On a beautiful Saturday in January, Alex and Justine came to V. Sattui Winery with their dog, Trixie. Alex had told Justine that he wanted to enjoy a “family day,” just the three of them.
But Alex had something up his sleeve.
With nothing planned beforehand, Alex and Justine came to the winery, did a tasting, signed up for our Wine Club and talked with everyone that walked by (because their dog is just that adorable). As Alex checked out, he asked the cashier if there was a quiet spot he could propose to his girlfriend. Well, Alex asked the right person, because it just so happened that Tom Davies, President and Co-Owner of V. Sattui, (and - shall we divulge - hopeless romantic?) was behind the cashier desk that day.
Tom had just the spot – our private Gold Room, an intimate room where stone cubbies are filled with dusty bottles of our older vintage wines and old wooden crates holding the biggest of bottles -the Nebuchadnezzar - lay. Always one to go above and beyond for our customers, Tom went on a quick mission – grabbing a bottle of our Prestige Cuvée sparkling wine, two flutes and a chiller and candles.
By the time they entered the private Gold Room, Justine may have had an idea of what was going on…
The happy(ily engaged) couple
Alex and Justine met in college in 2007 at a birthday party for a mutual friend.
The first meeting
Alex was a Cal student athlete (Go Bears!) and played for the baseball team. Justine being a huge fan of baseball, Alex certainly did not escape her notice when he walked into the room. After spending the greater part of the night in the other’s company, they kept in contact over the next few months.
That Valentine’s Day, they went out to dinner (Olive Garden - life is hard with a student's budget!) and to make the relationship official, Justine presented Alex with personalized M&Ms that read “Will you be my BF?”
After Alex’s initial shock wore off (your first experience with personalized M&Ms is pretty incredible) he said of course- and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
Officially boyfriend and girlfriend (2008) - my, how time flies!
Seven years (and several visits to V. Sattui) later, Alex and Justine have settled in Napa. Alex works for NorCal CrossFit and is very involved in all of the CrossFit games. Justine is a 6th grade teacher at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Napa. Some of her family lives in town as well, and she and he enjoy being closer to them.
One day after the proposal in our Gold Room, Justine called the Winery and asked that we host their wedding, too. Of course, we couldn't be more thrilled! In the next two parts of the series, join them on their wedding journey as they pick out the menu, nail down the details and finally – tie the knot!
In the meantime, check out these beautiful photographs (and meet the adorable Trixie!) from their engagement shoot in San Francisco, shot by the truly talented husband and wife team at jcpagephotography.com
Engagement shoot photos courtesy of the talented duo at jcpagephotography.com
Don't you just love love?
She’s the one who loves you unconditionally. She cooked for you, cleaned up your messes, took care of you when you were sick. Listened while you carried on ad nauseam. Now, she’s one of your best friends and it’s time to do something nice for her.
May we suggest an Italian-style brunch? Made by you (with help from us of course!), and not some generic dish thrown together by a chef in a kitchen who is slammed on one of the busiest restaurant days of the year. You pick out the ingredients, you put in the work, make it with love, and you reap the rewards of knowing you’ve done something really special for the woman who changed your diapers.
Start with the right wine. Our 2012 Cuvée Rouge is a bubbly, easy-to-drink sparkler perfect for beginning her day. She will delight in the beautiful vibrant pink color when you pour it into her champagne flute (yes—you need to do it right, and break out the fancy flutes!).
Next, get ready to serve Mom a yummy, hearty breakfast made with great, fresh, local ingredients. The Frittata recipe below is a gift from Stefano Masanti, a Michelin Star Chef from the Italian Alps who happens to be a friend of ours. Currently he is spending his off-season at V. Sattui, enjoying the abundant produce available in our area, cooking food at our winery and sharing fantastic recipes like this one.
The spices and saltiness in the Italian sausage and the richness of the eggs are a nice foil to the fruity flavors of the Cuvée Rouge. Also, the Frittata could be made ahead of time - right before she arrives. Serve it at room temperature with a fruit or green salad.
