Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you are enjoying some time with friends, family, and of course, some great V. Sattui wine! Think you might have some turkey leftover after your big feast tomorrow? We enlisted some help from local chef John Ash.
In addition to being a renowned chef, author, and food and wine educator, many refer to Chef John Ash as the “Father of Wine Country Cuisine”. In 1980 he opened his namesake restaurant, John Ash & Company, in Santa Rosa, CA. It was the first restaurant in Northern California wine country to focus on local, seasonal ingredients used to create dishes that complemented the wines being made in the region. It continues to be critically acclaimed today.
John travels the world teaching cooking classes to both home cooks and professionals. And for John, wine is always considered an essential part of the flavors of a meal.
The following recipe is from John’s Culinary Birds cookbook. Tortillitas are a little-known savory pancake from Spain that make delicious little tapas. They are meant to be served with Romesco Sauce (recipe is also below), and John recommends serving them with our Dry Riesling. Enjoy--and use up that turkey!
Tortillitas with Turkey
From Chef John Ash
Makes 4-6 Pancakes
½ cup leftover turkey meat, cut into small ½” to 1” pieces
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup chickpea flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
2 tabelspoons mixed chopped fresh herbs (such as rosemary, parsley, thyme, cilantro)
Combine turkey with cumin, coriander and black pepper and mix. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a small skillet over medium heat and cook the turkey until lightly browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season to your taste with salt and set aside.
For the batter, in a bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 cup of water and stir to combine; consistency should resemble pancake batter (if batter is too thick, add more water, a tablespoon at a time). Stir in the scallions, cooked turkey and any juices and the herbs.
Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to a 9 or 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, pour one-third of the batter into the center of the pan and tilt to form a pancake, spreading the batter gently with a spatula if necessary.
Cook until the pancake is set around the edges, about 1 minute. Flip the pancake and continue cooking for another couple of minutes, then flip it again and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until it is crisp on the outside but still moist inside. Remove from the pan and serve immediately, cut into wedges, Romesco sauce on the side to spoon over top. Cook the remaining pancakes in the same way and serve warm.
Makes 2 cups
2 large tomatoes
1 large dried ancho chile
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup peeled hazelnuts
¼ cup blanched almonds
1 (1/2-inch thick) slice firm white bread, cut into ½-cubes
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
¼ cup drained piquillo or pimento peppers, rinsed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the tomatoes under a hot broiler and roast until lightly charred and softened. Chop them and set aside, saving all the juices.
While the tomatoes are roasting, slice the chile open lengthwise and discard the stem and seeds; then tear the chile into small pieces. Heat the oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, add the chile, and cook, stirring until the oil is fragrant and the chile turns a brighter red, about 20 seconds. Transfer the chile with a slotted spoon to a heatproof bowl.
Add the hazelnuts to the skillet along with the almonds, bread, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the bread and garlic are golden, 2-3 minutes. Add the mixture (including oil) to the chile in the bowl and let cool.
Combine the chile mixture, piquillos, and vinegar in food processor and purée until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional vinegar if needed. Thin with water if desired. Can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored covered and refrigerated. Serve at room temperature.
A terrible blight (read mold) called Powdery Odium ravaged much of France in the mid 1800’s. By the time this disease was eradicated, the vines were weakened and set up for the next scourge which was even worse. It was a root louse called Phylloxera Vastatrix which wiped out almost all of the vineyards in Europe and greatly affected the New World. Hold this thought because this will constitute a future Ramblings.
Syrah is particularly prone to mold because the grape clusters are rather tight. By the time mold is manifest, it’s too late because it grew from the inside out. This prompted specialists to find a way to better ventilate the clusters by hybridizing.
Bear in mind that genetic engineering didn’t exist back then and hybridizing was a long trial-by-trial, exhausting task. Pollen had to be collected from the stamen of the trial plant with a small painter’s brush and applied to the sticky surface of the pistil of the host plant which is located just above that blossom’s ovary. When the cluster has been pollinated, a bag is placed over it to prevent any foreign pollen from getting involved. Then the fruit development and ripening pattern have to be analyzed and ultimately, a wine had to be made, analyzed and, of course, tasted. Try going through a hundred or so trials, keeping copious notes and records. It gives me the notion that nurserymen of that period didn’t live long lives.
