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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 Michigan (1)

Tuesday
Jun082010

What We're Drinking

The thing about writing is that sometimes it interferes with doing. At my last job as a writer/editor for an online outdoor sports magazine called MountainZone, I penned stories about rock climbing and mountaineering, kayaking and snowboarding, adventure racing and mountain biking, most of which I used to do, too. Until I didn't. The better I got at my job, the less time I spent with my hands wedged into the seams of giant granite boulders or shredding through the tree-studded backcountry on a powder day.

Fortunately, that's not the case with wine writing or working in a wine shop. Which is why I'm introducing this new feature to the K&L blog called, simply, What We're Drinking.

What We're Drinking is about just that. What. We. Are. Drinking. Of course, that includes me, K&L's writer/editor, but I'll also interview other K&L team members to find out what they're imbibing when they're not on the clock, whether it's at their local watering hole or on their back porch at a Father's Day barbecue.

To start us off, here's a round-up of some of my highlights from the last week:

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales "Bam Noire" Dark Farmhouse Ale (750ml $9.99) I've been on a Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale kick for the last year, ever since I sampled my first bottle of Saison Dupont. From the folks at Jolly Pumpkin in Michigan. We drank a bottle of this with homemade turkey burgers last Thursday (use dark meat ground turkey and they won't be bland or dry, by the way) and its earthy, plummy fruit went perfectly.

At Waterloo & City, Culver City: 2008 Etz Grüner Veltliner ($11.99) I had forgoten how much I love the Etz for its bright acidity and delicate spice until I saw it on the by the glass list at Waterloo & City, one of my new favorite haunts, Friday night. It went perfectly with the seared scallop and English pea ravioli appetizer, and even better with Philly's win in the Stanley Cup Finals. Yeah, more hockey!

At Corkbar, Downtown Los Angeles: 2008 Cep Russian River Sauvignon Blanc ($19.99) Cep is the second label from the folks at Peay Vineyards in the Russian River. I've had their Syrah and Pinot Noir before, which is what they are known for, but was thrilled to discover this refreshing Sauvignon Blanc on the wine list at Corkbar late Saturday night. I didn't see the label, but since Cep doesn't make much Sauvignon Blanc (they don't even mention it on the Peay website) I'm guessing what I drank was this wine, from Hopkins Ranch in the Russian River Valley. Citrusy, minerally and low in alcohol, I think this would have been great with food, but it wasn't too bracing to drink on its own.

At Taste of the Nation, Culver City: 2008 Quivira "Fig Tree" Sauvignon Blanc ($16.99) It was pretty hot out during Sunday's Taste of the Nation bonanza in Culver City (a giant, decadent food-festival organized to raise money for Share our Strength, a charity organization to help children facing hunger and to provide them with healthy food) and the Quivira booth was a welcome site. Their Sauvignon Blanc is done entirely in stainless and is made with 100% certifed organic and biodynamic fruit. It matched the amazing handmade tortillas with squash blossoms pressed into them and topped with a spicy Indian avocado butter from Rivera perfectly.

Also at Taste of the Nation, I had a tasting of the 2008 Husch Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99) -- Are you detecting a theme yet? To me, sunshine equals Sauv Blanc. I tried the Husch SB with Akasha's Niman Ranch pulled pork with pickles and slaw and was in heaven.

So now that you know what I drank, tell me what you had...

Leah Greenstein