We hope you’ll spend time with your Mom on Mother’s Day, or whenever it works for both of you. Enjoy her. Listen to her. Woo her.
She’s worth it!
Serves 4 people
½ pound Salsiccia sausage, or substitute sweet Italian sausage
1 baked and mashed russet potato
16 asparagus spears, blanched, cut in 1/2” pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons V. Sattui Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or other high quality Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Slice sausage links to the size of small coins. Heat a 10-inch frying pan, or cast iron skillet (a pan that can go into the oven) until hot and grill the sausage slices on each side until brown. Remove from hot pan and drain on a paper towel.
In a large bowl, wisk the eggs until fluffy. Add the potatoes, asparagus, and the cooked sausage. Season with salt and pepper and stir the mixture to combine and evenly distribute the ingredients.
Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in the pan you cooked the sausages in. Add the frittata mixture and cook in the oven for 8 minutes or until the eggs are set. Let the frittata cool for 2 minutes, then cut into slices and serve.
Happy Earth Day! Although it is a nationally recognized day for celebrating “green” practices, at V. Sattui we focus on this every day.
Sustainability has been a core value at V. Sattui since it was founded in 1976. As a California Certified Sustainable winery, V. Sattui's commitment to taking care of the land is present in our winemaking practices from the soil, to the vine, and to the bottle.
The viticulture team is constantly evaluating the environmental impact of our farming practices. Certified through the Fish-Friendly Farming program, V. Sattui introduces beneficial predators and organisms in the vineyards to reduce the need for use of damaging pesticides or herbicides, in line with its commitment to preserving natural wildlife habitats. In this very dry chapter of California agriculture, we are also closely monitoring our water use and have tilled many of our cover crops early, so they aren’t competing with vines for water. This dedication extends beyond the winery to a family of private grape growers who tend their vineyards with the same care and concern required to make the distinctive wines for which V. Sattui is known.
This is the original estate vineyard property of V. Sattui Winery, adjacent to the winery itself. It is 34 acres that are planted to seven varieties, most of them Cabernet Sauvignon. As of the 2012 vintage, Vittorio's Vineyard is USDA Certified Organic, and so our Vittorio's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which will be released later this year.
"We've always tried to take a proactive role in preserving the health of the lands we have," explains vineyard consultant Larry Bradley. "Vittorio's Vineyard has actually been organic for the past five seasons, but the process of certification takes a while." What this means is that no chemicals or inorganic fertilizers are used that could leach into the groundwater. "This of course is more costly," says Larry, "but we believe we're doing the right thing and that the resulting wines will be more flavorful."
The spacing between vines in Vittorio’s Vineyard have been planted with all organic cover crops, mostly bell beans and other legumes and grasses. "Green manures," as Larry describes them. "We want lean soils," he says, "and we supplement the weaker areas with fish emulsions and other organic composts."
At just over 2400 feet, Howell Mountain is among the highest vineyards in all of Napa Valley. The unique climate of this vineyard 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 that have inspired a dedicated following from many V. Sattui fans. The Black-Sears family is committed to caring for the land they call home, farming organically and biodynamically in the vineyard and in their orchards and gardens. Wine lovers who have enjoyed the fruit and the wines of the Black-Sears vines will testify: "there's just something special about that vineyard."
We are open all weekend, including Easter Sunday, and it’s going to be a blast! Beautiful grounds, great wine, what more could you ask for??
After you take your Easter goodies home (read: your wine), you may get hit with a sudden panicked feeling of: “Uh-oh. Now what do I pair this with?” Because let’s be honest here, you were in it for the wine, in the moment, and you weren’t thinking about the future, about how civilized people don’t just take down bottles of wine without some manner of food involved… Ahh, the pressures of a civilized world.
V. Sattui has got your back. Just use our handy-dandy guide and you will be on your way to Easter salvation!
Did you buy bubbles?
