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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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Entries in Bourbon & Branch (1)

Friday
Oct162009

K&L High West Whiskey Dinner at Alembic 

High West's David Perkins during his presentation....Well, our first ever American whiskey dinner came off without a hitch, and I have to say it seemed like a big success.  I think everyone really enjoyed themselves and the small size of the dinner allowed for David Perkins to engage and talk with everyone on a very intimate level.  David did a great job telling us about his whiskey, and whiskey in general, with an engaging and entertaining power point presentation (the only one I've seen where everyone gets to drink whiskey while listening).  Most of the reason the event went so beautifully is because Daniel Hyatt and his Alembic staff are a serious group of professionals dedicated to making the finest drinks and serving the finest foods.  I don't think anyone was prepared for the quality and elegance of the menu.

To start, we all enjoyed a cocktail of the High West Rendezvous mixed with dry vermouth, apple cider, Benedictine, and a little rice wine vinegar.  Stunning and perfect considering the ingredients involved.  The real achievement, however, was how well the whiskey tasted with the food. The first course included crispy ocean trout with turnips, gnocchi, and caramelized onion dashi along side the Rendezvous rye.  The fish was tender and delicious and the sweetness of the onion really sang with the caramel notes in the whiskey.  When the 16 year old rye was served, we were treated to tamarind glazed sweetbreads with tart apple, cranberry beans, and horseradish.  I couldn't believe how well it really worked with the spicy and intense whiskey.  For the third and final pairing, we had foie gras terrine with huckleberry, caramel corn, cashew, and upland cress served with mini toasts.  Like Daniel said before we ate it, "It's like a fancy peanut butter and jelly sandwich."  It was heavenly with the 21 year old.  It was also my first time eating foie, which is embarrassing when you work at K&L (where it seems that at least one person is eating foie gras every week!).

It seemed like this was the place to be Wednesday night with tickets sold out long in advance.  The word must have been out, however, because mid-way through the night John Hansell and the Malt Advocate crew stopped by to say hello and have a drink.  I was so surprised and flattered that they came to give their support.  I can only hope that our next dinner coming up in a few weeks is as successful.  If you're interested in tasting some world class bourbons, learning a bit about how bourbon is made, as well as learning about mixology and cocktails, then you should join us November 4th in Redwood City when Bourbon & Branch founder Todd Smith hosts our next event at Martin's West Gastropub. Buy your tickets now, I'm sure this event will sell out quickly.

Here are some pictures from a very enjoyable evening.  I hope to see you all next we do this!

David Driscoll