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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 FFrederic Mabileau (1)

Thursday
Mar252010

Winery to Watch: Frédéric Mabileau 

Have you gotten over the picture of Frédéric Mabileau in pigeage? This is a man who is truly invested in his wine—body and soul.

All joking aside, Frédéric Mabileau is one of our favorite Loire Valley producers because he is passionate about what he does. His 27 hectares in Saint Nicolas de Bourgeuil are planted mostly to Cabernet Franc and are in the process of becoming certified organic by ECOCERT, a slow, arduous changeover Mabileau started just a few years ago. His tender care of the fruit in the vineyard continues through harvest, when Maibleau picks grapes by hand to ensure that only the best fruit is made into wine.

But why we really love the wines of Frédéric Mabileau, and are so eager to share them with you, is that they are wonderful representations of what the Loire Valley has to offer—fresh, food-friendly wines that are easy on the wallet and proof that you don’t have to sacrifice quality or taste in these hard economic times.

We currently carry three of Mabileau’s wines. The 2007 Frédéric Mabileau Bourgueil “Racines” ($19.99) is a great crossover style Cabernet Franc that comes from a single parcel planted in clay and limestone soils that are, on average, 60 years old. It is aged for eight months in barrique, which gives it more texture and spice than your average Bourgueil without being over the top. Its dark black and blue fruit on the palate is complemented by round, well-integrated tannins.

My personal favorite was the 2006 Frédéric Mabileau St-Nicolas-de-Bourgeuil “Les Rouillères” ($16.99), which has a cherry-scented perfume that sends me spiralling into memories of early summer picnics and cool ocean breezes. It also has a delicately interwoven floral component and juicy acidity that make it the perfect accompaniment to grilled fish, charcuterie or, my favorite Sunday supper, roasted chicken with panzanella. Keep your eyes peeled for a new vintage.

Lest we forget during these waning days of summer, we also have the vibrant 2008 Frédéric Mabileau “Osez” Rosé ($8.99), which is made with Cabernet Franc and has lovely citrus and peach aromas and flavors with a hint of red berry on the finish. A must-have for September sunsets.