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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
Aug202010

Food-Pairing Friday: Lamb Burgers

Lamb burgers with mint and pistachio salsa verde by Brooke Burton of Food Woolf.I love to cook, and cook up a storm. I have no problem with whipping up a batch of homemade tagliatelle on a Thursday night, or two-day slow-cooked smoked Carolina-style pulled pork. But sometimes I want dinner to be simple, to leave more time for lounging on the patio (in our case a tiny cement space between our bungalow and our neighbors) inhaling the fresh sea air and less time standing over a steaming sink of dishes. Which is why I so love this lamb burger with mint and pistachio salsa verde recipe from my dear friend Brooke over at Food Woolf. It's savory, summery and super easy.

But what do you pair it with? I vote for Mencía, the Spanish grape variety that K&L's Keith Mabry describes as "the lovechild of a Cabernet Franc from Chinon and a spicier, meatier Pinot Noir from the Côte de Beaune in Burgundy." The 2007 Castro Ventosa "El Castro de Valtuille" Mencía Joven Bierzo, at $12.99, is priced perfectly for burger night but, like the lamb burger, delivers so much more than that moniker implies. It comes from the Perez family holdings in the Spanish DO of Bierzo, from their youngest vines (20- 40-years-old) and is a great introduction to the grape. Mulchy, garrigue-like aromas complement the dark, sweet raspberry and black cherry fruit on the nose and palate, as well as the nuttiness and minty freshness of the salsa verde on the burger. Its seamless texture, fine-grained tannins and bright acidity will help it stand up to the slight gaminess of the lamb without overpowering it, but it's not so heady as to wear on the simplicity of the meal. Ah, weekends.

What are some of your favorite lamb pairings?

Leah Greenstein

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