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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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Tuesday
Aug172010

Wine Wednesday: 2009 Monçao Coop "Trajarinho" Vinho Verde

Last Wednesday's wine struck up a little ire in one of our readers, not because he wasn't a fan, but because he felt, with the state of the economy, that $35 Brunello was out of touch, expensive. While I stand by the fact that $35 is a helluva deal for good Brunello, which can cost upwards of $50 or $75 bottle, it's definitely not suited to every budget. But at just $8.99, this Wednesday's wine is both affordable and fantastic!

The 2009 Adega Cooperativo Regional de Monçao "Trajarinho" Vinho Verde ($8.99) is the summer sipper for K&L staff. Remarkably complex for the price, the wine is an unoaked blend of 60% Alvarinho and 40% of the aromatic varietal Trajadura. It has the fresh effervescence you'd expect from Vinho Verde, like flat lemon-lime Pop Rocks, with a streak of minerals, sweet jasmine, kiwi and racy acidity. It makes a great aperitif, but also stands up to a wide assortment of eats, from fresh summer salads to grilled sardines. Personally, I'm going to try it next with White on Rice Couple's Citrus Tequila Shrimp Skewers and a gaggle of friends in my backyard.

The wine comes from the regional cooperative of Monçao, which was established in 1958 at the behest of 25 winemakers. Today, according to importer Luis Moya of Vinos Unico, it has more than 1,700 members farming more than 1,200 hectares and is the single largest producer of Alvarinho in Monçao. But what makes the Adega cooperative special is their commitment to growing the best quality fruit, rather than being a clearinghouse for local growers to offload their crop. That shows in all of their wines, including the delicious and incredibly popular Muralhas de Monçao, which we also carry.

Leah Greenstein

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