What better way to spend a Saturday than being surrounded by our wine club members and friends enjoying delicious food and drinking fabulous Cultivar wines? And a couple of Saturdays ago, that's exactly what we did!
After a quick headcount, we left overcast San Francisco in search of the sun, which we found just on the north side of the Rainbow Tunnel in Marin County. While on the bus, guests enjoyed our 2013 Cultivar Napa Valley Rose (currently sold out in bottles, but still available in kegs).
At Balboa Cafe, situated in downtown historic Mill Valley, we introduced our September 2014 wine club selections. There on the outside patio while sampling our wines, we enjoyed light bites styled by executive chef, Rick Edge, and live music by Tom Rhodes.
The light bites provided by PlumpJack Catering that we enjoyed were:
To learn more about the pairings, some classic and some others daring, check out our Food Pairings for Our September 2014 Wine Club Selections where we break the matches down for you.
Be sure to check out our Facebook page for more photos from the event. Also, if you'd like to hear about further upcoming events in San Francisco and Wine Country, be sure to like our page. In addition to news about events, you'll get behind the scenes peeks into how we make our wines along with recipes and pairing tips for entertaining in your home.
When it comes to pairing wines with food there are two options: classic or unexpected. To showcase our wines and give you ideas for what to serve with your wines, executive chef of Balboa Cafe Mill Valley, Rick Edge, prepared four appetizers for us to nosh on at our September Balboa & Cultivar Wine Club Bus Party.
The wines Chef Rick was matching with the perfect appetizer were one of our vineyard designate wines, 2011 Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and three of our appellation wines: 2013 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Cultivar St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2011 Cultivar Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon.
Chef Rick prepared four dishes for six pairings. Here are the flavors to look for when planning your own dinner. Where a pairing is daring, we included some tips to ensure a perfect match.
Tomatoes and Sauvignon Blanc: a classic pairing. When you think gazpacho you're probably imagining a soup dripping with acidity. Not so with this refreshing shooter. Guests reached for taste after taste enchanted by its rich unctuousness. The smooth creaminess of this shrimp gazpacho amplified the richness of our 2013 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc, blinding one to any other pairing for the Sauvignon Blanc.
Caramelized Onion and Carmody Cheese Skewers with Sherry Vinegar Glaze & Piment d'Espelette
At first glance you may wonder how a dish can be paired with both a red and a white wine. The key lies in the balance of peppery, sweet, and creamy components. The green citric notes of our 2013 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc balance the heat in the Piment d'Espelette, a variety of chile pepper cultivated in Southern France, and the tartness of the sherry vinegar glaze. The rich sweetness of the caramelized onions and the buttery flavor of the Carmody cheese soften the tannins found in our 2011 Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
When trying this pairing at home be sparing with the glaze. Too much of the sherry vinegar and your tastebuds will shrink in horror effectively stealing the thunder from either the Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc or the Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, a travesty as both of these wines otherwise have a lengthy finish that deserves center stage.
Who says you can't have chicken with red wine? Successful pairings are made with sauces and this match is no different. Our 2011 Cultivar Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon brings earthy notes reminiscent of some Pinot Noir that complement the arugula pesto, offsetting its peppery nature with the sweetness of Bing Cherry and plums.
The meatballs, because they are made with chicken, have a more delicate flavor than their beef and pork counterparts. So, if it takes you a couple of bites to finish your meatball, you may not have any of the pesto left for your pairing. Not to fear! Try a sip of either our Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon or St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, cabernets less earthy than the Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon with smooth finishes that complements rather than overpowers the chicken.
You can never go wrong pairing beef with a Cabernet Sauvignon. What makes some matches more memorable than others are the toppings. With the selection of cheddar over a blue cheese the 2012 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon was a solid choice. If you prefer the earthiness of a blue cheese over a cheddar, you want a wine that's more of a meal by itself. Think of it like a boxing match, it's more interesting when both fighters are the same weight class. If a heavyweight and a featherweight are in the ring together it won't be as exciting. With its earthiness, the Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon is the heavyweight while the St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon is a featherweight. Had the slider been topped with Blue Cheese instead of cheddar the St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon would have been down for the count.
We have two brand new releases going out in this month’s wine club shipment that we think you’re going to enjoy. If you’re not in our wine club, now is the time to join because we have some great wines to share with you... just in time for those cooler nights when red wine sounds oh so right.
