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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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Monday
Mar292010

Getting to Know: Tom Martinez

Name: Tom Martinez

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

I am the General Manager of the Hollywood Store.  I started working at K&L in 1983.

What did you do before you started working here?

After college I worked in the financial services industry followed by a short time with a contractor.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a big sports fan and enjoy watching and attending sporting events.  Restoring my ’65 Mustang has taken more of my spare money than spare time lately.

What’s your favorite movie?

Caddyshack and Pulp Fiction are my favorites.

What was your “epiphany wine”—the bottle or glass that got you interested in wine? Is there a current wine that you consider the equivalent?

I would have to say that the 1983 Pichon-Lalande was the first wine to really excite me.  

Describe your perfect meal (at a restaurant or prepared at home). What wine(s) would you pair with it?

My perfect meal would start with a glass of Champagne and a spinach salad with roasted walnuts. The next course would be a crab gnocchi served with A Lewis Chardonnay.  A blackened Rib Eye and grilled asparagus would be accompanied by an older Pichon-Lalande or Léoville-Barton. A fresh fruit tart would end the night with more Champagne.

How do you think your palate’s changed over the years?

I have definitely moved away from heavily oaked wines.  I find myself looking for more balanced wines with alcohol levels in check.

What do you like to drink?

I enjoy cocktails as much as a nice glass of wine.  And of course I don’t always vacation in Mexico but when I do, it is all Tequila and beer.

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

Go to tastings and try as many wines and varietal as you can.  Learn what you like but be open to all flavor profiles.  Don’t over analyze each wine.  Keep it simple.

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

If I could I would like to have dinner with my grandfather Albert Martinez, Mickey Mantle and the late Chip Hammack.   I know our conversations would include such topics as politics, women, baseball, the Lakers, jazz and money.  I think cocktails would be the libation of choice and the meal would be incidental as our conversation would be the highlight.

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