John Taylor
 
December 26, 2020 | John Taylor

Food & Wine Tips For A Festive New Years Day Brunch

We are full of enthusiasm and excitement for 2021! Our plan is to kick off New Years Day with the first epic brunch of the year. To start the day, we'll take a brisk walk in the morning to get motivated and think about what the perfect kickoff brunch of 2021 will look like!

At Cultivar SF, our San Francisco restaurant, we're big fans of brunch, so we'd love to share with you some of our favorite dishes to help get your creative juices flowing. As the name suggests, brunch is like a combination of breakfast and lunch, using a mixture of ingredients we traditionally associate with one or the other. We look at brunch as a combination of light & heavy and sweet & savory. It doesn't have to be super fancy: a Farmers Market Omelette and Applewood-Smoked Bacon with Challuah French Toast is the perfect example of something simple you can make at home. 

But wait - every good brunch starts with Bellinis or mimosas! We love a delicious, seasonal Pomegranate Mimosa like the one pictured above, but we think our new Sparkling Wine makes an amazing Pear Mimosa. Just add 3/4-cup pear nectar to 1 bottle Cultivar Wine's Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine and you have a slightly-sweet, delicious spin on the mimosa. And who can say no to the classic Peach Bellini? We like to make a peach puree by scratch simply peel & pit your peaches, toss them in a blender and blend until smooth (at this time of year you can use frozen peach slices) and add the chilled puree to our Sparkling Wine.

Here's another example of how simple can blend with imaginative. A classic plate of Fried Eggs, Bacon and Rustic Bread paired with Polenta, Poached Egg and Shrimp. And if you're looking for a brunch entree that warm you up and fill you up at the same time, try a Croque Madame or Huevos Rancheros. Pair that with a bottle of 2019 Cultivar Wine Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and you're on your way to one happy 2021!

Pasta is also a perfect dish for brunch. It's filling, it's easy and above all, it's versatile. Try a simple angel hair tossed with roma tomatoes, Caspar Estate Olive Oil, basil, capers and top it with shaved Parmesean cheese. If you're feeling more daring, try something like this Wild Mushroom Raviloi we created at Cultivar SF. Pasta is also a perfect dish to serve for your friends who love a lighter red wine, like our Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir or even our Oak Knoll Cabernet Franc.

And don't forget the salad! Salads can even be the main course in a brunch. We think a great salad should be inspired by the seasonal fruits and vegetables available in your area. One of our favorites is this Pomegranate and Persimmon Salad with Avocado and Bleu Cheese. Mix greens, goat cheese, candied walnuts and champagne vinagrette. Candied walnuts give it an added touch of sweetness, and our 2018 Cultivar Oak Knoll Chardonnay compliments all the flavors at once.

We'd like to wish everyone a safe and happy 2021, and we hope that the New Year brings you fun, travel and more days spent with the ones you love!

Time Posted: Dec 26, 2020 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Food & Wine Tips For A Festive New Years Day Brunch Permalink
John Taylor
 
December 3, 2020 | John Taylor

Food & Wine For The Holidays: Our Best Red Meat & Red Wine Pairings

Food & Wine For The Holidays: Our Best Red Meat & Red Wine Pairings

It’s a pairing as traditional as the Holidays: red meat and red wine. During the season, this classic combination is celebrated as friends and family gather to create feasts from time-honored family recipes: traditional dishes like Standing Rib Roast au Jus, Prime Rib, Lamb Chops Provencal and Slow-Smoked Tri Tip.

As a family-owned winery, we’re thankful to have our wines be a part of these meals. And as a Napa-based winery, we’re blessed to be able to grow some of the finest cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and cabernet franc in the world. Here are our recommendations for red meat and red wine pairings that will make your Holiday dinners memorable and delicious.

Red Wine and Rib Roast and Prime Rib

Nothing quite says Christmas Dinner like a classic Standing Rib Roast aus Jus. Whether you go bone-in or bone-out, rib roast is one of the most tender and flavorful cuts you can cook. For this rich meal, we recommend our 2016 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, Leaky Lake Vineyard, Napa Valley. Grown just up the hill from Caspar Estate, it is perhaps our boldest cabernet, with a long, lingering finish and tannins that compliment prime rib.

And speaking of Caspar Estate, Christmas is a great time to go all-out on our Estate wines. The 2018 Caspar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a stellar pairing with prime rib and rib roast. This wine is sold only by allocation - if you’d like to get on the list, click here.

Finally, another great pairing with a rib roast is our 2018 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa Valley. Though still young, it’s powerful yet balanced - it has all the structure of a classic Napa cabernet, but perhaps a little more refinement than the Leaky Lake. 

