Category Archives: Wines
Upon returning to the office Monday morning, we were greeted with an email from a customer about an experience he’d had with one of our wines over the weekend. The wine in question: our 1976 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. He writes:
Last night I had a small dinner at my home in Healdsburg, CA, in order to honor a friend, and to try out some Napa “Cult” Cabs I had assembled. Screaming Eagle, Harlan Estate, Bryant Family etc…. But the most amazing surprise was a 1976 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast (I’ve attached a picture of that) … wow! Whoever made that wine should be very proud, it’s drinking wonderfully, even after 35+ years! Please give my regards to the Barretts and anyone else who had a hand in that very fine bottling. What a pleasure, I’m a winemaker myself, and I just had one of the best wines I’ve ever had. Bravo!
As you might imagine, it was a pleasure to find this email in our inbox Monday morning and to know we were included in a tasting with such wonderful wines. We love hearing from our customers about their memorable experiences with our wines.
What was the best bottle of Chateau Montelena wine you have ever had and who did you enjoy it with?
Oh, how we love the 2011 Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling with Asian cuisine! The traditional sweet and spicy flavors in Thai sweet chili sauces, along with a smidge of Sriracha hot sauce, provide a perfect dipping companion to this easy Tofu Tempura dish! The irresistable floral notes and bright acidity of our Potter Valley Riesling compliment the rich taste and texture of any tempura.
- (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained
- 4 cups (1 quart) safflower oil or peanut oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups club soda, chilled
- ¾ cup prepared sweet chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha , or to taste
- Slice block of tempura into thirds. Place tofu slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with paper towels. Top with a heavy skillet; let stand 30 minutes. Discard paper towels. Cut each tofu slice into bite size cubes. Hold at room temperature on paper towels while oil is heating.
- Clip a candy/fry thermometer onto the side of a medium deep skillet or large (2 quart) saucepan; add oil to pan. Heat oil to 380°.
- Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add club soda, stirring until smooth. Using a slotted spoon, OR long chopsticks,dip tofu in batter. Gently place tofu in hot oil, and fry 1 minute or until golden, turning once. Fry cubes in small batches; do not crowd pan. Remove each batch of fried tofu with clean slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Make sure oil temperature remains at 375° to 380° during each batch.
- Plate with dipping sauce, and serve. (Keep tempura warm in oven for up to 20 minutes before serving.)
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
So what is a “summer wine?” Well, the snarky (but accurate) answer is that a “summer wine” is whatever happens to be in your glass from June 20th to September 21st. However, most of the time we’re talking about anything that is light, crisp, and refreshing – a wine that can benefit from a bit of time in the refrigerator (or even – *gasp* – the occasional ice-cube in the glass). For me, most often that means Sauvignon Blanc nice and frosty right out of the ‘fridge. In fact, I think one of the things I like the most about this wine is that whenever I have a sip of it, no matter what time of the year it may be, it always conjures up visions of relaxing on warm summer evenings with family and friends.
Close runners-up for summer time R&R are Riesling and Rosie – little known fact: we make a fantastic rosé, but it isn’t available for purchase, sorry, we make it just for our owners and employees – which are both exceptional end-of-the-day thirst quenchers and also pair beautifully with that other great American summer tradition, barbeque! Try the Riesling with some Memphis style ribs – you’ll be pleasantly surprised; the Sauv Blanc, on the other hand, is a great match for barbequed oysters. As far as the Rosie goes, it is a small production rosé of Zinfandel that is great with grilled pork chops. Maybe someday we’ll make enough to share… Now, don’t worry, I’m not leaving out the Chardonnay, and no it is not 4th place on my summer (or any other) list, but it is far too versatile to be pigeon-holed as a “summer wine.” I love a cool glass of Montelena Chardonnay anywhere and (just about) any time – with delicate sable (butterfish) in August, or herb crusted roast chicken in January – it is always a great choice.
What will you fill your glass with this summer?
Is Napa still considered Bay Area? I’ll say yes. Some define the Bay Area as the outreach of BART (for those unfamiliar with the acronym, that’s our train system here). Napa County still touches part of the Bay waters – the San Pablo Bay waterway that borders the Carneros District – and provides a nice cooling effect for the varietal of grapes that prefer lower temperatures that are grown in that region.
