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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
Aug112010

Wine Wednesday: 2005 Tenuta di Sesta Brunello di Montalcino


After the brouhaha over controversial 2004 Brunello di Montalcino (producers were allegedly slipping in some unauthorized varietals to give the wines a boost), a little uneven ripening in the vineyards is a pleasant respite. If nothing else, it's much easier to negotiate. The 2005 vintage was good in Tuscany, if not cooler than usual, with some rain during the summer. This led a number of producers to drop fruit and to be incredibly selective during harvest. In some cases, this meant putting all the best fruit into the a regular Brunello and forgoing a Riserva for the vintage. But in the warmer parts of Tuscany, and the most exposed sites, the wines that resulted are excellent and ageworthy.

We recently received our first shipment of 2005 Brunelli, as well as some samples of wines that should be arriving this fall, and we were quite impressed. One of the wines that stood out the most--for its approachability despite its youth, its crossover appeal and its fantastically affordable price--was the 2005 Tenuta di Sesta Brunello di Montalcino ($34.99). Giovanni Ciacci's family has owned Tenuta di Sesta, located at the southern edge of Montalcino, for more than 150 years. Giovanni's father, Giuseppe Ciacci, bottled the winery's first Brunello in 1966, the same year Brunello was first recognized as a DOC. We started bringing the wines in as part of our Direct Import program last year, and we haven't regretted it for a second. The 2005 has an elegant nose full of kirsch, espresso and spice. On the palate, its high tone cherry fruit and spice offset by incredibly polished and well-integrated tannins. Take this home if you want something spectacular and sexy tonight (with a little decanting), though this lovely Brunello will age well too.

Leah Greenstein

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