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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
Aug272010

Food-Pairing Friday: Peach Galette

A summery peach galette with vanilla ice cream. Photo and recipe by Gaby from What's Gaby Cooking.

There's little that says summer to me more than the sticky sweet juice of a ripe peach running down my arm, leaving pale yellow streaks like tears from the sun. And there are so many varieties of peaches--and their fuzz-free cousins, nectarines--hundreds, in fact, that you could eat three a day all summer long and still not have tried them all. Their names ring like terms of endearment: August Pride, Honey Babe, Snow Beauty. And while a perfectly ripe peach enjoyed out of hand can easily transport the eater to some mental summer vacation, sometimes we crave something a little more sophisticated from our fruit.

Enter the Peach Galette (recipe), like the one above, made by the spunky Los Angeles-based personal chef and blogger, Gaby Dalkin. Its simple, flaky, buttery pastry crust and free-form shape make it a much easier dessert to tackle than a pie, and it's sexy on the table like a tarte tatin. When you're shopping at the farmers' market, look for yellow-fleshed peaches and steer clear of the "sub-acid" varieties, which are all sugar and lack the dimension that really makes this dessert sing.

If you're looking for a pairing to really wow your friends at your Labor Day barbecue next weekend, couple a slice of this, topped with homemade vanilla ice cream, and a glass of the 2007 Haut Charmes, Sauternes (375ml $14.99). This Sauternes comes from the younger vines from the region's most legendary château. Sadly, I've been sworn to secrecy as to their name, but suffice it to say, its location between the Garonne River Valley, the Ciron River and the Landaise forest provide the perfect microclimate for growing botrytised grapes. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, the Haut-Charmes comes from a classic Sauternes vintage. It has honeyed apricot, mango and peach aromas and flavors that will jam with the peaches in the Galette like Charlie Parker with Ella Fitzgerald. And its rich texture is wonderfully seductive--it could even handle it if you decided to substitute the ice cream for some tangy La Tur or salty Manchego.

Leah Greenstein

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