It was Dr. Francois Duriff who successfully hybridized Syrah with a local (Rhone Valley) darling called the Peloursin. The new varietal was named Duriff after the good doctor and it goes by that name in Australia to this day. This combination produced smaller berries which allowed for better control of various molds. Smaller berries also accelerated the juice-to-skin ratio which extracted much more color and flavor from the skins, creating dense, intense, full bodied, huge (read brooding) wines. Early on, the wines were gritty, tannic monsters (so monstrous that bottles have been known to grow fur). Vintners soon learned to pick later rather than earlier and to press the skins gently, sending aggressive pressings to the distiller.
Soon, balanced, robust, rich, age-worthy wines were on shelves throughout France. Inevitably, this grape made it to Californian shores (circa 1915) and the “old timers” (like John Parducci) would plant Petite Sirah with other varietals to make Field Blends much like the Grenache vineyards in the South of France. A field blend is picking everything from that vineyard, keeping and fermenting it together and the field becomes the wine. Ultimately, Petite Sirah thrived in the dry, Mediterranean climate of California which is similar to that of Southern France.
The Name Game:
American marketers were searching for a name that would give the wine “shelf appeal” in the self service supermarket environment. They thought Duriff could not be associated with anything, much less wine. They grappled with Peloursin and thought not a chance. Finally, one bright, young “exec” thought smaller berries; why not Petite Sirah? As a final touch in relating to but separating from Syrah, they altered the spelling.
Here is an analogy that will help you. Would you see a movie starring Marion Morrison? What if that person was John Wayne??!! How about Bernie Schwartz? I’ll bet you would pay quickly to see that person as Tony Curtiss. It’s all about marketable, friendly names that can be easily associated with and related to.
The British Empire which ruled the seas and filled them with trade vessels was masterful in naming wines with difficult market appeal. Here are a few examples.
Bordeaux: This region had hundreds of Chateaus with French names – one harder to pronounce than the next, if you were not French. They simply dubbed the wines as a category called Claret (pronounced CLA- ret). By the way, they were instrumental in creating the famous Classified Growths of Bordeaux Vineyards in 1855.
Then, there is Germany with hundreds of vineyards equally hard to pronounce, if you are not German. The Brits called these wines along the Rhein and Mosel Rivers Hock Wines named after the town of Hochheim where that signature, slender Hock bottle was designed – green for Mosel and brown for Rhein (Rhine). To demonstrate confusion there are almost 200 villages along these rivers that end in heim.
Now the tongue twister for champions which again was rescued by British marketers: It was a region in the very dry part of Andalusia in southern Spain visited by the Greeks and called Xeres or Dry Land (witness Xerox or dry process). Later, it was invaded by the Moors and they called it Sherrisch. Finally, with the help of a Crusade, the locals reclaimed the land and called it Jerez de la Frontera (pronounced hay-RETH day lah fron-TER-ah). Who could possibly relate to that? So the Brits simply called the wines of the region Sherry and sub-classified the wines as Dry Sherry, Fino, Cream Sherry, etc. “Shall we ave a spoh a sheddeh”?
And, let’s never forget that the British classified and grouped all of those non-descript, average Country Wines or table wines as PLONK, which means the carafe was simply plonked on the table without comment, much less fanfare.
And, here’s a name that involved a Brit in the New World which will jog your memory every time you are in a supermarket produce section. Sir William Thompson came to California bringing with him two mating pairs of starlings for which we have never forgiven him. He also brought along some grapes that grew in England’s “Banana Belt” around Bath called Lady de Coverly which he planted along the San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley. A devastating flood occurred one year, as in those days the San Joaquin was a significant river. (Today, it’s merely a trickle.) Sir William was prompted to say: “Well that ends my grapegrowing.
A couple of years later, he returned to the flood scene and noticed wild grapes growing in profusion. He, naturally, tasted a berry and it was delicious WITH NO SEEDS….!!! It was a mutation initiated by the flood waters and it was called Thompson Seedless and Sir William became known as Seedless Thompson, albeit he sired 12 kids.
Back to Petite Sirah:
Here are the aroma/flavor profiles of this Rhone style varietal.
Fruit/Vegetable: Beetroot *** Blackberry *** Black Currant *** Black Raspberry
Wood: Chocolate *** Clove *** Mocha *** Toffee *** Vanilla
Other: Black Licorice *** Black Pepper
Meat: Here is a wine created for carnivores. From slow-cooked briskets, to smoked sausage to rich braises and stews. Charcoal grilled steaks or burgers. Boldly flavored meats are especially good like Mongolian barbecue, Mexican Mole or Beef Chili and Asado. Red meats with a sweet edge like Teriyaki or a barbecue sauce (in Pulled Pork) show especially well. And, don’t forget Mom’s Meatloaf.
