One of the events we really look forward to here at Cultivar Wine is our quarterly happy hour with Wine Club Members. We love gathering over great food to talk wine and catch up with new and old friends alike.
This month we're especially excited to be introducing our wine club members to Polk Street's newest restaurant, Reverb Kitchen & Bar. We think Reverb's innovative comfort food crafted from locally sourced, sustainable, and peak-season ingredients is the perfect complement for our wines.
Cultivar Wine Club Members will enjoy tasting our selections for our May Wine Club shipment which include 2011 Cultivar Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Cultivar Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and two of our newest releases: 2012 Cultivar Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc.
Will you be joining us?
Fans of fashion flocked to the Legion of Honor Wednesday March 11th, 2015 for the opening celebration of High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection.
“Dazzle” was the theme and fans turned out in glamorous fashion for the collection’s unveiling during a black-tie dinner for supporters hosted by the FAM Board President Dede Wilsey.
Cultivar was happy to support the museum donating wines to pair with the sophisticated three course menu. We paired our 2013 Cultivar Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc with the first course Celery Root, Truffle, and Leek Potage.
For the main course of Filet aux Morilles we chose our 2012 Cultivar Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The sweet tannins and refined structure of the wine pulled out the morels in the sauce and complimented the cream sauce.
Guests finished the meal with a Black and White Duo: Chocolate Pot de Crème, Vanilla Bean Pot de Crème, and Santa Cruz Strawberries.
The collection is on view at the Legion of Honor through July 19th and shouldn’t be missed. Curated by Jan Glier Reeder, consulting curator for the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and organized by the Met, High Style captures key points in 20th-century fashion design with rare pieces from French couture houses, including examples by Jeanne Lanvin, Elsa Schiaparelli, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, and Hubert de Givenchy. Get your tickets today.
On March 5th, Cultivar Wine proudly partnered with San Francisco Magazine and Saks Fifth Avenue for the Saks Fifth Avenue Men of Style event. VIP guests enjoyed our 2013 Cultivar Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc that we donated
while enjoying passed appetizers and waiting in suspense as to who would be the 2015 Man of Style and which charity would receive a $5,000 donation.
San Francisco Magazine readers and fans of Saks Fifth Avenue and Cultivar Wine had a tough job, choosing between the 2015 Men of Style nominees:
All nominees were well deserving, but there could be just one 2015 Men of Style winner.
Congratulations Geoffrey De Sousa and Ronald McDonald House at Stanford! Not only did Ronald McDonald House receive the $5,000 award, but Geoffrey generously matched the award with a $5,000 donation of his own.
Photography Credits: The third and fifth photos were taken by Rachel Bussières for Drew Altizer Photography and used with permission. The other photos were taken by Cultivar.
Seafood and steak is a classic match. But when it comes to a wine that works for both you might find yourself scratching your head. Here’s the secret for ensuring wine connoisseurs as well as both beef and seafood lovers are satisfied:
Choose a wine that pairs with one of the proteins and a sauce for the other protein.
In February, Chef Jeffrey Jake of Silverado Resort and Spa paired two entrees with three of our Cabernet Sauvignons: 2011 Cultivar Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2010 Caspar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
With these entrees you’re not matching the wine to both of the proteins. The Braised Shortribs are a strong, classic pairing for Cabernet Sauvignon. So, the secret to the pairing for the seared tuna must lie with the sauce. Cabernet Sauvignon does pair with Tuna seasoned with black pepper, but not as strongly as the sauce: a Piperade stew.
Remember when pairing at home to focus on your main aromas and flavors. With the Tuna, the piperade stew, which is made with bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions, is a stronger flavor than the Tuna.
Want to serve Piperade in your house? Try Martha Stewart’s Piperade recipe. If using a different Piperade recipe, take care not to let the heat of the chilis dominate, as the spice accentuates the tannins. The recipe from Martha Stewart is made without chili peppers.
Nothing says Spring more than a Rose inspired by the Rivera. And we’re excited to announce our latest 2014 Cultivar Napa Valley Rose release, perfect to enjoy by itself, as a start to your springtime gatherings, or as the star of light meals.
For our 2014 release, we blended Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc. Its pale pink, copper color catches your eye. Strawberry and cranberry aromas with hints of floral notes entice your nose. Then once you sip, tantalize your palate with cranberry and tart cherry fruit with spice and floral notes. Enjoy this bright and refreshing wine chilled.
If you’re planning on serving Cultivar Wine for your Passover or Easter gatherings, be sure to get your orders in before Sunday, March 28th, weather permitting.
The secret to pairing a Rose is knowing how sweet it is. Unlike our 2013, which had a sweet finish, our 2014 release has a tart, dry, mineral finish. Here are three tips that will have your tastebuds singing.
Here’s how two Bay Area chefs paired our 2014 Cultivar Napa Valley Rose.
Chef Jake of Silverado Resort and Spa showcased the flexibility of our 2014 Rose, pairing it with a cornucopia of fresh local vegetables, prosciutto, and a variety of spreads: Black Garlic, Olive Tapenade, Salmon Rillettes, Aioli, and Roasted Pepper.
