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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 Marolo (1)

Wednesday
Jan052011

Wine of the Week: Marolo Liqueur w/ Grappa & Camomile

The holiday season is fun. Really fun. All those family get-togethers, holiday parties and office shindigs. Not to mention New Year's. And traveling. It's no wonder that after the end-of-the-year whirlwind we're all feeling a little run down, maybe are having a little trouble fitting into our clothes, and are in need of a cleanse. Which is why I think that January should be declared "Digestivo Month," honoring the libations that, throughout history, have helped aid and ease the discomforts associated with all the food and booze associated with the aforementioned festivities.

There are dozens of digestivos on the market these days, from amari to limoncello, but few are as exciting as the new wave of artisanal grappas, like those from Distilleria Marolo in Alba, Italy. Now I know what you're thinking. Grappa? That harsh liqueur made from wine pomace that tastes like gasoline? (I once had a boss who compared grappa to the worst hooch he drank during the Vietnam war. He thought the grappa I served him was worse.) But the Marolo grappas are different. Made from single varietals, incredibly fresh pomace, and with the same attention to detail you'd expect from any of the region's famed Barolo producers, the Marolo grappas are decidedly delicate and smooth where the others are in-your-face harsh. (For more on the Marolo grappas, read David Driscoll's June post "I'm Going to Make You Like Grappa."

One of the most approachable spirits in the Marolo line-up is the Marolo Liqueur made with Grappa and Camomile (375ml $25.99). Made by infusing Nebbiolo grappas with chamomile blossoms--the very same little yellow buds that make one of the most popular tisanes--this is definitely more liqueur than grappa. Slightly sweetened, the fresh floral notes meld harmoniously with the rose petal tones characteristic of Nebbiolo. The Marolo Camomile is soothing and clean. Drink it on the rocks or mix it into a cocktail with gin and honey, like the Chamomile Cocktail by Jim Meehan at PDT in New York.

Leah Greenstein