is full of love and romance, if you take the time to see it.

And since the Carpe Diem dad already knows these things, buy him a magnum of the Belle Voyes...because there's no time like the present to celebrate your family.

Leah Greenstein

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