A First look at Our Editors’ Most Exciting New Wines
“Energetic Napa Cabernets from Howell Mountain and St. Helena impressed in recent blind tastings. A spotlight on Barolo star Paolo Scavino includes classic scores for elegant Nebbiolos. Also featured are sophisticated blanc de blancs Champagnes and tempting California Pinot Noirs. Don’t miss the 91-point, $22 Malbec and 4 classic-rated Hot Wines, including a 96-point Shiraz.”
Top California Picks
“Best bouquet of the bunch.”
-Cathy Huyghe, April 2018
“A Cabernet Winery Identifies as Pinot Noir, Too”
“Ever since its first commercial vintage in 1997, Ladera Vineyards has identified as a mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon property, producing intense, authoritative Cabs with the concentration of mountain fruit and yet subtlety of expression. When the winery purchased a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyard in Russian River Valley in 2006, and an adjacent parcel in 2008, it created a separate label for the wines from that area, in order to preserve its identity as a Cabernet specialist. But identity politics can be limiting. With the 2015 vintage, Ladera has incorporated the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay into its Ladera brand.
The interim brand for the two Russian River Valley wines was Pillow Road, the name of the property. Now ‘Pillow Road’ appears as the single-vineyard name for Ladera Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Ladera Russian River Valley Chardonnay. The vineyard itself is situated in the Sebastopol Hills area, southwest of the city of Sebastopol, just ten miles from the Pacific Ocean. With its morning fogs, large diurnal temperature swings and its Goldrich sandy loam soils, this area is considered an especially favorable location for these varieties. The 2015 wines represent the tenth vintage since Ladera’s purchase of the site.”
2017 Annual Restaurant Poll
Ladera – #12 in restaurants across America
May 2017 – Maryann Worobiec
“MaryAnn Worobiec’s Recommended California Sauvignon Blancs”
February 2017 – Bryce Wiatrak
Ladera Vineyards: Bold Mountain Cabernets
“Ladera’s portfolio, crafted by winemaker Jade Barrett, provides for an outstanding tasting from start to finish.
2016 Annual Restaurant Poll
Ladera – #6 in restaurants across America
June 20, 2016 – MaryAnn Worobiec
“12 Versatile California Sauvignon Blancs – New reviews of crisp, fresh whites from the Golden State”
“Tasting Highlights bring the best wines from our editors’ most recent tastings to WineSpectator.com members.”
“This week we’re taking stock of some of the most exciting examples of California Sauvignon Blanc. Besides Sauvignon Blanc’s telltale crisp acidity and fresh citrus and peach favors, these distinctive wines showcase what Golden State is capable of with this versatile grape.
In the right hands, California Sauvignon Blanc can showcase strong floral and herbal aromatics—orange blossom, honeysuckle, lemongrass and lemon verbena in particular. Some feature a fleshy succulence akin to the sensation of biting into a perfectly ripe peach or piece of melon.
With this selection of terrific examples priced between $15 and $30, there’s plenty of opportunity to explore.”
2015 Ladera Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley
April 2015 – Laurie Daniel
“Re-evaluations Napa’s 2011 Cabs”
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how good some of them are. They aren’t the big, bold, showy cabs that Napa Valley has become known for, but the really good examples show a finesse and balance that’s become the exception in riper vintages.
The best 2011s, instead, retain a savory character that reflects the varietal character of cabernet, with notes of anise, black olive and cedar. ‘It’s very location-driven,’ says Pat Stotesbery, proprietor of Ladera Vineyards, referring to the quality of the 2011s. ‘In supposed weaker vintages, hillside locations are the place to go.’
Ladera is in the hills, in the Howell Mountain appellation.
Stotesbery acknowledges that the good wines ‘are a little less Napa-like,’ but he says he prefers his 2011s to the richer 2010s. I found the 2011 Ladera Howell Mountain Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) to be concentrated and lively, with red and black fruit, a hint of anise and very firm tannins.”
April 2013 – Alder Yarrow
“I’ve been drinking wine for nearly 50% of my life at this point, taking notes on wine for almost 20 years, and writing this blog for nine, but despite that fact, it’s not exactly common for me to be able to say with certainty that I’ve tasted every vintage of a particular wine made by any one winery. Even those wineries whose inaugural vintages debuted since Vinography became a going concern I am generally not able to taste their wines with regularity every single year.
But there are a few wineries whose wines I have been buying and tasting since I found out about them, and Ladera Vineyards is one of them. I’ve been continually impressed with the quality, consistency, and personality of the wines since day one.
Ladera means ‘hillside’ or ‘slope’ in Spanish, and in this single word you will find captured the essence of Ladera’s wines. Owners Pat and Anne Stotesbery farm a hillside estate on the top of Howell Mountain with a single-minded focus on producing wine that speaks of its origins.”
A Taste of America – California, Napa Valley
“We are back on the road for our Taste of America Tour, with a stop at one of the most beautiful spots in the country, Napa Valley in California where they produce some of literally the best wines in the world. And here with his favorite and affordable summer Napa wines is Food & Wine magazine executive wine editor, Ray Isle.
‘If there is one thing Napa Valley is known for, it’s Cabernet Sauvignon. It is America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon producing region. If you want a good Napa Valley Cabernet, splurge a little, this is actually a more expensive wine, this is about $39 a bottle, but to me what you are still looking for is value. This is a $39 wine that tastes to me like a $75 wine. Ladera Napa Valley, a fantastic producer. This is a wine you could drink now, you could put it away for 10-15 years. You could have it with a gorgeous steak you could honestly have it without anything at all.”
July 2011 – Rebecca Jarvis
Napa Valley’s best affordable summer wines
Napa Valley, Calif. is simply one of the most beautiful places in the country. But it’s best-known for its wines. Napa’s unique climate and soil composition make it fertile grape-growing country, producing some of the finest in the world that are used in vintages that rival some of the best from Europe.
We turned to Food & Wine magazine Executive Wine Editor for guidance on some of the best reasonably-priced summer wines Napa has to offer: 2007 Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Finally, if there’s one thing Napa Valley is known for, it’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet is kind of the king of red grapes, and Napa is unquestionably the greatest place for it in the US. You have to splurge a little for terrific Cabernet, but the key is finding one that tastes even better than its price. This Ladera, to me, tastes like a $75 wine even though it’s only $39.” – Ray Isle
December 2008 – Sarah Lynch – Harvest Fiesta
“A historic vineyard draws upon traditions from its past and present for a celebration unlike any other in wine country.”
“Visiting Ladera Vineyards on Howell Mountain, you would never guess you are in Napa. It might be the towering redwood trees or the notable altitude. Or maybe it’s the venerable 114-year-old stone winery. On this particular autumn Saturday – when the winery is hosting its annual harvest party, a 20-year tradition – it could very well be the 10-piece mariachi band playing under a eucalyptus tree. It’s a world away from the orchestrated elegance of Wine Country. There are three simple explanations for why a trip to this winery feels like a journey back in time – the history of the land, the background of its current owners and the decades-long stewardship of the vineyard manager.”
The Best of Napa – Howell Mountain
“Ladera Vineyards is a promising newcomer.”