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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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« Talking Turkey: Gougères from Bethel Heights | Main | Wine Wednesday: Turkey on the Brain »

Talking Turkey: An Ex-Pat Thanksgiving

Editor's Note: Everybody celebrates Thanksgiving just a little bit differently, which is why we've been hitting up some of our winemaking friends for some of their Thanksgiving recipes and wine pairings, which we'll be featuring over the next week. To me, no Thanksgiving meal is more intriguing than that of an American abroad--with all the inherent tweaks to incorporate local food customs and wines. Michael Affatato of Bordeaux's La Gatte was quick to share his family's tradition. And while Michael prefers older Bordeaux at his Thanksgiving table, we think his wines, with all their classic Bordeaux character, would make excellent pairings, too.

We always celebrate Thanksgiving at our home in France, being that I'm American and it's my favorite holiday. To miss this day would be sacrilege, and my fellow Frenchmen simply do not know what they are missing! We have some other American friends in Bordeaux, so we always try to get together for this special day.

First, it's hard getting fresh turkey in France before Christmas. The local butcher always looks surprised when we order ours in November! It's also hard getting sweet potatoes and corn here; two foods that are not very common in Bordeaux.


Being so close to the ocean, we usually start the ritual with some fresh oysters then a nice healthy disc of duck foie gras.

We baste our turkey the usual way, but do a reduction sauce with local wild mushrooms and apples. The best mushrooms in our area are the cèpes, but chanterelles are more easily found and taste nearly as wonderful.

We have a huge, old rosemary "tree" which provides us with the spice to lace our roasted potatoes, along with some duck fat to help "confit" the spuds.

We also preserve our red figs in advance, which are usually picked in September. Along with some walnuts from our own tree, we make a stuffing, adding some bread for texture.

Brussels sprouts privide the veg, and we also have an endive salad on hand.

All of this is preceded by a homemade pumpkin soup, and we "crescendo" the evening with a cheese course and a mousse of chocolate or caramel.

My personal favorite part of the entire meal is the wild mushroom with turkey...this, with a tall glass of local red with a bit of age on it is pure Heaven!

Joyeux Thanksgiving!

Michael Affatato

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