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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 SpicySaltySweet (1)

Friday
Apr022010

Getting to Know: Leah Greenstein

Name: Leah Greenstein

What’s your position at K&L and how long have you been with the company?

I’ve been K&L’s writer and editor since June 2007. I put together the newsletter every month, work on the blog, our Twitter account and write tasting notes and email blasts.

What did you do before K&L?

I managed Pizzeria Mozza—Mario Batali and Nancy’s Silverton’s restaurant here in L.A.

What do you do in your spare time?

I cook and write about food on my blog (SpicySaltySweet.com) and occasionally freelance for print and online magazines. I also love to ride my bike on the beach, hike and geek out at the farmers’ market.

What was your “epiphany wine”?

I went to Sonoma State for undergrad and we spent a lot of time knocking over wineries on Saturdays instead of bar-hopping on Friday nights. And my favorite was always the Gewürztraminer at Kunde—I didn’t even like white wine back then, but it was fresh and bright and spicy. Oh, and they played Led Zeppelin in the tasting room.

Describe your perfect meal.

I love rustic Italian and French food, like the kind cooked by grandmas for generations, paired with fresh, balanced wines.

Do you think your palate’s changed?

Absolutely. I started off liking really fruit-forward, aggressively structured wines. Now I prefer lighter-bodied, higher-acid wines with more subtlety than punch.

What do you like to drink?

Neal’s (my fiancée) home brews, craft beer, wines from all over France, especially the Loire and the Rhône, aged Bordeaux, regional Italian wines and, more recently, gin cocktails.

What words of advice do you have to offer people just getting into wine?

Don’t be afraid of us wine nerds. Sometimes we give the long answer to what seems like an easy question, but really we want you to have the best wine experience. Try new things and, most of all, don’t assume that just because the critics like it that you have to. I think everyone’s palate is different and everyone’s palate changes.

If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would you invite?

My two grandfathers and Catherine the Great because she was one badass broad. We’d drink Aviations and Châteauneuf-du-Pape from my birth year, which was said to be legendary for wine as well as for snow.