Category Archives: CellarMaster
Our members have an exclusive experience waiting for them when they reserve their CellarMaster Tastings here at Chateau Montelena. Members enjoy a semi-private, hour-long educational experience in which our library and Estate wines are sampled alongside local artisan cheeses selected for their unique flavor profiles. Set in the private quarters of the winery’s private residence, our members have an opportunity to taste and purchase select wines available exclusively to them. Members are welcome to reserve one of the islands for the day to picnic before or after their tasting. If you haven’t been to visit us in a while, please call us at (800) 222-7288 and reserve your tasting soon; this is the perfect time of year to enjoy the Chateau and the beautiful grounds! CellarMaster Tastings are offered twice daily, Thursdays through Sundays, at 10:20 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
We look forward to seeing you!
Judy Tischler, Wine Club Ambassador
Well, it’s not what you think – not from the alcohol, but from the end of another Movable Feast. After a year of planning, it came down to a four-hour party. By my calculations, that’s about 520 hours of planning for every one hour of partying….wow! Ok, ok, I didn’t spend the ENTIRE year planning, but towards the end, it sure felt like it! Anyhow, for those who came (and there were a lot of you), it looked like a good time was had by all. Look for pics coming soon.
Now comes the fun part; thinking about next year’s theme! Just when you’re ready to come up for air, you’ve got to get back up on that horse and start running again. If you have any fun ideas for next year’s Feast, send them my way. My brain is on temporary freeze.
We have just a few days left before the biggest event of the year – our Annual Movable Feast. This year’s theme: The Rat Pack and a throwback to Vegas. The front of the Chateau will come alive with costumes, music and decor – in all the glorious, if not a bit tacky, splendor of Las Vegas like yesteryear. Even the food is themed to those simpler times. Of course, we’ll have some great wines flowing throughout, including some new and never-before-seen items, such as a 2009 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, exclusively available to our club members.
So this isn’t a pitch to come join us; we’ve been sold out for weeks. Look for the pics, the stories, and most importantly, get on board early if you want to join us next year. My brain is already churning for next year’s theme.
Along with the warmer weather and longer days, we bring more good news to our wine-loving friends. This Spring, we’re pleased to release three new wines for your sipping pleasure: our 2008 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, our 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and our 2009 Montelena Estate Zinfandel. To coincide with celebration season, barbecues and cook-outs or even just those random Tuesdays when you’re craving a glass of really good red – these wines have arrived just in time for those instances. With fantastic reception from our friends in the CellarMaster wine club, we’re looking forward to sharing these wines with new friends and visitors to the winery. Whether you want something to stash away in the cellar for a special anniversary or birthday or something deliciously smooth and versatile to enjoy at a dinner next week, there’s a perfect wine for every palate and occasion. Personally? I can hardly wait for warm, late summer nights – those nights that beg for barbecuing with friends and family and enjoying a glass of our delicious Zinfandel. Why the Zinfandel? Well, I’ve found that it’s great with summer fare like burgers, barbecued ribs and grilled veggies foods that are omnipresent during the months of June/July/August/September (it also pairs nicely with chocolate and I’m definitely not one to pass up that combo). What are your spring sippers?
Wanting to pull out that 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet at sunset for friends? A perfect small bite to pair with this sumptuous red is a plate of warm gougères just out of the oven. Gougères traditionally are made with a choux pastry base. But who wants to fuss with making the pasty when guests are on the way over? Puff pastry sheets fit the bill. The versatility of this product should never be underestimated! The pastry sheets thaw quickly and can make easy work of impressing family and friends.*
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and center a rack in the oven.
Thaw one sheet of puff pastry in fridge or on the counter as directed on the package.
On a lightly floured stone counter top, roll the pastry to an 8 x 12 inch rectangle.
In two separate bowls, mix:
-one egg white and 2 T. milk
-any mixture of 3 T ea: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, madras curry, dried dill, minced dried onion or shallot. Put together what pleases you. Add to this bowl: 1/3 c. grated gruyere or dry Vella Jack cheese, and a dash of black pepper or cayenne.
Brush the rolled square of pastry with the egg white mixture; then liberally sprinkle the mixture of herbs, seeds and cheese over the pastry. Press gently with your rolling pin, using a light touch.
Using a very small cookie cutter (1.25 inch diameter, or the top of a shot glass), stamp out the shapes. This should yield at least 2 dozen gougères.
Bake on a silpat mat or ungreased cookie sheet for 18-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. These yummy bites freeze beautifully for up to a month…cool completely before wrapping and freezing. Reheat frozen gougères @ 400 degrees on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, until warm and slightly crisp.
*Tip: Keep the boxes of puff pastry frozen until you’re ready to use. You can put a box in the fridge up to a day ahead if you like, but after a few days the sheets will develop a sour taste and will fail to rise properly.
Our ship was the Regent Navigator. A smaller cruise vessel compared to the other ones sailing the Alaskan passages. This ship holds a maximum of just under 500 passengers. We boarded in Seward, just outside of Anchorage. Apparently it was the nicest day they had seen in a while – lots of sunshine.
Our first winery event was our welcome reception – all turned out. Cameron Parry, our winemaker, gave the official welcome to the cruise. We poured two older Estate Cabernets, 2002 and 2003, a 1999 Potter Valley Riesling as well as current releases of our chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Everyone was excited to be here and on this trip.
We finished in time for dinner and a good nights rest for our big day of winetasting - a mini-Quarter of a Century! Ten vintages of Estate Cabernet as well as ten vintages of our Napa Valley Chardonnay. Oh boy, can’t wait!