In any case, as a sports fan, foodie, and wino, there’s no better place to be than here in Napa this weekend. Our Giants are on a winning streak – Matt Cain pitched a perfect game yesterday; the US Open comes to town; summer season fruits are here, so Farmers’ Markets are bustling; and of course, there’s always the wine country beckoning for a visit. It’s the quiet before the storm – just before the high season of visitors begins here at the Chateau, so we’re relatively quiet for now. Not to mention, three new restaurants opened up in the little town of St. Helena…
Apart from anticipating the weekend’s searing heat, it’s a great time to be in the Bay!
Today marks the beginning of Auction Napa Valley 2012, the Napa Valley Vintner’s annual charity fundraiser, and it’s shaping up to be a very exciting weekend, indeed. The weekend will include four glorious days of celebrating the best of Napa Valley – everything from private winemaker dinners to elaborate parties and more than 250 different lots on which one can bid (both here in Napa and online from the comfort of your home!). Auction Napa Valley is a not-to-be-missed weekend for wine lovers, vintners and avid wine collectors from around the world. The event is always held the first weekend in June and the proceeds from the auction will benefit health, youth and affordable housing non-profit programs in the area. We’re excited to announce that we’re participating in two lots this year: one e-auction Lot (which you can bid on from a computer/mobile device anywhere you might be) and one very exciting live auction lot that includes a private concert and might inspire you to clear some room in your cellar - in a partnership with Chappellet, Garguilo, Raymond, Shafer and Silver Oak.
So for those of you feeling lucky this weekend, you may consider bidding on E-Auction Lot #379 which includes spectacular wines from such Calistoga winegrowers as: Araujo, Barlow, Canard, JAX, Jones Family, Kenefick Ranch, Summers Estate, The Grade, Zahtila and, of course, Chateau Montelena Winery. The bottles, from all participating Calistoga winegrowers, will be presented in large format sizes.
And for those of you planning to be in Napa Valley this weekend and those planning to attend the live auction on Saturday at beautiful Meadowood, keep an eye out on Lot #35 which includes wines from celebrated Napa Valley producers and a private concert from Lady Antebellum for you and your closest friends. As if that weren’t enough, the winner will also be flown to London for a private tour of the band’s recording studio and another opportunity to enjoy Lady Antebellum in concert…in London.
Will you be bidding? If so, on which auction lot?
I’m sure by now most of you know we have a tasting room in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis. But, did you know we have a great presence throughout the city in other venues where you can enjoy CM wines? Here’s a list of few standouts you need to visit:
- 5A5 Steakhouse on Jackson St. – Set in a beautiful neighborhood, this unique restaurant features Wagyu beef (graded at various levels) and you can order your steak by the ounce to your specifications. Remember, Wagyu beef is rich; you don’t need to order typical American sizes of like a 28 oz porterhouse to truly fill you up. Hip, vibrant, great food (don’t forget the Hamachi shooters to start), and our Napa Cab by the glass!
- Four Seasons – For those who have not dined in a high-quality hotel before, let me explain (since I used to be in hotel business, I know!), some of these hotel restaurants offer the best quality of food you can get. They might not have a flagged celebrity chef behind it, but trust me, their quality of ingredients are second to none. These hotel restaurants are often loss leaders as far as the hotel ledger is concerned, but they provide this as part of the service to their guests who demand quality. What’s great is that you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy this. I had the privilege to dine there last week – they easily match, if not top, some of the well- known eateries in town. Yes, you can also get our Napa Cab by the glass there too!
- John’s Grill - Comfort food with tradition. The old Dashiell Hammett (of Maltese Falcon fame) hangout is one of the oldest restaurants in the city and still serves up a blast-from-the-past menu.
- WaterBar – On the Embarcadero. As part of Pat Kuleto’s restaurant conglomerate, you know the ambiance/setting will be spectaular, and that’s even before you take in a breathtaking view of the Bay Bridge. Some of the freshest seafood/oysters that go perfectly with our Chardonnay.
- Wayfare Tavern – Tyler Florence’s presence on Sacramento Street was a hit from the start. True tavern food, lively setting, and service that is both thorough and formal while being personal and fun. Contradiction, you say? Go there and you’ll know what I mean. And use it as your cheat day and order the fried chicken.
