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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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Friday
Oct152010

Food-Pairing Friday: Vegetable Crumble

Photo courtesy of Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites.

Every week, before I load a rainbow of reusable bags and rickety crate-on-wheels into my dusty green Subaru and head out to one of the many Los Angeles-area farmers' markets, I sit down and I menu plan. And every week I promise myself that I'll make at least one entirely vegetarian meal for Meatless Monday. But it rarely happens. I was, actually, a vegetarian many moons ago, but it's something I grew out of, like patchouli oil and tie dyes. I no longer believe meat-eating is an all-or-nothing proposition, and I prefer to have some on my plate -- J&J Grassfed beef, Jimenez Family Farm's lamb and pork, Lily's chicken -- at most meals because I find a lot of vegetarian mains less than satisfying. That's why I was super-excited when my friend Matt Armendariz at the blog Matt Bites posted a recipe for a vegetable crumble. Like Matt, I love crumbles but have never thought to make a savory one. Matt's recipe uses summer vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes, which sound fantastic (especially given the balmy weather persisting on the West Coast), but I've been in Boston for the last week where it's been a brisk 30 degrees in the morning, and that's got me craving Kabocha squash, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes. 

With a richer, earthier root vegetable version of this crumble, I'd seek out a fuller wine with plenty of acid, like the 2009 Weingut Allram Gaisberg Grüner Veltliner Kamptal Reserve ($19.99). From one of the top sites in the Kamptal, this wine is made by the young Michaela Haas, the fourth generation of her family to run the Allram domaine. Its lemon-pepper character carries over from nose to palate, fleshing out with muskmelon flavors, white pepper spice, minerality and plenty of acidity, though it's a bit rounder than some of the other Grüners we sell. A delicious wine to add another dimension to your veggie crumble that's so good, that combined, you might not even think about what's not on your plate.

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