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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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Thursday
Sep162010

Food-Pairing Friday: Indian Sweet & Sour Chickpeas

Photo by Matt Wright of the blog WrightFood.

Some people consider a juicy hamburger comfort food. For others it's mac and cheese. For me, it's a spicy plate of Khi Mao, Thai drunken noodles, fostered over two long years working at a noodle house in graduate school. For my British friend, writer Matt Wright of Wrightfood, it's anything Indian (as long as it's good).

The thing about comfort food is that it's just as satisfying emotionally as it is culinarily, sometimes even more so. It evokes memories of easier times, eases stress and fortifies you in the face of obstacles. Which is why I loved Matt's recent Indian Sweet and Sour Chickpea and Spinach Roti recipe, inspired by his wife's recent stint as a vegetarian. If the biggest trick of a meatless main is leaving out the meat and still feeling sated, then Indian food, with its layers and layers of flavors, is the false bottom hat. The added warmth of ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cumin, coriander and clove, and the hardiness of the chickpeas, make for a welcome addition to any Meatless Monday recipe roster, even for those of us who fell off the vegetarian wagon long ago (and whole hog, as it were).

With such a complex, spicy and savory dish, I immediately think of Kabinett level Riesling for a pairing. A current favorite is the 2008 Dr. Heyden Oppenheimer Kreuz Riesling Kabinett ($12.99). Slightly advanced for a 2008, it's perfect for drinking right now with its intoxicating secondary petrol, citrus and stone fruit notes. In the mouth, it's appley and fresh, with racy acidity and peach nuances. Do not fear the tiny bit of residual sugar here, it will be whisked away by the tangy tamarind and tongue-tingling spices. In fact, a fully dry wine might get lost in the dish, but the Heyden skips alongside it, fingers intertwined like childhood friends.

Leah Greenstein

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