Cheese: Surprisingly, Petite Sirah pairs with a wide range of cheeses and you can even bend the rule a bit by serving a mild blue veined cheese without causing a tannic collision with the salty cheese. The larger-than-life presentation of Petite Sirah and the perceived sweetness in its juicy fruitiness allows this marriage. So, without trepidation, serve a Camembert, Teleggio, Aged Cheddar, Liverot, Morbier or Chaumes.
Game: The assertiveness of game meats matches well with the boldness of Petite Sirah – perfect with venison, elk, boar and even moose.
Spice: Slightly spicy Asian dishes such as Garlic Beef or Tandoori Lamb Kabobs and most Southwestern fare.
Humble Foods: Burgers, hot dogs (Mustard based dishes), smoked meats, most sandwiches and just about any red meat with Ketchup on it.
Chocolate: A good wine to pair with 80% Cocoa Chocolate, if so inclined.
By itself: Like most powerhouse red wines, Petite Sirah begs to have a munchable companion. It’s no fun to drink this wine by itself or alone, for that matter.
With Fiery Hot Food: Remember alcohol only exacerbates capsaicin and/or the heat in spice. The combination could be memorable, but not in a good way.
With Delicate Food: The robust nature of this wine will simply overrun any shy flavors.
With Fish: The tannins inherent in this wine will give fish a metallic flavor.
When Old: When Petite Sirah is young it is flavor-packed and explosive. When aged, its prowess diminishes and it should be paired as one would with an older Syrah or Zinfandel.
(Once again, I owe a debt of gratitude to my favorite Sommelier Evan Goldstein and his second book Daring Pairing)
V. Sattui Petite Sirah:
This wine harkens from the fabled Rutherford Appellation as well as our certified organic Vittorio’s Vineyard adjacent to the winery. Dark and deeply colored, it sports highly extracted flavors of blackberries and wild plums with underlying, enticing, barrel notes of vanilla, pepper and smoke. Full bodied and muscular, the wine has abundant tannins but not those that grip your tonsils; so the wine is approachable now with a bottle promise of at least 10 years. So lay it down with your gorgeous Cabernets with confidence.
A Thought to Embrace
Looking forward, American marketers will always have their plates filled with foreign grape/wine names to Americanize and familiarize for a long time ahead. There are thousands of grapes and local, darling wines that are totally unknown a scant 100 miles from their source(s) and their magic is just waiting to be discovered. Consider a book just published listing Italy’s 624 local and indigenous grape varieties heretofore unknown, and you’ll get an idea of what excitement lies ahead for consumers and marketers alike. Maybe, God will grant me another 25 years of life to witness and record these new dimensions added to our wondrous world of wines. Of course, much depends on regularly (and moderately) taking my medicines of the vine and you know I’ll be sharing my findings with you.
“A good name is like a precious ointment; it filleth all around about and will not easily away; for the aromas of ointments are more durable than flowers”
Francis Bacon 1561 - 1626
The headwaters for the Rhone River rise out of the snowpack in the Swiss Alps flowing west and south passing some of the highest vineyards in the world. In fact, THE highest vineyard at 3600 feet is the Visperterminen Vineyard lying literally in the shadows of the Matterhorn. (Good trivia material.)
The river flows through Lake Geneva and enters France in the Beaujolais Region near Lyon where it heads south to the Mediterranean Sea. With the Alps to the east and the Massif Central to the west, it neatly parts Provence from Languedoc and the Rhone Appellation begins at Vienne.
The Rhone varietal - Syrah – has its origins in a grape growing region in the state of Fars in Persia midway between the Persian Gulf and the ruins of Persepolis about 500 miles from Tehran. The Farsi capital and principal winegrowing region is Shiraz. This explains why the Aussies refer to this identical grape and its wine with this name.
How it traveled some 3000 miles to France remains somewhat of a mystery. One legend holds that a hermit monk brought it back from one of the Crusades and planted it not far from his residential cave along the Rhone River. Hence, the principal appellation of Northern Rhone memoralizes this monk with the name l’Hermitage and its surrounding area Croze Hermitage.