Maybe a little 2011 Prestige Cuvee? This will go great with Easter brunch – think eggs benedict – the rich butter notes in hollandaise and meatiness of the ham are foiled nicely by the light crispness of this wine.
Peeps are another great pairing with sparkling.
Did somebody say Riesling?
Riesling goes with EVERYTHING. I can’t say this enough. If you bought Riesling, you are the Easter winner! (No, you don’t get anything, sorry. How about a cyberhug!? Yea!) A sweeter Riesling - Anderson Valley and Off-Dry Riesling - will go with the spicier dishes (Sriracha deviled eggs, anyone?) where our Easter feature, the Dancing Egg Riesling, with its crisp palate and refreshing flavors with be a nice contrast to a richer dish, like a vegetable curry.
Zins are forgiven on Easter!
As luck would have it, Zinfandel’s full-bodied flavors and pinch of spice stand up nicely to a roasted rack of lamb. Try our 2012 Pilgrim Zinfandel – it’s jammy, pepper-accented blackberry flavors are decadently delicious.
And remember - dont forget the eggs...
We are ecstatic after receiving news this week from the Monterey International Wine Competition! Our 2012 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon was chosen as Wine of the Year! With a 98 point rating, this award leads a long procession of great accolades for our wines that we're excited to share with you.
Won Wine of the Year and Best Cabernet Sauvignon
"Deep aromas of blackberry, cassis, bay leaf and brown spice prepare you for a mouth filling, structured glass that shows supple mountain tannins, serving to translate the aromas directly to palate flavors. This wine is fabulous right now and will bring even greater rewards 10 years down the road."
- Rich Cook, March 10, 2015
Platinum Award winner
"A very attractive bouquet of cherry, raspberry, rhubarb, hibiscus and baking spice preps you for a bright mouthful of red fruit and spice, delivered over singing acidity that extends the finish and waters your mouth for the next sip…or bite. Beautifully elegant Pinot Noir from my favorite area for the grape."
- Rich Cook, March 10, 2015
Platinum Award winner
"Here is a deeply aromatic Merlot that will win some fans back to the variety after years of abuse in California. Blackberry, black cherry, tobacco leaf and dried herbs are present on the nose and in the mouth, with supple tannic structure boding well for a long life ahead, and extending the finish of this classic California Merlot. Serve this with a seared spiced rib roast -- they're meant for each other."
- Rich Cook, March 10, 2015
Platinum Award winner
"Classic, full bodied Napa Cabernet that doesn't go to the overripe side, but remains complex, balanced and food friendly. There's great depth of aroma and flavor here, with blackberry, black currants, vanilla, bay leaf and brown spice all riding together over fine grained tannins through a long finish that brings a pleasant cocoa note forward. Fantastic!"
- Rich Cook, March 17, 2015
If you just can't wait for the wines noted above to be released later this year, be sure to get your hands on more of our wines that the judges loved – like our 2011 Preston Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which earned a 96 point rating at the San Diego International Wine Competition this past January. We also did very well in this competition, as Robert Whitley notes:
"V. Sattui of the Napa Valley was the overall leader in medals with 18, including Best of Class Cabernet Sauvignon for the 2011 V. Sattui Cabernet Sauvignon, Preston Vineyard, $55. Judges gave the Preston Vineyard Cabernet a score of 96 points. V. Sattui also won 10 gold medals. The venerable winery, with the finest picnic grounds in the Napa Valley, is unique in that it only sells its wines at the winery or online."
Won Best Cabernet Sauvignon and a Platinum Medal
"Here’s yet another complex, layered, classically-styled wine that belies the prediction that the cool, wet 2011 growing season would spell disaster for Cabernet in California. The aromas are wonderfully expressive, with leafy, herbal notes that recall Bordeaux more than Napa, though that’s hardly a knock on the wine. The fruit notes recall blackberry and black raspberry, with excellent freshness and lift from bright acidity, but also plenty of bass notes to balance out all that treble. I love the energy and freshness of this wine, which also packs enough punch to satisfy on that basis as well."
