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Category Archives: Food

Estate Zinfandel Brownie with Zinfandel Chocolate Ganache

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Zin Brownie

Zinfandel Brownie
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup Chateau Montelena Estate Zinfandel
¾ cup good quality cocoa powder (such as Ghirardelli)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup chocolate chips (bittersweet is best)
½ cup Zinfandel Ganache (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixer or bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and then Zinfandel. Add the melted butter and whisk to blend. Mix the dry ingredients together, next add dry mix to stir these into wet mixture. Add the chocolate chips and spread the mixture into a greased pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Zinfandel Chocolate Ganache
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
½ cup heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp butter
½ cup Zinfandel

1. In a small saucepan, heat cream and butter almost to the boiling stage (but don’t boil it).
2. Pour over the chocolate morsels.
3. Let stand about 30 seconds and stir until smooth (2-3 minutes probably)
4. Add Zinfandel and stir until completely combined and smooth.
5. Drizzle over brownies and allow to cool, enjoy!

©2014 Nick Rugen Chateau Montelena

From Our Kitchen: Lamb Burgers with Nick’s Spicy Tzatziki Sauce

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A perfect paring for our spring red releases: Lamb Burgers with Nick’s Spicy Tzatziki Sauce. Best with a glass of our 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or 2011 Montelena Estate Zinfandel!

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Lamb Burger 
serves about 4


  • 1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil + more for brushing
  • 4 ciabatta rolls/ hamburger buns/ whole wheat pitas
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into rings
  • Nick’s Spicy Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)

Combine first 7 ingredients and half of olive oil in a mixing bowl, incorporating well. Next divide the mixture into four even balls, then shape into patties about 3/4 inch thick. Cook on grill over medium heat, roughly 4 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Turn grill to medium low. Brush sliced bun option with olive oil and grill until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Top bun with burger, spinach, and onion.

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Spicy Tzatziki Sauce
makes about 2.5 cups


  • 2 cup Greek style yogurt
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and small diced
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 package (1/4 bunch) of fresh dill
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Harissa, depending on how hot you like it!

Place all ingredients in food processor or blender, puree until fully incorporated. Use as a condiment with a lamb burger, falafel or anything else!

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On the road with Montelena…Pork & Cabs

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Most of us don’t automatically put “pork” and “cabernet” together when we think of food and wine pairings, but in the hands of a talented and creative chef, the combination can be magic.


At a recent Montelena dinner at Table 6 in Denver, Chef Carrie Shores partnered our ’06 and ’09 Estate Cabernets with porchetta marinated for several days in a juniper berry-laced brine.  The porchetta was roasted whole, sliced, seared, and served with a spicy blueberry demiglace and pirogues filled with turnip puree.   The hint of juniper and blueberries provided just the right flavor bridge between the richness of the pork and the complex fruit and spice flavor components of the two Cabernets.




Carrie’s menu started with a first course of seared scallops with smoked trout, miso honey butter, grapefruit and a touch of tarragon, paired with 2011 Montelena Chardonnay.  The next course:  lamb stroganoff cradled in salt-baked whole onions, served with 2010 Montelena Zinfandel.  To top it all off, after the main course of porchetta, we were treated to freshly made beignets and donuts for dessert.  How good is that on a snowy evening in the Mile High city!



Food and wine aside, two things struck me about this delightful evening—first, the enthusiasm of Aaron Forman’s Table 6 “A-Team.”  They obviously love what they do, and they do it well!  Second, it’s always so gratifying for us to meet our friends and club members, old and new, where they live.








‘Tis the Season…

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…For Dungeness crabs!

Tomorrow morning, for the second year running, George will make the trek south to Half Moon Bay to pick up a rather large order of live (delicious) Dungeness crabs from our friends aboard The Cricket. A few weeks back, he took orders from the Montelena Team and we’ve been anxiously awaiting and pondering how to serve them up…

To whet your appetites, here is one of Brian’s favorite pairings from our CELLARMASTER on the Road Tastings this year. Recipe courtesy of Brian Sheehan, Executive Chef at TPC Boston.