Red Wine and Lamb

Another traditional Holiday staple, lamb is a meat with delicious versatility but certainty more subtlety than a rib roast. Our favorite pairing with lamb is our 2018 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Franc, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley. With its fruit-forward profile, bright acid and soft tannins, it pairs beautifully with any style, from Mustard-Crusted Lamb Chops to Rosemary Leg of Lamb. 

If you’re as much a fan of 100% cabernet franc as we are, get on the allocation list for the Caspar Estate Cabernet Franc. We recently opened the cellar and re-released the 2014 vintage of this spectacular wine to our wine club!

Of course, fans of cabernet will tell you lamb pairs wonderfully with a good cab. We suggest our 2018 Cultivar Wine Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa County. Perhaps the softest of our cabernets, it won’t overwhelm your more delicate lamb entrees.

Red Wine and Tri Tip

The tri-tip is a cut that was born in our home state of California, where butchers in Santa Maria (along the central coast) carved this 5-pound cut from the subprimal sirloin. The tri-tip has since gained popularity nationwide. You can prepare it seared for a few minutes on each side, then into a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes for medium-rare perfection. Or you may prefer it smoked for about 6 hours.

If you need the perfect pairing with a smokey meat, you can’t go wrong with a wine like our 2019 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. Pinot’s have an inherent earthiness that brings out the flavor of smoked meats. Some might think that a pinot noir isn’t bold enough to stand up to a fatty sirloin cut like a tri-tip, but the cold, moist air blown in from the sea near Santa Lucia (on the central coast of California, by the way) creates a pinot noir that’s both lucious and powerful.

If you’re grilling that tri-tip instead, pair it with the Cultivar Wine 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. This vintage falls right in the middle between our most subtle and most bold cabernets.

Gift Boxes for The Holidays

If you’re looking for these wines or perhaps some white wines for your Holiday meals and to give as gifts, we invite you to shop our Holiday Gift Collection at our Online Store. Whether you’re looking for the perfect selection for the wine lover in your family or for delightful stocking stuffers, we have a little something for everybody. If you want to take advantage of our flat rate ground shipping, please order by December 15th. For last minute gift selections, we offer 2-Day shipping for orders placed by December 20th. We can also offer Cultivar Wine Gift Cards in a variety of denominations that you can send or download anytime online! 

Whether you’re enjoying the Holidays with your whole family, or you find yourself keeping the party more intimate this year, all of here at Cultivar Wine & Caspar Estate wish you and yours a joyous Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year!

 

Time Posted: Dec 3, 2020 at 12:42 PM Permalink to Food & Wine For The Holidays: Our Best Red Meat & Red Wine Pairings Permalink
Eden Hensley
 
November 17, 2020 | Eden Hensley

The Perfect Brisket (And Wine) For A Perfect Chanukah

 

Holiday gatherings this year are going to be a little different especially depending on where you live. We’re in San Francisco, and since March 2020 we’ve been sheltering in place. With a vaccine for COVID-19 still under development, we’ll be celebrating Chanukah with just our immediate family. And we’ll be enjoying a mouthwatering brisket that’s perfectly sized for our family of 3. 

There are tons of recipes for entertaining hordes on the Internet. Few explain how one might make a brisket for themselves and their partner. This recipe is for an intimate Chanukah dinner—a couple, two roommates, a parent and a teen, a parent and two littles.

This recipe is the result of years of research, experimentation, and troubleshooting. So, rather than simply modifying another recipe - a hit or miss proposition at best - give this stress-free recipe a try.

Four Tips for a Mouthwatering Brisket

I’ve found there are four things that increase your odds of serving a mouthwatering meal your family will reminisce fondly about for years to come...and none of them involve browning your brisket before tossing it into the slow cooker. Browning your brisket won’t save your meal if you make one of the following rookie errors:

1. Don’t even proceed with this recipe if your well-meaning butcher trims the fat off your brisket. (It won’t work so don’t even try it; make a lovey beef stew instead.

2. If you can’t find brisket, don’t blindly toss a different cut of meat into your slow cooker. Brisket is the toughest of cuts, so the length of time in the slow cooker is too long for other more expensive cuts like Prime Rib.

3. Cooking on HIGH for half the time will not save you from poor time management skills or lack of planning. Wake up early if you want to eat it the same day you make it; start it the night before to rest when you rise and finish in the oven later; or just make it the day before, let it rest overnight, and finish in the morning.

4. Make sure you have the same size brisket as the recipe. Your liquid-to-meat ratio as well as cooking time won’t be the same if you’re using more or less than 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds of beef brisket. Also, you need one cut that’s 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds. If your portion is less than a pound, chop up and make beef stew.

And now...the recipe!

 

The Ultimate Brisket

This slow cooker recipe doesn’t require you to use your oven or stovetop. You’ll chop your vegetables and toss them, the brisket, and sauces into your slow cooker and basically forget it for a few hours.