A more plausible theory lies with the Greeks from the sect of Phocaea on the Island of Lesbos who were known for their distant sea journeys, mapping such coast lines as Spain, the Adriatic and France. They founded the French port city of Marseilles in 600 A.D. and most likely they brought the Shirazi grape with them. Today, we should all be rather pleased that it emerged from Iran and, importantly, made it all way to the New World (Read California).
Meanwhile, back to the Rhone Valley which has two distinct climates. The Northern Rhone region extends from Vienne to Montelimar a distance of approximately 70 miles. Here, the climate is more Continental with adequate rainfall and hot summers that give way to an early fall and cold winters. Two principal grapes are grown here along with peach trees and nuts – Viognier for white wine and Syrah for red. As one could imagine, the twists and turns of the river offer a variety of exposures to sun along with the river’s deposits and erosions of soils; Syrah ranges from powerful to graceful with a myriad of fruits and flavors that emanate from the terroir. (Aromas and flavors unique to a patch of land. Called Lieux-dit – lee-yuh DEE – in this part of France)
THERE IS A POINT TO ALL OF THIS, I PROMISE.
The Southern portion of the Rhone Valley - from Montelimar south of Avignon to Cotes du Luberon some 55 miles further south – has a more Mediterranean climate. The weather is warmer and drier with warmer fall temperatures which guarantee consistent ripeness and lusciousness with each vintage. Along with the olive trees and Lavender as far as the eye can see, there are some 20 grape varieties grown with appellate legality. The signature grape in this region is the Grenache (originally from Spain where it is called Garnacha) along with Syrah and Mouvedre. Some of the other grapes remain completely foreign even to oenophiles such as Picpoul Noir, Cinsault, Connoise and so on.
In this region, Syrah is never alone as it is ALWAYS a blend of at least two grapes and as many as 13.
Two things are common throughout the Rhone Valley. Ferocious winds called the Mistral which blow with enough force to strip vines of leaves, shoots and even fruit. This is why ubiquitous rows of cypress trees act as wind blocks and vines are head trained close to the ground to minimize the wind effects. Stones, called Gallets from the size of a fist to boulders proliferate vineyards. The one positive effect of these two elements is the lack of mildew or any problematical rot.
This region is the oldest grape growing region in France Some 2000 years ago, the Romans cultivated the vine here and sent wines to Rome that were superior to those grown around Cesar’s local environs. As Rome converted to Christianity, the Faith and clergy expanded to the Roman outposts and expanded their own beacons of the faith. All of this leads me to the most famous chateau in the Rhone Valley………………
Chateauneuf du Pape: In 1309, Pope Clement V was installed as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He was born in Bordeaux which meant that he was no stranger to wine and that he was quite content to remain in and pontificate from France rather than go to Rome. In fact, he had vineyards in Bordeaux which is known today as Chateau Pape Clemente in the region of Graves. This “arrangement” was made because The King of France and the Vatican were engaged in a nasty dispute with severely strained relations. The Pope had another small vineyard around Avignon and he decided to settle there.
It was his successor, Pope John XXII who decided to get out of the oppressive heat of Avignon and move to the more comfortable countryside. He knew about a castle ruins nearby and after managing the Vatican treasury and setting it in order, he amassed funds to build his NEW CASTLE; since called Chateaueuf du Pape. The massive and ornate structure was completed in 1338 and the good Pope died just a year after he moved into this summer residence. In 1944, the Germans returned the structure to ruins by blowing it up as they retreated from the advancing Allies.
V. Sattui Syrah is like a Northern Rhone version and the V. Sattui Entanglement is very much like a Chateauneuf du Pape, as we will see later. Meanwhile, here is an overview of Syrah.
Syrah: While history holds many mysteries and shadows which give rise to legends, here is a more modern, unromantic version which I purposely omitted from all of the charm above. A somewhat renowned UC Davis grape geneticist – Carol Merideth - claims that Syrah was the result of a French hybrid of two uninspiring grapes – Mondeuse Blanche (white) x Durerza (red). Be my guest. Go ahead and embrace any one of these historical dimensions as it’s all right with me. More importantly, let’s embrace what we have in our glass…!!!
No longer the domain of the Wine Cognoscenti, Syrah is becoming increasingly popular because of its food friendly demeanor and its ability to pair with a wide array of popular dishes. Like Zinfandel, Syrah and the vanillan characteristics of new oak are not well suited. In fact, many producers – especially those in France – prefer to use only seasoned (older) oak to allow the innate personality of Syrah to dictate the character of the wine. Finally, Californian Syrah lies scrumptiously between Australian and Cote du Rhone versions. Nice place to be.