- Michael Franz, January 27, 2015
Winter and early spring are a busy time in the V. Sattui vineyards! Brooks Painter, our Director of Winemaking, and his crew have been busy; pruning, trellising, and tilling mustard into the ground so the grapes can get the nutrients from this vetch. In this video, Brooks give us a close-up view of the work that’s going on in the vineyards.
For the first time, V. Sattui Winery is participating in Premiere Napa Valley, the second biggest week in the local wine industry each year, (Auction Napa Valley would be the first). Premiere is a wine auction for the trade that is hosted by the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV). Winemakers are asked to create a special wine for this auction that will help boost the reputation of Napa wines, and raise money for NVV’s programs to keep the integrity of Napa Valley’s reputation and its wines.
The wine we have crafted for our debut to this event is a tribute to the Morisoli Brothers, two local 4th generation grape growers with a dedication to growing the finest grapes in the Napa Valley. The wine is called Two X Two (or Two by Two), Rutherford Dust-Up Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a 50-50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Gary and Mike Morisoli, and it is the first time their prized grapes have been blended into one wine.
Gary and Mike’s vineyards are located in the heart of the famous “Rutherford Bench", an area considered the “Rodeo Drive” of vineyards. Famous neighbors include vineyards for Scarecrow, Rubicon Estates, and Phelps’ Manley Lane. The Rutherford Bench is a highly coveted area for growing grapes, due to the “Rutherford Dust” phenomenon that can be distinguished in the wine, and the reason for the name of this exclusive offering. The “Dust” refers to the wines having “dusty” tannins, dry cocoa or cigar box flavors. These elusive flavors are unique to the benchland and can’t be found anywhere else.
There is a 16-year age difference between Gary and Mike Morisoli, and while blood links them as brothers, they each have followed their own path.
“We’ve always had our own separate things,” says Mike, the younger brother. “We don’t want to step on each others’ toes. And we’ve just always sent our grapes to separate producers. But it’s nice to have the Morisoli legacy continue and pull it all together in this wine blend.”
During the week Mike is also a geotechnical engineer and a partner in a company he joined 23 years ago. But growing grapes is in his blood. He grew up watching his father, and big brother, doing the work and he naturally followed suit.
“I have such interest and passion for grape growing. You get to live in a vineyard, I’m out producing something that is mine, and at the end of the day, you have something tangible- a really great wine.”
Gary Morisoli has a reputation for a meticulously kept crop with consistent flavor and quality. His hands-on education for grape growing came from working alongside his father and grandfather. His grandfather was born on the property in 1902, and the family had 10 acres. Currently Gary owns 53 acres, and he humbly says he’s got the “easy” time.
“When my grandfather was doing things they worked with horses ploughing fields, and spent long days doing all the work themselves. Today I have people to help do the work, and I just supervise.”
In the Two x Two Morisoli Brothers Rutherford Dust-up Cabernet, the brothers set aside their friendly rivalry for growing the best grapes, and bring their fruit together in a first-time single effort. Both vineyards are located in the Rutherford Bench, west of Highway 29, and shadowed from the harsh afternoon sun by the imposing silhouette of Mount St. John. The gravelly soil and slightly downward sloping land makes for wonderful drainage, never allowing the grapes to become too over-saturated. Both vineyards are off of Niebaum Lane.
V. Sattui’s Director of Winemaking, Brooks Painter, says “this wine is incredibly inky and dark, with a bouquet of cigar box, hints of cedary spice and perfumed dried flowers. It is a rich wine with opulent fruit persistence in the mid-palate. The aftertaste is a black berry, black currant flavor with Cassis and spice that linger. The Cabernet Sauvignon blend leaves a lasting impression of pure cabernet flavor with dusty and earthy nuances.”
