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I had the chance to taste through 5 wines from Ladera Vineyards in the last few weeks, and came away most impressed. Owners Pat and Anne Stotesbery bought Lone Canyon Vineyard in 1997 and Chateau Woltner on Howell Mountain in 2000, and with winemaker Karen Culler, are making some very fine wines indeed. The full report is filed here; my two favorite wines were as follows:

2001 Ladera Napa Merlot Howell Mountain, 100% Merlot, $46.99, 14% alc.: Another inky, almost opaque garnet here, with a lovely perfume that features a little sea air - aquarium over rich black currant, blackberry and some blueberry, along with a perfect kiss of oak that gives it a stylish appeal. Flavors echo and expand, with deep, dark bass notes and some cinnamon and nutmeg in good proportion to the fruit. Significant tannins and balanced acids give this a solid anchor and excellent prospects for at least five years of improvement for those who can still get their hands on it (it's sold out at the winery, and limited amounts available at retail here in Michigan have mostly, if not entirely disappeared). Tannins try to clamp down on the finish, but can't restrain the exuberant fruit, and a nice note of chocolate emerges with air. I've never been big on California Merlot, but this is one that I could definitely get to know better. Yum!

2001 Ladera Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Lone Canyon, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, $56.99, 14.5% alc.: Even when decanted, this opaque purple garnet is slow to open, but with air, it becomes more and more beguiling, with a lovely perfume reminiscent of black currant, cassis, blackberry and blueberry, again, with that perfect kiss of oak that seems to be Ladera's trademark. The medium full - bodied flavors mirror these impressions, showing primary fruit with earthy undertones and significant tannins that add a bite on the palate, but over the next three hours, the wine really smoothes out, becoming more and more attractive and harmonious. Despite its sweet, perfumed character, it finishes dry, making for a very fine, food friendly Napa claret, but it needs at least a few years to begin to show at its best.

There's not a lot of this stuff around, but it's worth the effort to find some; very highly recommended!

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

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Originally posted by bez780:
thanks for the notes ,
did not know about the merlot ,
an i think they make a nother cab.
was going to do a tasting there last year but their daughter was getting married that weekend very nice people.

Correcto-mundo, bez. They also make a Howell Mtn. Cab, and a Chateau Woltner Cab; follow the link in my notes to read about those. The daughter you mention is Nicole Duncan, who is Ladera's National Sales manager.



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