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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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Getting to Know: Jason Marwedel

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

I am a part of the sales staff at the Redwood City store, and also do some customer support on the phone lines.  I started with K&L in December of 2009.

What did you do before K&L?

Upon graduating college, I managed a specialty food and wine store in the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace. After four years I wanted to experience the corporate world, so I transitioned to the healthcare industry working for a pharmaceutical consulting firm.  It was a challenging two years, but it helped me reaffirm my passion for the wine industry.  Thankfully, K&L saved me shortly after this realization. 

What do you do in your spare time?

Above all I love to spend time with my lovely wife Emily, our families, and many good friends.  I enjoy cooking and making homemade charcuterie.  I also spend time reading, exercising, and enjoy being outdoors.  Recently I set up my first vintage HI-FI stereo system, and am beginning explorations into the world of vinyl.   

What is your favorite movie?

That’s easy…The Great Escape. Steve McQueen vs. the Third Reich, what’s not to love?!

What was your epiphany wine?

Without a doubt, the 1968 Corton from Domaine Patriarche I tasted on my first trip to France four years ago.  My cousin Eric invited his brother and I to join him at the annual Hospices de Beaune wine auction.  Over the course of one week we consumed a sea of fabulous wine, but one particularly memorable day was spent tasting at Domaine Patriarche.  After hours of winding through their ancient underground caves, the magnum awaited us atop a weathered wine barrel.  The server poured us each a glass, and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before.  One couldn’t ask more of a great Burgundy.  What a magical trip….thanks again E-Man.  

Describe your perfect meal.

My perfect meal would be served family style at my house with a host of family and close friends.  For starters: an antipasti platter of jambon de bayonne, pequillo peppers and cured olives served with a glass of Txakolina from Bodega Gurrutxaga.  For dinner: a grilled leg of lamb (bone in, of course) with roasted potatoes and green beans, paired with a 1970 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial.  Next, a light green salad to aid digestion and for dessert, sheep’s milk cheese from the Pyrenees served with black cherry jam.  

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

My palate is constantly evolving.  Having only been in the wine industry a few years, I am frequently exposed to new regions and producers as well as older vintages and new winemaking traditions.  For me the most exciting aspect of wine is experiencing the unknown and committing new wine imprints to my memory.

What do you like to drink?

At home we love to drink Champagne, any and all wines from the Loire Valley, as well as traditionally-styled Rioja.  That being said, I am adventurous and always jump at the opportunity to try something new!

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

Know thyself!  There are no right or wrong answer when it comes to YOUR taste, so don’t feel the need to conform to the likes and dislikes of others.  Experiment with new wines and regions, ask questions, and always wait 45 minutes after consuming alcohol before diving in the pool!

Want to drink wines that Jason likes?

Join K&L's Personal Sommelier Service and make him your Personal Sommelier.

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