Our Two X Two, Rutherford Dust-Up Cabernet Sauvignon will go up for auction at Premiere Napa Valley Saturday, February 21st. Attendees to the event include wine shop owners, restaurateurs, and other wine trade. We’ll update you on the winning bidder, and let you know if you might be able to purchase and taste the wine for yourself!
Our winemakers at V. Sattui are always looking for new and innovative ways to make wine. Our latest release has hatched a cult following of folks who like crisp, refreshing flavors and are lured to the glass by the floral aromas. The 2013 Dancing Egg is a dry Riesling made from grapes that have been fermented in both a concrete egg, and stainless steel barrels.
Winemaker Laura Orozco is at the top of the pecking order for this wine. She has worked at V. Sattui since 2006, starting out as enolgist in the lab and quickly working up to Winemaker, and her vision for this dry Riesling was to make it in an old-world style with a contemporary twist. She has accomplished this not only with the wine, but with the fun label too.
“I wanted an old-fashioned style label to help the wine stand out on our shelves,” says Laura. “I worked with our label designer, Michelle LeBlanc, and when she showed me the “Humpty Dumpty” character I wasn’t expecting it, but I fell in love with it. Maybe because I’m the mom of two young girls and the nursery character just spoke to me!”
While egg-shaped tanks are a new tool in the “winemaking tool belt”, concrete tanks have been used in winemaking for centuries. Concrete is porous, so the tanks can breathe, like barrels, but without adding any oak character to the wine. The egg shape plays a role creating a natural stirring effect during fermentation. So the yeast in the wine is twirling and dancing while inside the egg. The concrete also adds some minerality and complexity to the wine.
Our concrete egg on our production pad, next to its more well-known cousins, stainless steel and oak.
“The egg gives roundess to the wine,” says Laura. “We still ferment some of the fruit for the blend in a stainless barrel which helps it keep the bright fruit flavors. When the two are combined it results in a beautiful wine that is aromatic and fruity, but when you sip it, it finishes clean and crisp. It’s not too dry, and it’s not too sweet.”
Serve Dancing Egg as an apéritif before your next celebration, or pair it with sushi, grilled fish, or a fresh goat cheese and crackers.
Sometimes things come along that are new and exciting. And sometimes, they also happen to be decidedly, and unapologetically, delicious. Like our newly released, 2012 vintage GSM blend called “Entanglement.” (A new release, by the way, is a wine we have NEVER made before. A new vintage is the newly released year [a.k.a. vintage] of a wine we have previously made.)
GSM stands for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. No, it has nothing to do with MSG. And no, it is not a GMS, though you may hear the letters SGM when someone refers to a blend from Down Under, as they like Syrah-heavy blends (or “Shiraz,” as they say – same grape, different name). A GSM blend is nothing new. It has been the happening blend in the Rhône region for years (read: over a century). You may have heard the name of one of the most famous examples: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the AOCs in the Rhône well-known for its beautiful examples of GSM blends. The great thing about blends is that each grape brings its own special something to the party – and when they get down – we all win.
Party down, people, party down
Grenache. In Spanish, this grape is known as "Garnacha". When I was pouring wine in the Tasting Room, a customer once told me that the phrase “a la garnacha” in Central America means “to beat” or “violently.” He said it refers to the way the sun beats down on the grapes there, slapping the back of one hand against the palm of the other for emphasis. Grenache does love hot, dry-climate areas.
Grenache is bringing… fruit, alcohol and a hint of spice.
Syrah. Probably the most well-known of the three grapes to the average American consumer, Syrahs are some of the darkest, fullest-bodied wines out there. I’m talking fuller than a Cab. Oh yeah, baby, pour me a Syrah any day. This big, bad grape loves a long, cold soak after being picked; this soak helps to reduce some of the harsh tannin found in the grape.
Syrah is bringing… structure and boldness with dark fruit and earth.