- Oak Room – Set within the Westin St. Francis (see above, Four Seasons). Another hotel restaurant that promises some top quality food using some of the best ingredients. It’s a shame how so many visitors clamor to the famous restaurants in the city and ignore these gems within the hotels. Trust me, stop fighting the crowds, and dine in the hotels…
So you see, I love my wine, but I just can’t get enough of the city and food!
Bon Appetit and cheers!
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.
Ok, after a couple months off (and no, I wasn’t “off”), I’m now back on the blog. Over the last few months, we overhauled some of our computer systems, and now that the work is complete, I’m able to blog again. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure I’d continue because I was not sure if there were readers out there. It’s funny how you only hear about things when you stop writing and I learned that I, indeed had loyal readers. Reminds me of when I’ve moved in the past – neighbors who I barely knew or said ‘hello’ to would come to the moving truck and tell me, “I can’t believe you’re moving, we’re sorry to see you go…” And my response: “And who are you?”
Anyways, I’m back online; but busy getting the party of the year going, Movable Feast 2012! Hope you got your golden ticket; the event’s been sold out for weeks now! Curious to know how you can join us next year? Become a CellarMaster and enjoy an afternoon in the sun with great wine, fantastic food, the entire Montelena Family and plenty of Montelena Estate Cabernet pulled from our library collection just for this once-a-year festive occasion.
We recently received a very kind email from Brennan and Lindsey Sheedy about their memorable first experience with Chateau Montelena wines. Bitten by the wine bug during the planning of their wedding, here’s their story…
THE WINE THAT STARTED IT ALL – FOR US!
by Brennan and Lindsey Sheedy
This past November, Lindsey and I were married at a small vineyard in Santa Barbara County – our wedding location and our appreciation for fine wine can be traced directly back to our introduction to Chateau Montelena. About two years earlier, while walking through the local movie store in Charlotte, NC, Bottle Shock caught my eye. We both like wine and I, a native Californian, thought the movie would be perfect for our Saturday evening. That night, we settled in with our gourmet bottle of $7 wine and were entertained as we learned the story of how the “kids from the sticks” beat the French at their own game. Over the next 18 months as we planned our wedding, wine began to play a much larger role in our life together. In wine shops and restaurants, we would point out the bottles of Montelena and, on one or two special occasions, we’d splurge on a glass of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. From that moment on, our appreciation of wine began to grow: we split a three-year vertical with a few friends; bought a small wine fridge to store all of our “good” bottles and eventually wine magazines began arriving at the house.
The wine theme was very much prevalent on our wedding day: our guests were greeted with table assignments in wine glasses; we hosted a wine tasting on the veranda before dinner and we even made wine cork napkin rings to give out as favors. Later that night, after dancing in the barrel room until the winery kicked us out, Lindsey and I headed back to our room where she had prepared a special wedding gift for me. There, waiting in our room was a basket containing the following items: the movie Bottle Shock, a copy of the book Judgment of Paris and a bottle of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.
On our honeymoon, I spent days reading Judgment of Paris. What was glossed over in the movie jumped out of the book as George Taber explored the lives of the winemakers and wineries that made the world take notice of California wine. Whether the French judges knew they were tasting Californian and French wines or that they felt duped into the competition, you couldn’t argue with the results – that California winemakers could make wine as good as the French. That significant tasting event sparked wine production around the globe and Taber gives a brief introduction to many of the world wine regions at the end of the book. During the rest of our honeymoon, I think Lindsey started to regret the gift she’d given me as I’d only let her order Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or bored her with explanations of how “right bank” Bordeaux was made predominately from Merlot.
Now home in Charlotte, the articles and tasting notes in the wine magazines have started making more sense and our cellar continues to grow. However, the bulk of our wine collection grows only with wines that we feel we have a personal connection. After reading Judgment of Paris and having watched Bottle Shock, we have learned some of the history of Chateau Montelena Winery. This past February, we made a stronger connection with the winery by visiting the Chateau. We had a great time viewing the historical notes and (cheesily) taking our picture with the champion 1973 Chardonnay bottle on display. And just recently, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a local wine dinner featuring Chateau Montelena which demonstrated the quality of the fine wines. With the rich history and the phenomenal wine, we look forward to a long relationship with Chateau Montelena. More importantly, as we explore other wines from around the world, we will always remember that Montelena started it all – both in Paris and for us.