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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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Friday
Nov012013

Collecting Champagne #1: Getting Started

A peak into my wine locker- safely located away from home!

The hardest thing about collecting Champagne is getting started. Champagne almost always is aged long enough by the producer to be quite delicious on release- and thus a temptation to anyone starting a collection. For my own collection of Champagne, I used three strategies to help get my stash started:

1. I buy two more bottles a month than I drink. I know- that sounds so simple it is almost silly, but when you execute this plan, you will accumulate 24 bottles, or two cases of Champagne a year. In ten years that is 20 cases… This is all you need to do to create a space problem for yourself in your cellar. If you start this November, make sure you still have two bottles at the start of December, and four on New Year’s Day!

2. Most of the time, I buy those two extra bottles in the form of one magnum. Magnums, as I have discussed at length here, age even better than 750’s, and because they are bigger, require more of an occasion (like three Champagne lovers getting together) than regular bottles. Jeroboams are great on occasion as well, but be careful about buying anything over three liters for long term storage, they might not be bottle fermented!

3. I use off-site storage for the Champagne I want to age. I am only human, and this stuff tastes mighty good on release, so having a wine locker three and a half miles from my Champagne glasses helps me to keep the corks in them. I also make sure that I have plenty of Champagne around to drink!!!

Top vintage Champagne is nearly eternal when well stored.

Any good quality non-vintage Champagne will improve unambiguously for five years in good storage conditions. Just make sure to mark the bottles of non-vintage Champagne so that you know how long you have had it. This will help you keep your hands off in the short term, and remind you to drink up years from now. Top vintage Champagne is capable of outliving people, so it is a real good bet for your cellar. I’ll cover vintages to consider in another installment, or feel free to reach out to me at garywestby@klwines.com if you would like to get started! –A toast to you!

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