Saturday, September 28, 2019

Ladera Malbec 2006

Ladera Napa Valley Malbec 2006 

We discovered this wine and purchased it following our visit to the Ladera Vineyards estate and winery up on Howell Mountain during our Napa Valley Howell Mountain Wine Experience 2008

We'd driven past the property, formerly the historic Chateau Woltner many times over the years on our treks up Howell Mountain. 

The fabulous historic winery building consists of production and barrel storage below and a rustic tasting room upstairs. It is surrounded by spectacular gardens, beds of lavender, and of course the vineyards.

Rick & Linda at Ladera winery
Howell Mountain
Ladera primarily focused on Cabernet Sauvignon of which we still hold a several cases of four different labels across three vintages from this era. We also acquired some of their Pinot Noir which was sourced from Sonoma County, as well as this Malbec grown from estate fruit, of which we still hold a half case in our cellar.

Malbec is one of the "big five" grape varieties in Bordeaux included in the "Cabernet family" of grapes.

It serves as one of the blending wines to round out and add complexity to the primary varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc or Merlot used for its deep, dark purple color, its fragrant aromas, ranging from black cherry to black pepper, and its texture which is lush and juicy in the mid palette and very soft on the finish.

Primarily a blended complement to the tannic, brooding Cabernet Sauvignon, it produces an interesting and nice stand alone wine, as well.

The 2006 Napa Valley Ladera Malbec is a blend of fruit from two mountain vineyards - 50% from Howell Mountain and the other 50% from Lone Canyon - two unique terroirs.

The rolling hills and volcanic soils of Howell Mountain vineyard lend to the bold dark fruit characters while the steep slopes and gravely soils of Lone Canyon high atop Mt Veeder contribute intense phenolic structure and complexity to the wine.

Somewhat consistent with my tasting notes way back in 2011 when we last tasted this wine: "This wine holds true to its varietal characteristics with its dark inky color, rich aromatics and bold masculine structure. The wine exhibits forward fruits flavors of black cherry and black berry with violets, red licorice, hints of vanilla, white pepper and smoky fig.

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, less complex and less structured than a Cabernet this comes across a bit flabby on opening but overcame the funkiness to reveal black berry and cherry fruit flavors, a layer of spice, hints of leather and a touch of cedar on a long finish." 

RM 89 points.

Rick with Ladera owner/producer
Anne Stotesbery
The seeds for Ladera were planted in the early 1970s, when Pat and Anne Stotesbery fell in love while attending university in Northern California. Among their many shared interests, they discovered a passion for wine, and were soon taking wine classes together, and traveling to wine country for tastings.

The next two decades took them to Minnesota and Montana, where they ran a 3,200-acre ranch with 750 head of cattle, during which time, their interest in wine continued to grow.

With deep agricultural roots on both sides of their family, Pat and Anne Stotesbery acquired their first Napa Valley mountain vineyard in 1996. Their original vineyard was on Mount Veeder, the following year they purchased their second mountain vineyard, Lone Canyon.

In 1998, Pat and Anne made their first non-commercial vintage of 100 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon.

 As a reflection of their commitment to making mountain Cabernet Sauvignons, they selected the name Ladera for their winery, which means “hillside, or slope” in both Spanish and Italian.

They moved their family to Napa Valley, and in 2000, they acquired a historic Howell Mountain property featuring an 82-acre vineyard. For the next 16 years, this property served as the home for Ladera.

Around 2008, their son Dan visited us while on a wine promotion trip and we took him around to several of the local wine merchants in the area. 

In 2016, following the earlier sales of the Lone Canyon and the Mount Veeder properties, with their children grown and pursuing careers of their own, Pat and Anne sold their land on Howell Mountain.

Dark color - full bodied - full firm forward fruits - a bit flabby on opening but overcame the funkiness to reveal black berry and cherry fruit flavors, a layer of spice, hints of leather and a touch of cedar on a long finish.
Rustic Ladera tasting area in the historic
chai and barrel building back in 2006.