Here is a universal flavor profile for Syrah.
Fruit & Vegetable: Boysenberry ** Blackberry ** Black Current (Casis)
Black Raspberry ** Black Plum ** Prune ** Fennel ** Black Olive
Bell Pepper ** Citrus (Orange) ** Mulberry ** Stewed Fruit ** Fruitcake
Floral: Violets ** Tea Leaf ** Mint ** Eucalyptus ** Menthol
Earth: Graphite ** Mushroom ** Charcoal ** Truffle
Wood (oak): Cinnamon ** Clove ** Chocolate ** Cocoa ** Coffee
Toast ** Vanilla ** Coconut ** Smoke or Char
Other: Peppercorn (White & Black) ** Sausage (Roasted Meat) ** Soy
Bacon ** Leather ** Animal
The implicit black pepper in syrah invites the incorporation of spices and peppers into marinades, glazes, sauces, side dishes or condiments. Dishes with a coarse texture work well with Syrah. Polenta, Black Beans, even a sauce made with whole grain mustard provide a nice scrape against this ample wine. Try French Cassoulet, Greek Moussaka and even good old American Chili (Rich but not too spicy) as partners. Bouillabaise or Ciappino and other big stews show off well. Barbecue Sauce from any region – Texas, The Carolinas, or St Louis as well as meat off the grill are great.
Keep in mind that Syrah is rich in alcohol and it will neutralize any dish with subtle nuances. Also, as Syrah ages, it becomes like an old Bordeaux and it should be treated and paired as such.
Once again, my favorite reference was at work here and that is Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein. He’s the best and I strongly recommend getting his book which is available in our tasting room.
Here is how V. Sattui Winery Syrah fits onto the global tapestry of Syrah. We have vineyards up and down the Napa Valley. Vittorio Vineyard (57%), in the warmer heart of Napa Valley, yields ripeness, chocolate, sweet blueberries, loam and white pepper. Our cooler, Carsi and Carneros Vineyards add refinement and subtlety. In my personal evaluation, I saw lovely crimson colors, smelled violets and sweet smoke, bacon, meats on the BBQ along with that inherent black pepper and an elegant, creamy texture on the palate. It definitely represents a Napa Version of the Northern, more elegant dimension of the Rhone Valley. Viola….!!!
Here is an expression found on a 17th Century Italian painting that said:
Ricorda questo bene
Un barile di vino da’ quello che ha
Se e’ vino ordinario, e’ che cosa ottenete
Se si ha l’acqua, e’ cio’ che dovete attingere
Se esso viene riempito di Gloria……………..Allora!!!
Remember this well.
The barrel of wine gives what it has
If it is ordinary wine, that is what it is
If it is water, that is what you will draw
If it is filled with glory…………………. well then.
CHE SARA’ SARA’…………..!!!
Whether it’s your favorite professional team, college team, or your kids’ little league team… we Americans love our football! At V. Sattui we are really into the spirit, especially since Super Bowl 50 will be played in February just a couple of hours down the road from us.
But some of us are even more enthusiastic about the Tailgate Party before the game! Whether you enjoy hanging out in the parking lot with your portable grills blazing, or chilling in the family room with friends, we love to fuel up on tasty fare before cheering our team on to victory. But we encourage you to think outside of the “nacho and beer” box.
This recipe comes from our friends at Harris Ranch Beef. This family-owned business is located in California’s Central Valley, has been in operation since the 1930’s. They produce some of the finest quality beef and it’s available widely on the West Coast.
These fajitas are brought to a new level of flavor when you pair them with V. Sattui’s Gilsson Zinfandel. This wine has equal “weight” to match the beef in the fajitas, some fruit-forward flavors like ripe boysenberry and blackberry that complement the spiciness in the dish.
Try elevating your tailgate to new heights—and hopefully your team’s success will follow!
Ranch House Fajitas
From Harris Ranch Beef
2 pounds, marinated Harris Ranch skirt, flap or flank steak
2 bell peppers (red, green or yellow), sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
2 medium tomato, wedged
3 cups Harris Ranch Restaurant Marinade (recipe to follow)
Slice steak across the grain into 1/4"-1/2" strips and marinate for at least four hours, or overnight if desired. Remove meat from the marinade and discard the marinade. In a sauté pan, sauté beef, onion and bell pepper over medium heat until beef is browned and onion and bell pepper are tender. Stir in wedged tomatoes and sauté for five minutes more. Serve immediately with warm flour tortillas, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole. Serves 4-6
Harris Ranch Restaurant Marinade:
8 oz. soy sauce
16 oz. water
2 oz. brown sugar
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 dashes Tabasco
1 oz. lemon juice
Combine above ingredients and refrigerate.