Avocado mousse, arugula, celery root, green apple

1 ripe avocado
2 limes (zest & juice)
½ C  Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Puree all ingredients in blender until silky smooth

2 T  lime juice
4 T Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp honey
1 tsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
Salt & pepper to taste

Blend lime juice, mustard, and honey in small bowl
Slowly drizzle in oil to form an emulsion
Add chopped cilantro
Season with salt and pepper

1 small celery root (peeled) (cut into matchsticks)
1 Granny Smith apple (cut into matchsticks)
1 tsp apple cider
Pinch of salt and pepper

Toss ingredients together


12 oz. Jumbo lump crabmeat (picked of shells)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp mayonnaise
2 tsp Extra virgin olive oil

Spoon Avocado mousse onto chilled plate
Place crab salad next to mousse
Toss apple celery root salad with honey lime vinaigrette
Place celery root apple salad on top of crab salad
Dot plate with remaining honey lime vinaigrette


Oh What A Night We Had!

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Every year, we put on an exclusive event for our UltraMont wine club members.  This small group represents the highest tier in our membership structure.

Two weekends ago, we hosted this event, which was a day and a half affair.  It started with a welcome reception at Judy Barrett’s home.  She is one of the owners of Chateau Montelena Winery.  We were truly appreciative to have this opportunity and our UltraMont members were over the moon.  Judy was a very gracious hostess and was seen often helping out in the kitchen.





Our event continued with an educational component where our members learned what types of wood are used to make a barrel, how to make one as well as how the different woods can affect the taste of the wine.  The day portion ended with a lunch and then our members had ample time to relax and enjoy the Valley on their own.



The event culminated with our first ever formal dinner.  The Harvest Moon Dinner Dance was offered in a tented space at the winery.  All of the members, including the staff, dressed for the occasion.   We even had our own paparazzi and red carpet.  Fantastic food from one of our own CellarMaster members, Tony Spleen.  And rockin’ music from the band, The Special Guests.   A good time was had by all!!!




We look forward to seeing our UltraMont members again next year.   Who knows…this might be a tradition!


Summer Garden Recipe: Ratatouille

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If you’re like me, summer means time reading by the pool, crisp & cool white wines, and a bounty of summer veggies gifted from friends and neighbors… and by a bounty, I mean a BOUNTY.  I never get tired of carting in armloads of squash and tomatoes, but recently I noticed the the stack of veggies was starting to take over the kitchen counter.  My friend Christina had the perfect solution:


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  • Pre-baked & beautiful! I love Christina’s heart-shaped le creuset

She found a recipe by one of my favorite food bloggers, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen for Ratatouille’s Ratatouille and this recipe gets 5 stars from me.


  • There is no such thing as too much thyme

I’m planning on re-creating this for our upcoming Montelena BBQ, I’m envisioning that this is going to pair perfectly with our 2006 Montelena Estate Zinfandel that has been tasting so nicely in our CellarMaster Tastings lately.

Tales of the Travelling CellarMaster Tastings: Torrey Pines Pairings

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A big thank you to all of our Wine Club members who joined us for our Traveling CellarMaster Tasting in San Diego!

We were expecting the warm So-Cal sunshine that San Diego is famous for, but the warm welcome from our Wine Club members was more than enough to make us feel at home.  Executive Chef Jeff Jackson with The Lodge at Torrey Pines did a fantastic job creating recipes that perfectly paired with our Chateau Montelena wines. I’m never going to forget the Chicken Pâté in a Donut with Apricot, which he paired with our 2009 LateHarvest Sauvignon Blanc.

For those of you looking for inspiration at home:

Chateau Montelena CellarMaster Wine Club Member Tasting Event Menu

Chateau Montelena, 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc: English Pea Purée, Dungeness Crab and French Breakfast Radish


Chateau Montelena 2010 John Muir Hannah Chardonnay: Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp with Peach Purée


Chateau Montelena, 2010 Estate Zinfandel: Potted Shortribs with Onion Marmalade


Chateau Montelena, 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Roasted Lamb Rack, Herb Bread Crumbs


Chateau Montelena, 2003 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: Preserved Duck Tostada Mole


Chateau Montelena, 2009 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc: Chicken Liver Pâté in a Donut with Apricot


We’ve recently begun hosting our Traveling CellarMaster Tastings throughout the year and across the country, exclusive for our Chateau Montelena CellarMaster Wine Club Members; yet another perk of membership.

Next stop, New York!

Simply Divine Lemon-Thyme Bruschetta

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Perfect Pairing with Chateau Montelena’s 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay!

Simply Devine Lemon-Thyme BruschettaWhat could be simpler than these fresh bruschetta? The creamy texture, delicate thyme, perfume of citrus and sweet honey are a match made in heaven for our Chateau Montelena 2010 Chardonnay!