First, our 2012 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon. This is our first release from the St. Helena appellation, where the temperatures run about 4 to 5 degrees warmer than in Napa. This rise in temperature results in wine with richer, more concentrated flavors. Ours has wonderful aromas of cassis, plum and vanilla with beautiful yet subtle floral notes. On the palate, ripe fruit flavors are balanced with great tannins. This wine will age well for 7 to 10 years and will go perfectly with a delicious grilled steak.
Also a new release is our 2011 Leaky Lake Cabernet. The grapes for this wine grow in the Leaky Lake Vineyard, located on top of the Mayacamas Mountain Range. Bright red in color, this wine has incredibly enticing aromas of wild blueberries and cherries that seem to leap from the glass, followed by notes of spice, pepper, cedar and mocha. The palate reveals fruit-forward characteristics with dark cherry fruit flavors, smooth tannins and a lengthy finish. Decanting allows the wine’s complex flavors to shine now, but it will also age gracefully for the next 2 to 7 years.
Good news - our next ‘Cultivar Wine Club & Friends’ event is scheduled for September! We’ve joined forces with our friends at Balboa Cafe to host an event you won’t want to miss. There will be wine, there will be food, there will be live music AND there will be a bus to transport you to all the fun! We’ll start at Balboa in San Francisco then head over to Balboa Mill Valley for wine, live music and food, then back to the Marina.
Details below. Be sure to RSVP by Sept 10th to reserve your spot. Space is limited!
For those of you who made it to our ‘Cultivar Wine Club & Friends’ happy hour event last week, I’m sure you can agree that it was a fun evening of wine, food and great conversation. More photos from the Mikkeller Bar are below, along with what we served to pair with our wines on tap. See which wines worked with certain menu items and why!
Even if you didn’t make it, you can still grab a bottle of your favorite Cultivar wine and test out your own food and wine pairings. You never know what perfect pairing you might find. And be sure to look out for details on our next event later this week on the blog.
Endive Cups with pine nuts, blue cheese and apples
Salt Cod Croquets with dill, parsley and lemon garnish
Why it worked: Sauv Blanc is a light-to-medium bodied white with green and citrusy notes. A natural pairing for salads, herbs (like dill and parsley) as well as lemony flavors, it also goes well with oily foods (like the herb/oil marinated olives). Yum!
2013 Rosé -
Salt Cod Croquets with dill, parsley and lemon garnish
Lil’ Smokies wrapped in bacon with Smoky BBQ
Why it worked: Rosé is one of those awesome wines that work with a lot of foods. Ours is crisp, minerally and delicate enough to pair with light foods yet big enough in body to withstand bolder foods like bacon and fried food. A tiny hint of sweetness helps cut through the smoky flavors of the bacon and bbq sauce as well as the saltiness of the cod.
Lil’ Smokies wrapped in bacon with Smoky BBQ
Why it worked: Cab Franc and pork work well together, because both are more medium in weight (as opposed to a hefty Cab paired with a giant steak). Our 2012 Cab Franc has notes of pepper, tobacco and spice, which complemented the smoked, spicy flavors of the Lil’ Smokies.
Pork & Garlic sausage in puff pastry
Why it worked: Full-bodied and big on tannins, Cabernet can withstand bigger, fattier meats and sausages. The rich pastry and garlic-y pork sausage seemed to pair nicely with our rich and structured Cabernet. With wines big on tannins, it’s best to avoid spicy foods - so the Lil’ Smokies would work with the Cab if you omitted the spicy BBQ sauce.
Did you miss our fun Cultivar-sponsored happy hour event last week? Taking place in the ‘cellar’ of Mikkeller in San Francisco, our totally awesome events director, Emily, planned a great evening of wine, delectable bites and mingling with Cultivar friends and family. Mikkeller is actually known for their beer (42 beers on tap), but that didn’t stop about 35 fabulous local wine club members from enjoying Cultivar wine on tap, delicious wine pairings, and the great vibe.
We even held a drawing to win two Double Magnums of Cultivar Cabernet - that’s 3 litres! Congratulations to our winners:
Maria Sullivan Hemphill
If you missed it, don’t worry… we’re planning at least 2-3 more events this year, so be on the lookout for those invites. More to come on the wines served as well as food pairings, but here are a few photos from the event in the meantime. Salud!
Happy Hour Event - Mikkeller Bar
Double Magnums up for grabs!
Cultivar Wine on Tap
Choosing the Double Magnum winners...
Winner chosen! Happy Eden!
It’s been a busy couple of weeks around the winery. We’re getting ready for a fun wine and food happy hour event in San Francisco AND we’ve been bottling new vintages of your favorite wines. It wouldn't be summer if we weren't a little busy, right? All fun things, though.