Mention V. Sattui’s Black Sears Zinfandel to any of our members who love big, bold flavors and you will see a little twinkle in their eye. This single-vineyard Zinfandel comes from Howell Mountain, Napa County’s highest vineyard, which is also biodynamically farmed and certified organic.
The unique climate of Howell Mountain produces wines with a firm structure, intense fruit flavors, earthy spice, and round acidity. The ashy, iron-laden soils are perfectly suited for growing full-bodied, peppery Zinfandel and earthy, rich Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
Joyce and Jerre Sears purchased their vineyard property in 1979, and now caring for the vineyards has become a full family affair, with their daughter and son-in-law, Ashley and Chris Jambois joining the family business in 2008. They are committed to using organic and biodynamic farming practices not only in the vineyards, but also in the acres of orchards and gardens on this gorgeous property.
Their love of the land shines through in the wine. V. Sattui’s 2012 Black Sears Zinfandel is a beautiful dark garnet color with concentrated blackberry fruit and a scent of cracked black pepper that is a signature of this vineyard. People love this wine because it is both restrained and loaded with flavor. It is impeccably balanced, and is ready to drink today, but if you are patient and lay it down for the next 5 to 8 years, we believe you will be richly rewarded.
Purchase our 2012 Black Sears Zinfandel here >>
Some information in this blog has been reprinted with permission. For more information about the Black Sears vineyard please visit www.blacksears.com
We’ve added a new key player to our V. Sattui team this year. Assistant Winemaker Jason Moravec joined our V. Sattui Family in July, and we are thrilled to have a passionate winemaker who literally grew up in a local vineyard. Jason’s family lived on a farm on the Sonoma side of the Los Carneros appellation where they grew 10 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. From an early age Jason has been working and learning the industry from the ground up!
Q: How was your first harvest with V. Sattui?
A: My first harvest with V. Sattui was fast and furious! My first day on the job was just a few months before the beginning of harvest and we still had months of bottling to finish. I hit the ground running and took the reins on bottling our 2013 red wines. At the same time we prepped the winery for an early harvest. The 2015 vintage was a true test of how quickly I could adapt and it went amazingly. Due to the drought and other factors during bloom, 2015 will be low yielding but exceptional quality year. I can’t wait to get crafting and shaping these wines through the blending process.
Q: You grew up helping your parents grow grapes. When did you know you wanted to be a winemaker?
A: I knew I wanted to work in the industry when I was 10 years old. I saw how it brought my family together on our vineyard ranch in Sonoma. But it wasn’t until I was 16, when I started working in the tasting room at Gloria Ferrer Winery as a bus boy, that I really knew what I wanted to do. I found that the winemaker, Bob Iantosca, was this critical focal point that pulled all sides of the wine industry together. I saw that the winemaker gets to be all over the place-- in the lab, in the vineyard, in the cellar, and even in the sales market. And I wanted that. I couldn’t wait to discover the intricacies of every department and to make my own wines for everyone to enjoy.
Q: I love pulling into our parking lot in the morning and seeing your car parked next to Vittorio's Vineyard-- plugged into an outlet we have there. When did you start driving an electric car, and what does it say about you?
A: We only have one world, and it’s our responsibility to protect it for future generations. Since I’m always seeking out new ways for our winery and vineyards to become more sustainable, it feels only natural to live life in the same way. I started driving an all electric car in 2013, and love that I have already gone 40,000 miles on zero gas.
Q: Not to be depressing-- but let's pretend it's your last day on Earth. What are you drinking? Eating with it? And who are you with?
A: That’s an interesting question for me because my birthday is December 21st, and a few years back it was thought that the world would come to an end on December 21st 2012. So I threw an end of the world birthday party and invited all my friends and family to join. I vividly remember by the end if the night my grandfather “Opa” was strumming his guitar and everyone was singing along with drink and food in hand. A roasted New Zealand lamb shank in one hand, and a glass of Mount Veeder Cabernet in the other was the icing on the cake of a wonderful experience with family and friends.
Q: What is it like to work with Brooks Painter?
