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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
Mar262010

Getting to Know: Joe Manekin

Name: Joe Manekin

What's your position at K&L and how long have you been with the company?

I am the Spanish, Portuguese and South American wine buyer.  I've been working here for two and a half years.

What did you do before K&L?

Before K&L I worked for a medium-sized wine wholesaler in Washington, DC.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to blog (www.oldworldoldschool.blogspot.com).  Also I enjoy gardening, cooking, drinking (but of course!), recording and listening to music.

What's your favorite movie?

I’ll always go for a good music documentary or period piece.  Rockers!— a classic late-’70s Jamaican flick) is one of my favorites.

What was your "epiphany wine?"

I think I had my wine epiphany quite young (to protect my parents I won’t say quite how young. It was a bottle of 1986 Chalone Pinot Blanc—full-bodied but bright, palate-coating and memorable. More recently, a bottle of 1981 Martinsancho Verdejo that legendary Spanish winemaker Angel Rodriguez Vidal opened for me a year ago was phenomenal.

Describe your perfect meal. What wines would you pair with it?

’79 Salon (a birthyear wine I’d love to try) and potato latkes with crème fraiche and caviar to start.  Grass fed New York strip steak grilled rare and sautéed Lacinato kale paired with ’79 Palmer (another one I need to try). Also, some Lopez de Heredia Gran Reservas from the ’60s. Finally, a decanter of Puffeney Vin Jaune served with top-notch Comte and bread from Tartine (best bread in the world) to close things out.

How do you think your palate's change over the years?

Like many palates before me, I have moved away from richer, fruitier, oakier front- to mid-palate wines in favor of higher acid, more tensely-finishing wines.  In other words, you can keep the cult Cab, but pass the Poulsard my way!

What do you like to drink?

Geek beers and geek wines.  Anything from Cantillon. Lopez de Heredia, all flavors. Muscadet. Sherry. Our wonderful DI Champagnes, especially Marguet and Tarlant! So-called “natural wines.” Orange wines like Radikon. I could go on, but at the risk of subjecting myself to abuse at the office I’ll leave it at that. Non-alcoholic drink of choice: good Gyokuro green tea.

What words of advice do you have to offer people just getting into wine?

Always consider context. If you find your tastes jiving with one of us in particular, work mainly with that person. Also, whether you want to know the various soil types of the Loire Valley or simply want a tasty dry white wine to bring to a party, let us know and we’ll take care of you.

If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would you invite? What would you serve them?

Jean-Michel Basquiat - 1981 Lopez de Heredia Viña Bosconia Gran Reserva to celebrate his breakthrough year; Frederic Chopin - 1996 Royal Tokaji Wine Company Mezes Mály 6 Puttonyos (Hungary is sort of close to Poland); medieval philosopher Maimonedes - 1787 Château d’Yquem. We’d discuss the morality of forging super rare, older bottles and whether or not our bottle was a genuine one or of magical, non-existent provenance.

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