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What We're Drinking


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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What We're Drinking

It's been another great weekend. Here's just a snippet of what we're drinking:

John Lewis, K&L Redwood City: I'm drinking Brasserie La Botteresse Belgian Blond Ale, Belgium (330ml $5.49). Absolutely perfect for the summer--smooth with a little lemon zest and, I believe, a great price.

For wine, I'm drinking the 2009 La Graside Blanc, Bordeaux ($10.99). Good by the pool, lake, river, ocean, etc.

Joe Manekin, "Latin" wine buyer: Irouleguy! I've been a bit partial to the Basque stuff on the Spanish side of the border, neglecting delicious French Basque wines. Irouleguy lies somewhere between traditional Bordeaux and Chinon in terms of its structure. Both of the reds below were delicious with two meals I prepared. First, a veg based dinner of sauteed kale, garbanzos and bacon, with a side of pisto. The next night I roasted a chicken and then enjoyed some great Petit Basque cheese.  Here are our two Irouleguy wines:

2006 Domaine Ilarria Irouleguy Rouge ($15.99) Tannat, Cab Franc and Cab.  Savory red fruits, with a pronounced paprika-like peppery quality on the nose.  Delicious mid-weight fruit on the palate, with minerality and a wonderful sense of balance.

2005 Domaine Etxegaraya "Cuvee Lehengoa" Irouleguy Rouge ($17.99) Darker fruit, more seriously structured, and definitely reminded me of a somewhat serious Chinon, though this one is mainly Tannat and Cab--no Cab Franc whatsoever!  Anyway, there is some more noticeable oak here, which presents itself in the wood tannins, but plenty of delicious fruit, balanced acidity and a lavender-like florality here. Also a very good bottle, and surprisingly food friendly as well given the wine's heft.

Keith Wollenberg, Burgundy Buyer: On hot afternoons, I am drinking my favorite summer beverage, the *perfect* gin and tonic:

Fill a lowball glass with ice, some crushed, some cubes.  Add 1 1/2 ounce Right Gin, take Fever Tree Tonic Water, add 1/2 bottle.  Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon into the glass and stir.  If you have little else on your agenda, the second half of the tonic water and the other half of the Meyer lemon remain available for a second drink...

The other thing I had recently was the perfect barbecued burger, accompanied by a nice bottle of Burgundy: Grass-fed organic ground meat from the local farmers' market, seasoned with cracked black pepper and red Hawaiian sea salt. Grilled over hardwood charcoal, with a thin layer of Gouda cheese and grilled Walla Walla sweet onions on toasted La Brea Sourdough rolls, brushed with olive oil and grilled. Lettuce, heirloom tomato and Moutard de Bourgogne (made with Aligoté, not vinegar).  With I pair the 2007 Domaine Albert Morot Beaune 1er Cru "les Aigrots" (Was $60 elsewhere--Now $46.99). This vineyard, located directly north of the famous  Beaune Clos des Mouches, is always a source for fine and elegant wines.  Albert Morot, a domaine specializing in Beaune Premier Crus is one with a fine hand.  Their 2007 shows a lovely entry, with a bit of stiffer tannin and structure behind it, to let you know the wine has lots of aging potential. But it shows a pretty cherry fruit character in the mid-palate. Lovely and classic Beaune.

Mulan Chan-Randel, Rhone and French Regional buyer: 2003 Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne and sushi. This is a Gary Westby selection, and absolutely delicious. It's one of my favorite rosé Champagnes. 100% Grand Cru. So much fun to drink, juicy and spicy without being baudy. 

Clyde Beffa, K&L VP, Co-owner and Bordeaux buyer: I'm drinking the 2001 Camensac because, simply, it's lovely wine.



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