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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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Archives
Tuesday
Mar212006

Corsica, Of Course!

Yes that is right, Corsica! This month I am pleased to be able to make this guest appearance here and talk about some of the wines that I really love to drink. Along with all the Riesling, Grüner Veltliner and funky Loire and Alsace wines that I drink, I am also keenly interested in the South of France. Granted the South of France is a large area. I cannot comment on everything in such a short space but let me say that after traveling there briefly last summer I was impressed with the energy and passion of the quality growers. I predict that in the next few years we will be hearing much more about these dynamic and evolving growing regions that are now producing wines that can now hold their own on the world stage. Now on to Corsica!! We are now importing one of the real stars of the Corsican wine scene, Yves Canarelli who produces wines near Figari on the ferociously windy southern tip of the Island. The soils are granitic in base with alluvial material and, of course, they are very poor, making for vines that must reach deep for sustenance. Corsica though the southern-most growing region in France is not by any means its hottest. It is essentially a mountain rising from the sea to heights of over 8500 feet with peaks where the snow never melts and winds that never quiet. The potential for Corsican wine is only limited by the producer’s dedication to the incredible terrior their home possesses. The 2003 Clos Canarelli “Le Petit Clos” ($14.99), a blend of syrah, nielluccio (sangiovese) and sciacarello is friendly and easy with ripe round flavors, a juicy bright mouth feel and an intriguing nose of floral and sage brush notes with hints of sandalwood and earth. Can you say lamb!! The top wine of the domaine is the 2003 Clos Canarelli ($24.99). This blend of old-vine syrah and nielluccio aged in wood is one of the great wines of the island and of Southern France. It is dense and powerful with a strong mineral component even in a hot year like ’03, yet it is still fresh and very supple due to the cooling winds of Figari. The nose is exotic in the way you would imagine a Sultan’s tent to smell with incense and dates, smoke from a fire roasting meats and that elusive term, garrigue, the sweet, warm smell of herbs and soil and brush. You can drink this now if you decant it, but the wine will be at its best from 2008-2015+ —Jeff Vierra

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Tuesday
Mar212006

Moulin de la Gardette

Ecoutez s’il vous plait! The 2003s from Moulin de la Gardette have arrived! These Gigondas beauties from Jean-Baptiste Meunier have been on our list of favorites here at K&L for the last several vintages now, and boy are we stoked about the recent arrival of these Rhones from the very sunny and warm 2003 vintage. Meunier’s small domaine encompasses approximately 17.5 acres from clay and limestone soils located on both the terraced vineyards as well as the lower plateaus of Gigondas. The average vine age here is around 60 years, and from very low yields, Meunier crafts a range of powerful yet fine grenache-based reds. Are you curious about all of the hoopla over these wines? Then read on! The 2003 Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas “Tradition” ($18.99) is a lovely southern Rhone with super bright cherry notes, along with hints of sassafras, lavender and cocoa power. This southern Rhone posess very nice balance, with juicy fruit and medium-fine tannins that make the finish on this wine elegant rather than coarse and chewy. Crack open a bottle of the Tradition and enjoy with grilled chicken and fig sausages or a homemade wild mushroom pizza! Think of the 2003 Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas “Cuvee Ventabren” ($27.99) as the “Tradition’s” big brother, which hails from the estates oldest vines, some of them being nearly 100 years in age! Notes of Provencal garrigue and black olive come to mind, along with lush black cherry and boysenberry fruits. The “Ventabren” is a step up as far as depth, focus and age-worthiness are concerned. Best from 2008, or decant for a couple hours and enjoy with heartier fare like a grilled rib-eye steak slathered in black olive butter! Enjoy! —Mulan Chan

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Tuesday
Mar212006

Jim C’s View Down Under

While you are hopefully reading this, my cohort in Southern Hemispheric interests, Shaun Green, will be on his way to South Africa for the first time. So, I’m going to share a couple of those wines with you now as I have a feeling he will be waxing poetic about the wines of South Africa upon his return. 2003 Fairview “Caldera” Swartland South Africa ($22.99) This wine is made by Charles Back, the man who produces Goats do Roam, the biggest selling South African wine in the States. With this effort, he has blended 47% grenache from 61-year-old bushvines with 29% mourvèdre and 24% shiraz. The grapes are hand sorted and fermented in open-top barrels and then basket pressed. The bouquet has notes of dusty raspberry, earth, red licorice, smoke and pepper. On the palate the wine has silky tannins with hints of cedar and chocolate. 2004 Glen Carlou Chardonnay Paarl South Africa ($12.99) The Glen Carlou Chardonnay has got to be one of the great bargains in the wine business. The wine is barrel aged for 10 months in assorted French oak with 5% of the final blend in American. The nose is bright and fresh with notes of citrus, spiced pear, apple, light toasty oak and nuts. All of these elements are enhanced by a Burgundian minerality and supported by fine acidity giving a juicy mouth feel with a long finish. I like to think of this wine as a mini Meursault, so take note Francophiles and give it a shot. Cheers! —Jimmy C

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