Mourvèdre. It is quite possible you may not have heard of this one. It is actually referred as “estrangle-chien” in French, which translates to "dog strangler" – lovely, right? It earns this name due to its extremely high tannin content. Because of this (and its rich color) it is often used as a blending grape. If you want to try it as a single-varietal wine, look for a Monastrell from Spain (Mourvèdre & Monastrell – another case of same grape, different name).
Mourvèdre is bringing… tannins and finish.
Right away, this bottle captured my attention. I’m always partial to the soft, sloping shoulder of the Rhône bottle shape. Plus the cartouche (pronounced car-TOOSH) of the raised logo is really – dare I say it?- snazzy. Yes, snazzy. And the name - Entanglement - is just so enticing. I can't wait to get entangled in the wine.
The cartouche on our 2012 Entanglement
And then there’s the wine in the bottle. The first sniff transports you to a briar patch in the redwoods, and the first sip will make you fall in love. Black plum, black cherry and warm rhubarb pie, topped with just the perfect touch of fresh strawberries.
Pairing suggestion: Of course, this is a great wine for a rich meal – think pepper steak, lamb, or bison. Keep it simple and pan sear them before finishing in the oven. The spice in the wine will echo the pepper on the steak and make for a great pairing.
Dark chocolate is another friend to this wine, just stay away from fruit or highly acidic foods.
Questions or comments? Leave 'em below and I'll shoot you an email back!
And always - ENJOY!
On Saturday, January 24th, V. Sattui will host our annual Barrel Tasting & New Release Party. Like all of our events, this party is a lot of fun and offers the chance to enjoy our wines, some great food and wine pairings, and groove to live music. But what makes this party special is the great opportunity guests have to taste wines straight from the barrel and purchase wine Futures from us.
What are Futures?
Definition: Wines still aging in the barrel. Purchasing wine Futures is a practice that has been going for centuries in France, where they call it en primeur. V. Sattui is one of the first Napa Valley wineries to also offer wine futures, and we have been doing so for more than 30 years. Our Barrel Tasting Party is the very first opportunity to taste and purchase the previous year's vintage straight from the barrel. Throughout the remainder of the year, members have the opporutinty to enjoy barrel tasting in our private Cellar Club. Barrel sampling is also offered to non-members by request for $25 per person.
If you’re convinced that a particular wine is destined to be a great one, you may pre-purchase the wine by the case with a 50% deposit, automatically locking in a lower pre-release price.
Why should I buy Futures?
By purchasing the wine early, customers have the opportunity to purchase a wine dramataically below the release price. Once you've purchased Futures, during later visits you may taste your wines as they mature and develop in the barrel. After the wine is bottled, we send notice to you for the balance remaining, and instruction for shipping or pickup.
How to Pick a Winner
When tasting wine from a barrel, remember that the wine is not finished! They are young, a bit wild and unruly; much like a teenager!
It is wise to taste the current vintage of the wine that is already in the bottle, after tasting it's younger version from the barrel, so you can compare the finished wine to the wine in progress. This also gives you a literal taste of wine education as you follow a wine to see how it ages in a barrel and in the bottle. When you purchase futures at V. Sattui we encourage you to return to the tasting room and keep tasting “your wine” as it ages in the barrel over the course of a 2-3 year period.
A Wise Investment
According to InvestorIdeas.com, investors in fine wine can make a healthy profit. However, most of us buy wine futures for pure enjoyment. Purchasing Futures gives you a chance to taste and acquire limited release wines, many of which sell out or are unavailable later. It also offers the opportunity to save money on the wines that you love, since many of them appreciate in price once they are bottled and sold. In addition, V. Sattui club members who purchase wine Futures at our Barrel Tasting Party receive 20% off a case of futures.
Whether you attend our annual Barrel Tasting Party or not, we do hope you’ll explore the world of wine Futures with us. It’s a fun way to learn about wine and to secure some extraordinary wines at a great price. See you in the Cellar Club!