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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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Entries in Chardonnay (57)

Friday
Nov192010

Talking Turkey: Gougères from Bethel Heights 

Image courtesy of Karen Low at Citrus and Candy.

Editor's Note: Everybody celebrates Thanksgiving just a little bit differently, which is why we've been hitting up some of our winemaking friends for some of their Thanksgiving recipes and wine pairings, which we'll be featuring over the next week. This time we reached out to Mimi Dudley Casteel, the second generation at Bethel Heights Vineyard in Oregon's Eola-Amity Hills. Mimi, along with her father Ted Casteel, tends the vines that have made this winery's offerings among some of the best over the past 30+ years. Her gougères are the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer--easy to make, sophisticated and a mouthwatering match for the 2008 Bethel Heights "Estate" Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (or both).

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Monday
Oct252010

Craggy Range at Providence

Steve Smith, Craggy Range

Most Americans don't know much about New Zealand, save some sexy landscape shots from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the wonky humor on "Flight of the Conchords." Yes, there are more sheep than people on New Zealand's two main islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, but it's not surprising when you consider that it's the world's youngest country, first settled by the Maori between 700 and 1,000 years ago. And contrary to what most people think, New Zealand is not a tiny island nation bobbing off the coast of Australia.

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Tuesday
Sep282010

Pre-Harvest Report: Willamette Valley 2010

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you might recall seeing some pleas for "no rain" or "sunshine" dances over the past few weeks. That's because I was up in Oregon interview winemakers for this blog, spending everyday looking at and tasting from the carefully tended clusters of Pinot Noir from some of our favorite wineries - Westrey, McKinlay, Chehalem and Bethel Heights - among others. And it seemed to me, what they all needed was just a few more weeks of mostly dry weather and partial sunshine to maximize their potential.

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