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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
Jan242006

Slow Cooked

That is the food I want this time of year. There are plenty of wines that pair wonderfully with these foods. A few of my favorites are: 2004 Vina Y Tia De Lozar, Ribera del Duero ($10.99) A charmer! Dark, ripe fruit immediately jumps out of glass at you. It is backed with more subtle hints of its oak, cedar, smoke and spice. On the palate the wine is similar to the nose; it greets you with dark, pure almost juicy fruits then fleshy soft tannins and behind the fruit and tannins the unmistakable savory earthiness of tempranillo. Think braised short-ribs! 2004 Bodegas Arrocal, Ribera del Duero ($12.99) This is bigger, more complex wine. The fruit is multidimensional; dark juicy berries and crunchy red fruits all tossed together. The palate is round, plush and long, the perfect showcase for all those fruit tones. Almost hidden behind the fruit are hints of oak and spicy earth that linger on the finish. Stylish, clean and modern, this is a heck of a deal. Great with Persian herb stew! 2004 Bodegas Quinta de la Quietud “Corral de Campanas,” Toro $21.99) Dark, vibrant and bold, looking at this wine you would think it was a monster, an opaque violet bruiser. The nose offers dense dark fruits and berries that slowly revealed tarry earth and exotic spices. The big surprise is the palate: structured and long with ripe supple tannins, reminding me of a forward right bank wine. Decant and enjoy this seriously indulgent wine. —Kirk Walker

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Tuesday
Jan242006

Like Dessert Wine for Chocolate…

Enjoy these wines with desserts, chocolates, cheeses or your sweetie! 2004 Bodegas Silvano Garcia Monastrell Dulc, Jumilla (500ml) ($21.99) 93 points Robert Parker: “It is produced from 50-year old Mourvedre, vinified, then fortified with alcohol ... The superbly concentrated 2004 displays blue fruits, violet, and camphor aromas, followed by a full-bodied, enormously-endowed palate with more residual sugar than its taste reveals.” 2004 Bodegas Silvano Garcia Moscatel, Jumilla (500ml) ($21.99) 92 points Robert Parker: “Silvano Garcia fashions some intoxicating, heady, sweet reds, with the Moscatel resembling a French Beaumes de Venise. With loads of exotic tropical fruits intermixed with apricots, this honeyed sweetie possesses a light gold color as well as plenty of alcohol and glycerin.” 2003 Candela Bellum, El Remate, Valencia (500ml) ($29.99) 93 points Robert Parker: “…an Amarone-styled offering produced from late harvested Monastrell. It possesses a dense ruby/purple color, a fig and raisin-like character in its perfume of blackberries, chocolate, and scorched earth, moderate sweetness, and wonderful purity as well as intensity ... one of the top discoveries of all my tastings.” 2004 Vinos Piñol Mistela Blanca, Terra Alta (500ml) ($29.99) 95 points Robert Parker: “The 2004 Mistela Blanca is a rich, sweet elixir made from White Grenache. Its amber color is followed by copious quantities of honeysuckle, creme brulee, coffee, licorice, and cherry scents in its overpowering yet complex aromatics.” 2004 Vinos Piñol Mistela Red, Terra Alta (500ml) ($29.99) 92 points Stephen Tanzer: “(90% garnacha and 10% syrah) Bright dark ruby. Pungent, wild aromas of dark cherry liqueur, smoked bacon, truffle and maple syrup. Supersweet and highly concentrated but with a surprising light touch for such a powerful, velvety drink.” Happy Valentine’s Day! —Anne Pickett, anne@klwines.com —Anne Pickett

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Tuesday
Jan242006

San Francisco Focus

This month, I want to tell you about Buehler Vineyards. I’ve written about them before and continue to enjoy the quality of wine being produced from the winery. Located 6 miles east of St. Helena above Conn Valley, the Buehler estate is 300 total acres with 65 under vine. The Buehler Family, along with wine maker David Cronin, continues to produce high quality, balanced wines at reasonable prices. Tours at the beautiful estate are by appointment only. Call (707) 963-2155. The following wines are now available at K&L: 2002 Buehler Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.99) The grapes are a combination of hillside fruit with grapes from the valley floor. The wine sees 18 months in oak, 20 % new, which adds just a taste of vanilla. A very rich and full bodied wine with great balance. It is approachable now, but I would recommend 2-3 years of aging. 2003 Buehler Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($21.99) This wine is ready to pop and pour. Full of bright black fruit and soft tannins, this wine sees 18 months of oak as well. 2003 Buehler Chardonnay ($9.99) A crisp, balanced wine with a nice creamy mouth feel, hints of mineral and floral on the nose with just enough acidity to make it great. This is the glass you want at the end of a hard day at work. See you in the City… —Mike Jordan

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