Category Archives: Wines
Ok, I know I commented on this in a blog a while ago, but I’ll re state it since it is important to know. The press will unmercifully declare the 2011 vintage in California a disaster. Yes, the weather has been less than optimal for growing wine grapes, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. We’ve had late June rains, followed by a mild Summer and then a few October rains. Some wineries continue that panic of “bringing in grapes” before the rains hit. Well, they’re basically saying “we’ll sacrifice optimal time for picking to avoid a total disaster.” We, on the other hand, let nature run its course. Over the decades, Mother Nature has really found ways to correct herself. Our winemaking team continues to prove to us how good this year is shaping up. We sampled juices of recently harvested fruit, and it’s as deep and rich as always. Now, I may not be the best judge to taste wine in its infancy and be able to declare it a stellar product, but I have a pretty good sense of recognizing great wine by trying the juice over the years.
Will this year be one for the ages? It’s too early to tell, but don’t be too quick to write it off. In the winemaking circles, this vintage will test the mettle of who really knows what they’re doing in trenches. I have all the confidence in our team….and proof has always been in the bottle.
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.
So this Thursday, Oct 13th, at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square in San Francisco, we’ll be celebrating the unveiling of our new tasting room in the city which is situated in the lobby of this historic hotel. This hotel has a special place in my heart for a few reasons:
1:I used to work there.
2:It defines San Francisco and its storied past.
3:There are some wonderful people who work at that hotel; and have so through decades.
US Presidents, foreign dignitaries, movie stars, sports teams have all passed through the hotel’s doors. So, it was only natural that one of the historic wineries of California should partner with this hotel to be the first (and only?) winery to have a remote tasting room in the city. The party will celebrate the opening in style with current and library wines, an amazing array of canapes from the Culinary team, and all our closest friends at the winery.
Sorry to say it’s by invitation only, but if you have one of the golden tickets, be sure to RSVP now before it’s too late (which it will be tomorrow morning). The tasting room is open to the public from 1-8pm Wed-Sat. If you’re one of our Cellarmaster club members, your benefits will apply at our new location just as if you were visiting us here at the Chateau! Be sure to say hi to Ryan or Jonnie when you stop by…
Today is the day; 2008 Napa Cabernet can now be yours. If you thought the ’07 was good, wait till you try this wine! The only problem: so little was made of it. Such a bummer.
Come see us and get a few bottles before it’s gone…
We’ve been hard at work planning a new bash for the New Year. Introducting: House Party 2012 – Rock & Rotisserie. On January, 28, 2012, we’ll open up the Chateau for our first-ever House Party, where our guests will have the run of the place (and the first glimpse at our newly renovated cellar). Upstairs, downstairs – there will be food and wine around every corner. We’ll be featuring slow-cooked rotisserie meats (think: pig, lamb, poultry and beef) to enjoy along with the Montelena classics, a special collection of older vintage wines from our library, and even a few limited-production winery-only wines. Join us to eat, drink and be merry and then stay to party the night away, dancing to the music of San Francisco’s Wonderbread 5, at the first great party of the New Year. Rock and Rotisserie 2012 - we hope to see you there.
Tickets are on sale now – reserve yours today. It’s a perfect gift for someone special; a perfect occasion to celebrate once all the holiday parties have died out; a perfect excuse to come enjoy the beautiful Napa Valley for a weekend getaway; a perfect opportunity drink some great wine, dance to your favorite 80′s and 90′s hits and be merry. Whatever your reason for joining the party, we can’t wait to see you here!
Crush for our 40th vintage started today. The first bin of Chardonnay from the John Muir Hanna vineyard arrived and we wasted no time getting a video of sorting table activity for your enjoyment. This is always an exciting time here, more so this year with our newly retrofit cellar. Enjoy.
We’re just a few hours into Harvest 2011 and already things are shaping up very nicely. It’ll be extremely busy over the next few weeks, but we’re excited to see the white grapes coming in now…
Learn more about the white wine harvest in Napa Valley by watching this video, produced by the Napa Valley Vintners:
The launch codes have been given and the pad prepared, we are T-minus 21 hours to the start of our 40th crush! The new cellar is finished, the headlamps are cleaned and checked, the crews are rested and ready for tomorrow (early) morning when we will begin Harvest 2011. The first fruit across the scale this year will be about 10 tons of night harvested Sauvignon Blanc from our Takahashi Ranch in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Vallley.
A long standing tradition on the first day of harvest here at Montelena is the Blessing of the Grapes. Tomorrow, mid-day before we begin pressing the Sauvignon Blanc, we will invite our friends and neighbors to join all of Team Montelena for an invocation and blessing of this year’s crop, the new cellar, and all of us working with them. Two priests will be on hand to help us out, followed by a few toasts, and lunch by Jade Lake. A fine way to start what is bound to be an interesting and intense Harvest 2011.
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!
Finally! We’re at 22 brix; now we need just a bit more! The heat is on and things are looking good. The challenge for our production team, however, is that it looks like everything will be coming in at the same time. Normally we get our white grapes first, then the reds and lastly the Riesling (I know, it’s white, but it ripens late because it’s coastal). This year is the perfect storm. Do we have room for all the grapes? Not to worry; you won’t see any blush wine coming out as we lump them all together. Our renovated high-tech cellar and experienced vineyard and production teams are in full preparation to handle all the influx of grapes. Will it be easy? No way – it’ll be very long days and nights in the weeks ahead, but we can take homage that the end result is always worth it.
We are bracing ourselves for the impending storm….