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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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We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

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Landmarc Restaurant in NYC

Last week I was in New York for a tasting of 2004 Burgundies (more on that later). While I was there I ate at wonderful restaurant I wanted to share with you all. It is in Tribeca, and is called Landmarc, at 170 W. Broadway. ( ) The food is simple, but wonderful, with lots of French favorites on the menu, but plenty of more modern items as well. I was impressed by the food and the ambiance, but overwhelmed by the wine program. Prices for wines appear to be only about $5 above retail, and the selection is an excellent one, with Nicolas Potel Burgundies, Jolivet Sancerre, and lots of interesting wines to pick from. They do not have any wine by the glass program, since their half bottles are so reasonably priced. In a town where Beringer founder’s Merlot went for $10 a glass at my hotel, $15 for a half bottle of Nicolas Potel’s Bourgogne Rouge is just a steal. Every table had a good bottle of wine on it, as you would expect with prices like these. Kudos to proprietors Marc Murphy (formerly of le Cirque) and his wife Pamela Schein Murphy for a wonderful place and an extremely fair concept on wine. If I lived nearby, this place would be a regular hangout. -Keith Wollenberg (K&L Burgundy buyer)

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Clyde’s Picks for Dining in Paris

I was fortunate to have dined at quite a few nice restaurants in Paris during my three trips there in 2005 and would like to share a few recommendations with you. One of the perks of being in the wine business is that wine goes best with food (but both are rough on the waistline!). Hiramatsu *(52 rue de Longchamp in the 16th) is fantastic. This restaurant gained its first Michelin star faster than any other. Ph from france 1-56-81-08-80. closed Saturday and Sunday. $$$ Guy Savoy*** (18 rue Troyon-in the 17th) a *** Michelin and one of the best restaurants in the world. In france dial 1-43-80-40-61. Closed Saturday and Sunday nights as are most all 2 and 3 star restaurants in Paris. $$$+ Atelier de Maitre Albert (1 rue Maitre Albert in the 5th-across from river on right bank.. no lunches Saturday or Sunday) for great roasted chicken or lamb shanks. Also it is now under the direction of Guy Savoy. Fax: 011331 53 10 83 23. $ If you saw and enjoyed the movie “Something’s Got to Give,” go to the bistro Le Grand Colbert (2-4 rue Vivienne-behind Palais Royal in the 2nd). Thanks to the movie and the delicious food, it is one of the hot spots on the bistro scene. Owner Joel Fleury. $ If you love caviar, Kaspia (17 place de la Madeleine-right bank high rent district in 8th) is a must stop. And try one of their Russian vodkas with the caviar. Phone: 01133 1 42 65 33 32. $$$ And on the left bank load up at Petrossian (on 144 rue Universite in the 7th). Closed Sunday and Monday. $$ The rather new Astrance ** (4 rue Beethoven-in the 16th across river from Eiffel Tower) was fabulous (only about ten tables) Closed Saturday and Sunday. Phone: 01133 1 40 50 84 40. $$$ La Tour d’Argent** (15 Quai de la Tournelle in the 5th-great view of Notre Dame) did not disappoint. What a great wine list and quite reasonably priced for Paris. They listed but were not serving any wines younger than 1999. Closed Monday and Tuesday lunch. One of the few Paris two star restaurants opened both Saturday and Sunday night. Phone: 01133 1 43 54 23 31. $$$ The new l’Atelier (Joel Robuchon) in the Hotel Pont Royal at 7 Rue de Montalembert (7th) is worth the wait as they do not take reservations-all counter seating, but exquisite food. $$ And if you like Indian food try Yugaraj (14 rue Dauphine-close to Pont Neuf in the 6th)-spicy food-very few tables and good value wine list. Closed on Mondays and lunch Thursdays. $-$$ A few good ones in the 7th on Rue St Dominique: #79-Thoumeiux for great cassoulet and good hearty meals.$ #129-Fontaine de Mars. Great bistro cooking-very friendly. Great “Tete de Veau” and southwest France cooking. $ #135-Violon d’Ingres* is a very affordable starred restaurant in Paris. Closed Sunday and Monday Also very friendly owners and staff. $$ Also in the 7th, Le Divellec* at 107 rue Universite specializing in seafood. Closed Saturday and Sunday. $$ In the 6th or 5th, some favorites: Rotisserie d’en Face (2 rue Christine off of Rue Dauphine in the 6th) $ owned by Jacques Cagna whose own restaurant Jacques Cagna* is at 14 Rue Grands Augustins, across the street. $$ Brassiere Balzar (49 Rue des Eccoles in the 5th) Phone: 01133 1 43 54 13 67 is a bustling French bistro-noisy, crowded, good steak tartare. $ $$-Expensive $$-Moderate $-Good Value *** Three Star, of course! —Clyde Beffa

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February’s Picks from Italy

Big wines for a short month! Five generations and almost a hundred years ago, the Zannoni family arrived at La Fortuna back in 1907. The estate, wine cellar and business center, has been designed in such a way to preserve the originally beauty of the renovated Tuscan farmhouse and to respect traditions while adapting to the modern needs of winemaking. You can contact them at if you would like schedule a tasting or tour. 2003 La Fortuna Rosso di Montalcino ($17.99) 100% sangiovese, this “baby Brunello” is a steal at this price. Black cherries and plum with sweet tobacco mingle with a nice mineral component. This medium-bodied wine shows very good acidity. Think Mom’s best lasagna recipe. 2002 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino ($36.99) Not a misprint, Brunello under $40.00 with lush black cherry and ripe strawberries, vanilla and chocolate character and fine integrated tannins. This user-friendly Brunello drinks very well right now with a couple hours of decanting and will evolve over the next couple of years. Pork tenderloin’s a must with this sangiovese! 2003 La Fortuna IGT Sant’Antimo ($27.99) This Super Tuscan is a blend of 40% sangiovese and 60% cabernet sauvignon and sees 10 months in French oak barrels (Allier). Extremely elegant on the palate with blackberries, blueberries and a touch of coco powder, there is great length thanks to its fine-grained tannins and rich glycerine at the end. With perfect balance through the long finish, this is something special to share with your valentine. —Mike Parres

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