A: He is a wealth of winemaking experience and knowledge, and has been a pleasure to with. I can only hope to continue my own career in the same way.
Q: I know you've only been at V. Sattui for a few months. What are your first impressions?
A: V. Sattui is a solid family of knowledgeable and inspirational people. I am very excited to be a part it.
Q: What are you hoping to accomplish in the future at V. Sattui?
A: I hope to bring some new flare to the wines and culture, while respecting the solid foundation and history that V. Sattui Winery has come to represent.
Jason and his dog, Hans
In just a few short weeks we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving, (sheesh- where does the time go?). This can be such a difficult holiday. Sharing a table with family members who know how to push our buttons with opposing political, religious, and opinionated views. Doing your best to cook the turkey to perfection, while accommodating the vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, pro-paleo, and folks with nut allergies. Even trying to decide what wine to serve can be daunting. AND YOU KNOW YOU’RE GOING TO NEED WINE!
V. Sattui to the rescue! Our Thanksgiving Box is bundled with four wines that go perfectly with a traditional holiday meal. These wines also offer a wide variety of flavors to please all of the palates at your table. The V. Sattui Thanksgiving Box is available for $89, and is available in our Tasting Room or online, and shipped to your door.
At the very least, everyone at the table will find a wine that makes them happy. Maybe you better get two boxes?
2014 Gamay Rouge
The beautiful cranberry color of this wine alone sets a festive atmosphere on the table! Add the bright and fruity flavors of strawberry, tropical fruit, and cranberry and you have a great pairing for turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes. It’s also great with smoked salmon and cured meats, which you may have as appetizers to kick off your feast. Gamay Rouge is a crowd-pleaser-- both light, and festive!
2014 Sattui Family Chardonnay
Open this bottle and take in the beautiful aromas of vanilla, citrus, and green apples! These fruity flavors follow through when you take a sip, followed by tart acidity and rich mouthfeel. This lighter bodied chardonnay will make a great pairing with roast turkey, buttery mashed potatoes, and dressing doused with gravy!
2013 Sattui Family Pinot Noir
This newly released Pinot has enticing herbal and earthy aromas followed by ripe black cherry and pomegranate flavors. It is a very versatile wine to pair with many different turkey preparations, stuffing recipes, and a spectrum of side dishes. The gentle tannins also marry well with green vegetables such Brussels sprouts, leafy greens such as kale, chard or spinach, as well as the classic green bean casserole!
2011 Sattui Family Cabernet
A classic Napa Valley Cabernet you and your guests will give thanks for! Our Sattui Family Cabernet is made in a soft, engaging style with earthy notes, sweet ginger, cocoa and hints of lilac. Strong on flavor and light on tannins, this wine will pair well with your traditional Thanksgiving meal, plus longer-cooked meats like beef stews and pot roast.
Photo courtesy Tubay Yabut/GEV Magazine
If you’ve picnicked on our property most likely you’ve seen, and maybe even purchased, one of our Picnic Packs. On the surface these Picnic Packs look like a useful convenience, especially for impromptu picnics. But they’re so much more than that.
The people who put these Picnic Packs together for us are 18-22 year-old young adults with developmental disabilities. They are part of the Napa Valley Unified School District’s Transitions Program. They are amazing young people with varying disabilities who have graduated from High School, and are now learning life and job skills as they transition to a more independent chapter in their lives. This is a business partnership that was established 30 years ago, and it’s one we are very proud of.
“We love seeing these kids come here each year and experience their enthusiasm and spirit,” says Tom Davies, President of V. Sattui Winery. “They really light up when they see the picnic packs being used here at the winery. The folks with the program say we do a lot of good for the students, but they do just as much good for us.”
“The students earn a paycheck for putting together the Picnic Packs,” says instructor Melodie Roche. “Our program helps these kids learn to budget money and manage finances. As they put the packs together, they are also learning to work as part of team and how to communicate with each other.”
Recently the class came to visit the winery, as they do each year, and we treat them to a picnic lunch and some winery souvenirs. They learn more about V. Sattui and are able to see for themselves how the Picnic Packs are displayed and used by customers. When V. Sattui President Tom Davies told them the Picnic Packs are so valuable to us they are “priceless”- the group cheered with glee and accomplishment. Students say they really enjoy putting the packs together and listen to really good music as they do it.
So the next time you pick up a Picnic Pack in our deli, we just wanted you to know it’s packed with so much more than just picnic essentials.