Recently I was extremely fortunate to represent Chateau Montelena Winery along with our winemaker, Cameron Parry, on our most recent wine cruise. We sailed the inside passage of Alaska from June 25th through July 6th, starting in Anchorage and ending in Vancouver, Canada. We along with our 50 guests, some of which are CellarMaster club members, spent some wonderful time getting to know one another during our wine seminars, receptions and dinner. My next few blog entries will be postings of this adventure along with photos of the scenery, the events and our wonderful guests.
I hope you enjoy the entries and maybe I will see you on our next cruise in 2013?
If you have ever visited Jade Lake to enjoy its tranquility – and especially if you are a CellarMaster Wine Club member who has reserved one of its two islands for personal use – you are familiar with our pavilions. These structures were originally built by Yort and Jeanie Frank, whose family owned and lived in the Chateau in the mid-20th Century. It was in fact Yort who excavated the lake, created its enchanting gardens, and named it all after his wife, whose nickname was Jade. After decades of exposure to the elements, even with our careful upkeep, it finally became necessary to replace the pavilions. This work was recently completed, faithfully replicating the original design, and even incorporating beautiful roof tiles sourced directly from China. Here is a picture of the left island pavilion, taken just before guests arrived for our annual Movable Feast event in late May. Next time you visit, we hope you take in the view. Better yet, after your visit maybe you would have a picture or two to share with us (hint…hint)?
There is another House of Representatives bill, being submitted (HR1161) , that will affect the direct shipping of your wine regardless of whether you are in a wine club, have a wine allocation or just occasionally order wine. This act was sponsored by the wholesalers and will bring us back about two decades on wine shipping. Read more here.
According to Free the Grapes.org, this is what this bill will do if it is passed:
- Establish that State Laws Override Federal Laws: Shifts the burden of proof from state to challenger in all cases that deal with the validity of any state law regarding the regulation of matters involving alcohol beverages and makes such state laws presumably valid over any federal law that is inconsistent with its provisions.
- Render Commerce Clause Ineffective: Establishes federal law that makes the Dormant Commerce Clause not applicable to any state law that deals with alcohol beverage sale or distribution unless they are demonstrated to “facially discriminate, without justification”.
This is a disagreement between beer wholesalers and beer producers. U.S. House Resolution 1161 was introduced March 17 at the request of the National Beer Wholesalers of America with the support of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. But, because of its broad scope, HR 1161 is a direct threat to wine direct shipping by exempting anti-competitive and discriminatory state alcohol beverage laws from most federal review. It will reverse the federal decision brought about from Heald vs. Granholm which was instrumental to increasing the number of states that allow legal, regulated winery-to-consumer shipments, making it essentially difficult to buy wine directly from your favorite wineries.
Please reach out to your representatives, as well as your senators, to let them know that this is not okay. Free the Grapes.org has a template that you may use to to send an email or fax directly to your representatives.
Chateau Montelena Sauvignon Blanc deserves an ideal companion for pairing. Fresh lime, aromatic herbs, and shellfish compliment the bright palate and crisp finish of this varietal. For me, it’s a light lunch or first course of Bodega Bay Crab Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc has a great acidity that champions both the citrus and the crunch in these delectable fresh rolls! No worries if you’re too far from Bodega – any fresh crabmeat rocks this dish, and so does shrimp. You can omit protein altogether for a veggie version-try adding sliced avocado! I use a spicy peanut sauce for dipping, but any Asian-inspired sauce (mango, lemon, or other prepared sauces) can boost your own kitchen creativity. These rolls take less than 30 minutes to make and plate if you have your ingredients prepped – but you do need to prepare them within 90 minutes of serving. Like sushi rolls, they will get soggy if you try to make them too far ahead.* The good news? Nutritious, delicious, low cal and a perfect match-up for our Chateau Montelena Sauvignon Blanc!
Serves 4 as a light lunch or 8 as an appetizer (makes 8 rolls)
- 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
- 3/4 cup carrots, fine julienne
- 1/4 cup green onions, fine julienne
- ½ English cucumber, fine julienne
- ¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro, reserve whole leaves for garnish
- ¼ cup snipped fresh mint, reserve whole leaves for garnish
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 8 8-inch round spring roll wrappers
- 8 ounces fresh or frozen crab claw meat
- Prepared peanut sauce for dipping
- Juice of 1 lime
- For filling, in a large bowl combine cabbage, carrots, green onions, cucumber, cilantro and mint. Dissolve the sugar in the rice vinegar; combine with soy sauce. Toss lightly with the vegetables to coat.
- For the dipping sauce: in a small bowl stir together 1/2 cup of peanut sauce and juice of one lime; season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Place 1 cup of luke-warm water in a shallow dish. As you prepare each roll, dip each wrapper in warm water for 7-10 seconds until limp (as a cooked lasagna noodle). Place on damp dish towel for filling and rolling. Don’t over-soak; they will tear or rip if over-soaked.
- Center 1/3 cup of filling about 1 inch from bottom edge of one of the moistened spring roll wrappers. Top with 2 tablespoons crab meat. Driizzle with a bit of dipping sauce. Fold the bottom edge of the wrapper over the filling. Fold in sides. Gently, roll up tightly as you would a burrito, keeping filling snug. Repeat with remaining filling and spring roll wrappers. Cut in half on a diagonal; serve with dipping sauce. *Do-ahead tip: Prep all the veggies as early as the night before and submerge in ice water; drain well on paper towels before assembling the rolls.