  • 1 traditional French baguette; thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces whole milk fresh ricotta cheese
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 8-10 springs fresh thyme
  • Additional lemon zest, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

De-stem the fresh thyme leaves and bruise with the back of a soup spoon.

Mix together ricotta, half of the fresh thyme leaves and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Brush baguette slices with olive oil on one side, reserve remaining olive oil. Toast baguette slices in the oven for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned and warm.

Spread toasts liberally with seasoned ricotta. Drizzle with remaining olive oil; repeat drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with reserved thyme leaves. Arrange on serving platter; zest lightly with addition lemon if desired, for garnish. Serve warm.

Lemon Chicken Curry

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So Delicious with Chateau Montelena Riesling!

Our Potter Valley Riesling compliments the spicy and delicate flavors of this warming curry. Try substituting butternut squash for the carrots to make this a truly fall dinner.


  • 2 chicken breasts, oven roasted on the bone and shredded
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 T. butter
  • 4 Tbsp lemon curry powder (or medium madras style)
  • 2 teaspoons fleur de sel
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground peppercorns
  • 14 oz. lite coconut milk
  • 1 Qt home made chicken stock
  • 1 ½ c. jasmine rice 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 serrano chili peppers, seeded, de-veined, minced
  • 2-3 medium carrots, julienne cut
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 8 green onions, medium dice
  • 1/3 cup each finely chopped mint and cilantro
  • Juice of one small lime
  • 1 med. Heirloom tomato large dice, for garnish


Roast chickens ahead and debone when cool: shred breast meat into bite sized pieces. Heat butter and flour in a large saucepan on medium- high heat; cook roux until blonde. Add curry powder and combine quickly. Heat coconut milk and whisk immediately into roux; reduce heat to medium. As white sauce thickens, gradually add chicken stock and simmer 5 minutes. In a separate small saucepan, prepare basmati rice and cook per instructions. Add the carrots ginger, garlic, and chili pepper to curry sauce and simmer until carrots are al dente, about 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken, lemon zest, green onions and peas; reduce heat to medium low and stir occasionally until heated through.*

***Just before serving, add the coriander seeds, cilantro and mint. Adjust seasonings and stir in lime juice. Serve with basmati rice scooped into center; garnish with tomato and more cilantro as desired. Serves 6 as a main course.

Do-ahead tip: Prepare curry ahead to *, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat and continue with **.

Cocoa Nib Caponata

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A Perfect Pairing with Our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon!

Cocoa Nib CaponataThis caponata is an interesting appetizer or side dish when you plan to uncork our smooth, intense Napa Valley Cabernet. The pine nuts, tomatoes and balsamic come into harmony with the dense, nutty and slightly bitter cocoa nibs to perfectly compliment the cabernet/merlot marriage, always a lovely wine to open with dinner. Cocoa nibs are available in most gourmet grocery markets packaged in small pieces. The flavor is slightly nutty with chocolate notes and a hint of bitterness. We think it is a brilliant bridge to deep concentrated red wine aromas and flavors. Our recipe was inspired by Zazu Restaurant in Santa Rosa, California.


  • 3 medium, firm eggplant, unpeeled, 1 inch dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ lbs. garden tomatoes, peeled and diced ( substitute 1 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes, drained)
  • 1 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped small
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup raisins, soaked for 1 hours in ¼ cup cabernet wine
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
  • ½ c. finely chopped Italian parsley
  • olive oil, for sautéing
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Slice the eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and place in a single layer between paper towels, weighted with a large skillet, to press excess moisture: about 30 minutes.

In a large sauté pan on medium high heat, sauté the eggplant in single layer batches in 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil until golden and soft, about 7 minutes. Set aside.

In the same pan, sauté the garlic until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomatoes and chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted. In a mixing bowl, combine eggplant, garlic, tomatoes, balsamic, celery, raisins, pine nuts, capers, cocoa nibs, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chill the caponata for one hour before serving or spoon into a glass jar and keep for later, up to 3 days.

Delicious with crusty French bread, as a side, or spooned onto toasted baguette slices…all with a glass of Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet.

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About Our Authors

George Blanckensee

An expert event planner and an avid basketball and sports fan, George can tell you about all the best off-the-beaten path eateries.

Kali Clark

A Napa Valley native, Kali returned to the area after a stint on the East Coast and can be found documenting the latest happenings at the Chateau. When not behind the camera, she likes to experiment in the kitchen, travel, and enjoy the outdoors

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