Note: Because you’ll flip the brisket halfway through the cooking process, this isn’t a good recipe to start before you go to bed. If you’re planning on eating Chanukah dinner earlier in the day, you can leave it to cook overnight, just flip the brisket in the morning and cook on slow for an additional hour.

Before you start assembling ingredients, we need to chat about cooking with wine. To save money you may be tempted to select a bottle of “cooking wine” from your grocery aisle. Don’t do that. My cousin, a chef, chastised me for doing this years ago. “If you wouldn’t drink a wine, you shouldn’t cook with it.”

Now, this doesn’t mean if you’re serving an expensive bottle that you need to use it for cooking. He recommends choosing the same varietal of wine or in a pinch same color. We enjoyed our brisket with 2016 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Leaky Lake Vineyard ($98) and added Merlot to our brisket in the slow cooker.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

3 yellow gold potatoes, quartered
A bunch of baby carrots, cut in thirds
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pound beef brisket, flat cut
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon soy or tamari sauce
1 1/2 cups beef or mushroom broth
1/2 cup Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon (if you don’t have wine, substitute with broth)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pepper
Salt
1 large yellow or red onion, sliced in half moons
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

Instructions (cooking time: 8-9 hours)

  • Add your potatoes and carrots to your 6.5 Quart Slow Cooker first.
  • Next place your brisket, fat side up, on top of your potatoes and carrots.
  • Pour Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, broth, and wine into your slow cooker.
  • Sprinkle your garlic, pepper, and salt on top of your brisket.
  • Arrange your onions to the side of your brisket.
  • Add your mushrooms on top of everything and close the lid of your slow cooker.
  • Cook on LOW for 8 hours, flipping halfway through cooking time. If you need to cook overnight, flip the brisket when you wake up and cook on LOW for one more hour.
  • Using two turners (tongs will shred your meat), transfer the brisket and vegetables to a 9x13” baking dish, cover tightly with foil, and refrigerate overnight.
  • Transfer the broth to a quart container and refrigerate.
  • About an hour before dinner, preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Let baking dish with brisket and vegetables come to room temperature. Pour 1/2 pint of reserved broth over the brisket and vegetables.
  • Reheat for 30 to 40 minutes at 300 before serving.

Wine Pairing

Red wine lovers will rejoice when you bring out this brisket. Because of the subtle flavors in this dish, you can easily serve it with Pinot Noir, a well-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon, or even a Merlot.

What’s your favorite: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot?

Which of the three reds you pair your Chanukah brisket with will come down to personal tastes (and your side dishes). For me, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy screams Pinot Noir. My husband is partial to Cabernets with beef, so I swapped the mashed potatoes with latkes and delicata squash. We chose the 2016 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Leaky Lake Vineyard over the 2018 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County to avoid having tannins overwhelm the apple sauce and squash. Don’t fret: the 2018 Cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County had its moment in the spotlight when we served our Vegetarian Harvest meal (coming to the blog soon).

Eden Hensley Silverstein is a third-generation Californian, who has been feeding her family, friends, and soon-to-be friends around her kitchen table since she was in third grade. Along with her husband, 8.5 year old daughter, and Maine Coon/Ragamuffin rescue cat, she makes 849 sq ft a welcoming home in The Mission. They share recipes and misadventures on The Road to the Good Life.

Time Posted: Nov 17, 2020 at 2:25 PM Permalink to The Perfect Brisket (And Wine) For A Perfect Chanukah Permalink
John Taylor
 
November 13, 2020 | John Taylor

Julien Fayard and The Art of Caspar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

What does it take to produce a truly world class Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon? First of all, it takes fruit: grapes grown in that special region that winds around only 2% of the earth's surface and includes the Napa Valley. But just as important, it takes the expert touch of a master winemaker, someone who can combine artistry, chemistry and a little bit of magic into their craft. For Caspar Estate, that winemaker is Julien Fayard.

Julien is a firm believer that the wine is made in the vineyard. He frequently walks the vineyards and checking on the fruit. Our vineyards have several microclimates because of the row layout and the pockets of the hills and valleys. Julien is very selective, starting with the fruit that is ripe - it can be mid row but often it starts at the end of the row on the western side since it gets the most late afternoon sunlight.

On September 23rd, 2020, Julien supervised the harvest of several tons of our estate cabernet sauvignon, grown on slopes located above the Rutherford Bench in Napa. It was a gorgeous day, producing equally gorgeous fruit. 

The fruit was quickly transported to Fayard Winemaking, Julien's custom winemaking facility at the south end of the valley. This is where the first, critical steps of the process will occur, though as Julien says, it's not the most important part: "Winemaking begins in the vineyard." Julien’s wines are a pure expression of Caspar Estate terroir, highlighting the characteristics of the fruit, vineyard management, soil and climate.