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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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Tuesday
Oct122010

Cheese & Wine Pairing with Paige the Cheese Handler

If you've ever gotten into a conversation with someone on K&L's staff about cheese, you'd know we're more than a little nuts about it. Its complexity and diversity parallels wine, and its ability to showcase the place where its from makes it a natural interest for those of us passionate about terroir. That's why we decided to invite Paige Handler, the Cheese Handler, over to K&L Hollywood one afternoon to explore cheese and wine's natural affinity for one another, and to try our hand at coming up with some of our own pairings.

There are a couple of ways to attack pairing cheese and wine, according to Paige. The simplest way is to try and find wines that come from the same region as the cheese. A simple example would be serving Idiazabal, a lightly smoked sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region of Spain, with a Txakolina, also from the Basque region of Spain. You can also try matching characteristics - an herbaceous goat cheese would match an herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc nicely - or go for contrasting notes, such as a fatty, rich, tangy blue cheese with something sweet and high in acidity like Sauternes. We tried a total of four cheeses the day we filmed this, all sourced from Joan's on Third in Los Angeles, and paired them with wines off the shelf at K&L Hollywood, with the help of Steve Greer. Here's a sampling...

The wine Steve and Paige chose for the Monte Enebro, a soft, surface-ripened cheese from Avila, Spain was the 2009 Pascal Janvier "Cuvee Silex" ($21.99), a Chenin Blanc from Jasnieres, located on the Loir tributary of the Loire River. The melon and floral aromas, high acidity and clean finish of the wine were a great counterpoint the the Monte Enebro's spicy, lemon cream richness. A stellar paring. 

Still not sure about setting up your own pairings or just want to leave it in the hands of a pro? Paige curates educational cheese parties and private events and can hand-select wines from K&L to go with the cheeses she chooses just for you. Perfect for holiday parties, bridal showers or just because you like cheese. Visit the Cheese Handler website to learn  more. 

Leah Greenstein

 

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