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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
Sep012010

Wine Wednesday: 2007 Unti Vineyards Dry Creek Grenache

You've heard the legend of the 2007 vintage, right? The dry spring, the moderate summer, the extra long hangtime through the fall. The wine pundits couldn't help but wax poetic about the sultry Cabs, the ripe Pinots. But where's the Grenache love? 

Well, we found it. Packed tight inside this bottle of 2007 Unti Dry Creek Valley Grenache ($26.99). Easily one of the best Grenache-dominant wines from California, it's starting to loosen up its petals a bit, but needs air or a little more time to fully bloom. Patience will reward you, kind drinker, with aromas of brambly fruit, white pepper, crushed fennel fronds and sage. On the palate, the fruit bounces like a rubber ball, ricocheting off underlying flavors of tar, bouquet garni and black pepper spice. There's a little sauvage hint from the 10% Mourvedre and extra structure and fruit from the addition of 10% Syrah, neither of which overpower the Grenache fruit or undermine it's juicy acidity. Personally, I'm going to pour a bottle of this in the decanter early on Sunday for my Labor Day weekend barbecue.

If you're not familiar with Unti already, it's a shame. This small, family-owned and operated winery in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley, produces some truly fabulous wines from their property, including this Grenache, as well as Zinfandel, a Rhone-style blend called Petite Frere, a white Rhone blend called Cuvee Blanc and Syrah, among others. Farmed under the watchful eye of George Unti and his son Mick, the wines are crafted with the help of Sebastien Pochan, a winemaker trained in the heart of the Languedoc. They make a powerful trio, and it shows. Their wines just keep getting better.

Leah Greenstein

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