The children of the Boys and Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga with Dario Sattui and staff in 2013.
Just last week the Boys & Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga reached a significant milestone in its quest to build a permanent club facility in Calistoga. Currently the organization has raised $9.01 million, with a final goal of raising $9.5 million in the next 9 months.
This is a project near and dear to Dario Sattui’s heart. He donated $1 million toward the project in 2013 on behalf of V. Sattui Winery and Castello di Amorosa. In December of 2014 he pledged an additional $500,000.
“Calistoga really needs a place where young people can congregate, socialize, learn and to play sports in a healthy environment with positive role models,” said Sattui.
Draft concept of the permanent Boys & Girls Club to be built in Calistoga.
“Mr. Sattui’s vision and generosity were instrumental in starting our fundraising campaign,” says Club Executive Director Jay Templeton. “His early donations were the rocket fuel that propelled more gifts to come forward.”
Templeton says the children of Calistoga really need this facility. The Boys & Girls Club has been using Calistoga Elementary School as a home base since 2001 when they had a membership of just 50 kids. Now they have 430 kids, and have completely outgrown the school.
Draft concept of the permanent Boys & Girls Club to be built in Calistoga.
The Boys & Girls Club has property for the facility secured, an architect on board, and will soon be hiring a general contractor to build the 14,000 square foot building. They hope to break ground in June of 2016, and have the facility open for kids and the community by Labor Day of 2017.
Sometimes in life, you just get lucky. For V. Sattui Winery and many other Napa Valley wineries, 2012 is a truly exceptional vintage.
“We knew in early spring we were looking at a very good vintage,” says Brooks Painter, Head of Winemaking for V. Sattui Winery. “As the season progressed, with phenomenal weather that allowed fruit to ripen evenly and completely, we realized that we were actually experiencing one of those ‘perfect’ vintages—long and cool, and with the best fruit we’ve seen in a long time.”
Wine writer Robert Parker agrees that both the 2012 and 2013 vintages from Napa Valley are special.
“The biggest problem in Napa Valley (unlike Bordeaux or other areas where Cabernet Sauvignon is grown) is that Napa can have very damaging and stressful heat spikes well over 100 degrees F that can last from three days to as long as a week,” says Parker. “The negative results can cause grapes to raisin, threatening dehydration and inflicting stress on the delicate health of the vines. This never occurred in 2012 or in 2013. Grapes, much like people, mature and flourish under ideal conditions, and both vintages provided that.”
We have just released three of our five 2012 single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. In general, they are wines with well-structured tannins, rich concentration, and developed aromatics that define the vintage. Most of the fruit was picked at ideal ripeness before rain fell in late October, making coordination of the avalanche of grapes arriving in the winery one of the greatest challenges of the harvest. It is a great vintage from both a growing and volume perspective; we had fantastic yields of some fantastic wines. This is truly a classic vintage.
From Robert Whitley, Wine Review Online: “V. Sattui's 2012 Mount Veeder Cabernet is a classic Napa Valley mountain red, a rich, powerful Cabernet Sauvignon with broad shoulders and impressive dimension. This vintage shows rich black fruits, chewy tannins and a generous dollop of oak that matches the heft of the wine. A panel of advanced and master sommeliers at the 7th annual Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition loved it and awarded it Platinum and a score of 94 points.”
From Rich Cook, Wine Review Online: “The juggernaut that is V. Sattui Winery continues to roll out spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon from this vineyard. The nose is extremely deep and complex, with solid varietal character, firm tannic structure, lively acidity and a long finish that is currently emphasizing elegant red fruit and spice. This deserves five to ten years additional bottle aging to bring out all of its charms, though they are already many.”
From Robert Whitley, Wine Review Online: “With soft, supple tannins and a juicy blackberry and blueberry core, this is a delightful Cabernet Sauvignon that can be enjoyed now while you wait for some of the more muscular Napa Valley Cabs from this outstanding vintage.
2012 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
A Platinum Award winner at the 2015 Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition
From Rich Cook, Wine Review Online: “A favorite vineyard source of mine, and thankfully, also a favorite of some great winemakers. Brooks Painter and his crew always bring out all that Morisoli has to offer, and in this vintage it's lively raspberry fruit, joined perfectly by pie spice, mild dried herbs, cedar and cigar. It's got a big structured backbone that begs further aging while providing great delight at present. Decant, or go long? You win either way. “