Just recently, we spent the day bottling the 2012 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon - 148 cases to be exact! If you were fortunate to try the 2011 vintage, you’ll know that this best selling wine is known for its big, elegant tannins and ripe plum and spicy black currant flavors. We have no doubts that our 2012 will be just as delicious, if not better!
Check out the photos from bottling day.
Bottles going through the machine.
It’s already August (where does the time go?!) but that doesn’t mean we’re not taking full advantage of summer and celebrating all the good things that are happening around us …like sunshine, picnics, bottling, and celebrating exciting Cultivar news!
The Fifty Best recently held a blind tasting of Napa Valley Cabernets in the $25-$55 price range. We’re happy to share that our 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet took home a silver medal in this “Best Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon” competition!
The Fifty Best is an award-winning online guide to fine living, featuring rated lists and tasting awards based on a panel of wine/spirit professionals and connoisseurs. For this competition, a panel of 16 pre-qualified judges tasted the 27 contending wines and evaluated each individually using a 1-5 point scoring system, with 5 being the most satisfactory. Medals were awarded based on a set range of final point scores, and we’re thrilled that our NV Cab was so well-received!
Have you tried our 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet yet? It has the chops to stand up to pricier $50 bottles but is in a much more affordable price bracket (at $28, it’s a steal for California Cabernets). The grapes were sourced from St. Helena, Howell Mountain and Rutherford sub-appellations, which are all high-quality regions (and 2012 just so happened to be a fantastic harvest!). The wine was aged for 12 months in oak, resulting in an incredibly aromatic and bright wine, with sweet tannins and refined structure. A touch of new oak comes through on the nose with hints of vanilla and warm spices, complemented by dark fruit, violets and tobacco. On the palate, the wine is rich with ripe dark cherry and plum, rounded out with an elegant finish with a touch of herbaceousness. A great addition to your wine collection - at a fantastic price! Cheers.
You've heard of beer in kegs, but have you heard of the newer trend of wine in kegs? Wines on tap seem to be popping up in wine bars all over the nation, but is this a trend that will last? I bet so. Cultivar has actually been producing several varietals in kegs since its start, as the wines were originally targeted for by-the-glass programs in restaurants and bars. A keg of wine actually holds 26 ½ bottles - more than two cases! - think of how many bottles of wine are saved right there. And, since the kegs are reusable, they’re cost effective and ‘green,’ creating less waste. Just like wineries are tending to gravitate toward screw caps to eliminate cork taint or oxidation, kegs preserve the wine, allowing consumers to get a better glass of wine at a restaurant every time (no 3 day old opened bottle for you!).
Of course, making wine for a steel keg will change the way a wine is made in most cases. Wine on tap is designed to be consumed within roughly 90 days of being ‘packaged,’ so the winemaker may produce the wine with more fruit-forward characteristics and less structure (aka less tannins since the wines will not be aged).
So which wines can you find of Cultivar’s on tap? The 2013 Rosé, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2011 and 2012 Napa Cabernet! I recently enjoyed the Sauv Blanc on tap at a wine bar in Southern California… refreshing and perfect for summer!
Don’t you think it’s time to forget the beers on tap and head straight for a freshly poured glass of wine? I'm in! Cheers.
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Hello! Welcome to the Cultivar Winery Blog. Here, we'll be sharing winery news, new releases, tips and whatever else we feel like sharing. And what better time to start this than in Spring!
Here at Cultivar, we're gearing up for warmer weather by celebrating a few new wines perfect for Spring and Summer sipping, like our 2013 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc and our 2013 Rosé. Made of a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet, our 2013 Rosé takes inspiration from the pale pink, delicate rosés of Southern France. With appealing strawberry, spice and floral aromas on the nose, you'll love the minerally strawberry and cranberry flavors that are rounded out by a crisp, long finish. Sounds like a perfect wine for light summer fare, doesn't it? From salads, fruit, cheese and even roasted chicken, it's the perfect accompaniment to any meal when the sun in shining.
Our May wine club shipment is about to go out, and rumor has it that you'll get a bottle of our newly released Rosé in your order. You might want to think about stocking up on this wine since we only made 112 cases, and at $17 per bottle, you have no excuse not to! Personally, I plan to stock up on a few bottles for impromtu picnics in the park or just for popping open to enjoy out on my balcony while taking in the sunshine. Ahh.... don't you just love Spring!