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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 stocking stuffers (1)

Wednesday
Dec222010

Stocking Stuffers

If you're anything like me, you're spending these last few days before scrambling for little treats to stuff into stockings on the mantel. (As someone who didn't grow up celebrating Christmas, I always forget this part.) The trick to stuffing stockings, I've been learning, is to put together fun, less expensive smaller items. If you're still trying to figure out what to stuff your favorite wine lover's stocking with, here are a few ideas from K&L's Melissa Lavrinc Smith:

My favorite part of Christmas gift giving and receiving are the stockings. My picks for things I will be putting in loved ones stockings (and will hopefully end up in mine) are:

Jennifer Colliau's Small Hand Foods gum syrups and orgeat. These fantastic pre-prohibition cocktail ingredients are hard to find and will be celebrated by all of your cocktail nerd friends. 

A bottle of Le Sorcierre's Absinthe Verte in the cute little 375ml bottle may come in handy on Christmas day, or in a Corpse Reviver #2.

Or you could treat your friends and family to an amazing vermouth from Dolin, did someone suggest a Manhattan? 

If you can get your hands on one (or 6), Pliny the Elder even comes in Christmas colors! This beer has a cult following making it nearly impossible to get your hads on, but add yourself to the waiting list for first dibs!

Bethel Heights Estate, is a Burgundian-style Pinot Noir producer from the Willamette Valley perfect for a winter getaway. And the half bottle of their sumptuous "Estate" may be just what you need to stay cuddled up by the fire. 

If you are a coastal native, this baby bottle of Hippolyte Sancerre can be the perfect excuse to visit an oyster farm for an indulgent field trip. 

On second though, maybe I need a bigger stocking?

Looking for a few more ideas? Try one of the Scrappy's Bitters Gift Packs. One has mini bottles of chocolate, cardamom, grapefruit and orange bitters, while the other has lime, lavender, celery and orange bitters. Perfect for your favorite at-home bartender.

And if you're in the mood to splurge a little, the Tequila Rack "Micro Tequila Tasting Kits" (which usually retails for $200) is a very generous way to treat a tequila fanatic to some pretty incredible rare, aged sipping tequilas.

The Vinituri "Aerator" is an ideal stocking stuffer for someone who's just a tad impatient. And the "Label Off" wine label removers will help the collector keep track of their favorite bottles.

Happy stocking stuffing and Merry Christmas!

Leah Greenstein