Impress your family and guests with your own Salmon Rillettes with this recipe from Anna Zepaltas inspired by a dish at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon bistro.
Chef Rosenblum of Causwells took toast, topped it with an herbed goat cheese spread and slice of radish.
If you want to enjoy this pairing yourself, try this radish, green onion, and herbed goat cheese spread recipe from Whole Foods Coop.
Last year we released our first Cultivar Rose--a Rose inspired by those from Southern France and so popular it sold out within months of its release. With its balance and smoothness, perfect alone or paired with a variety of foods, it's easy to see why it's so loved.
The Fifty Best, an award-winning online guide to fine living featuring rated lists and tasting awards based on a panel of wine/spirit professionals and connoisseurs, assembled a panel of 18 pre-qualified judges. The order in which the wines were sampled was determined beforehand by lottery. Each wine was served well chilled and poured into fresh glasses from sealed bottles. Judges award scores between 1 and 5, with 5 as the best and noted their impressions of each wine on score sheets. Scores were tallied and medals awarded.
First some bad news. While we would love for you try our award-winning wine for yourself, we sold out of it in 2014. Now the good news. We just released our 2014 Cultivar Napa Valley Rose, a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, and Sauvignon Blanc. Unlike our 2013 which had a sweet finish, the 2014 release has a tart, dry, mineral finish. Grab your bottles today at $17 or stock up with a cases at $173.40 ($163.20 for Cultivar Wine Club members). You wouldn't want to miss out again!
We are excited to announce our first Napa Valley Chardonnay: our 2013 Oak Knoll District Chardonnay. This Chardonnay is the perfect wine to drink now: on its own, with a light meal, or with your starter course at dinner.
Stock up now to be ready for the Spring weather that’s just around the corner! Bottles are $28 / $22.40 Wine Club and Cases are $285 / $268 Wine Club.
Swirl your Chardonnay to coat the glass and then bring up to your nose. Inhale aromas of baked apples, pear and melon with a hint of spice. Close your eyes and savor the wine as it hits your tongue. Enjoy baked apple, caramel, and a hint of brown butter that ends with a delicate finish. Serve chilled.
The Oak Knoll appellation, located south of Yountville in the heart of Napa Valley is known for a climate that is cooler and more moderate than any region in Napa Valley outside of Carneros. This cooler climate delivers restrained, delicate Chardonnays with the perfect balance of sugar and acid.
One of the most popular and traditional California Chardonnay pairings is with Dungeness Crab or crab cakes. And you won’t go wrong with this match up.
To shake things up a bit and truly delight the taste buds of your guests, pick a few goat cheeses to start your evening: Bucheron, a fresh French goat cheese; Garrotxa, an aged Spanish goat cheese; or mild American goat cheddar. Goat cheese further heightens the fruit in the 2013 Cultivar Oak Knoll District Chardonnay.
Another less common match you should experiment with is sweet corn. For something off the beaten path that our guests may not have enjoyed, match our Chardonnay with either a Corn Chowder or Corn Salsa.
What will you pair your Chardonnay with?
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and you’re being barraged with reminders. Reminders to buy jewelry. Get flowers. Pair chocolate with wine.
Before you rush out and grab your favorite bottle of Cultivar and box of local artisan chocolates or truffles, stop. Not all chocolate and wine is a match made in heaven. (If you’re unsure, finish your wine before sampling your chocolate.)
Between the wine and the chocolate you are looking for a balance of sweetness, fruit, and acidity. To help you achieve this balance, there are a couple of general guidelines to keep in mind.
Truly successful matches go beyond these guidelines.
What are the exact characteristics of a successful match? It depends; it’s a matter of personal taste. Some feel chocolate never pairs with wine. I believe it’s not that straightforward, and matches can only be found through experimentation. When pairing wine with chocolates, I look first to the aromas I’m inhaling when I first raise my glass. Then I think about the nuanced flavors I’m tasting.
Interested in learning more about the art of chocolate and wine pairing? Check out the three-part series on The Nibble: Part 1 – Introduction; Part II – Pairing Chart; and Hosting a Chocolate Tasting Party.
If you want a memorable bite, try one or all of these three pairings.
Rose is the perfect Spring wine. For Valentine’s Day, our 2014 Cultivar Napa Valley Rose is a great way to start your evening, light and crisp with just the right balance of tart cranberry and hint of strawberry.
Why this pairing works: The interplay between cranberry and strawberry notes is why our 2014 Cultivar Napa Valley Rose pairs with a Peanut Butter and Strawberry chocolate. The fresh strawberry jam in the chocolate brings the strawberry notes of the wine to center stage while the creamy peanut butter softens the sweetness of the milk chocolate with its saltiness for a soft finish.
Our 2013 Cultivar Napa Valley Rose (currently only available in keg), on the other hand, which is sweeter than our 2014 vintage, paired with a Candy Cane chocolate. This unusual pairing worked because organic candy canes were crushed into Strauss cream, organic butter, and white chocolate. The peppermint accented the strawberry notes while the cream coated the mouth and balanced the wine’s crisp finish.
A wine for scotch drinkers is how our 2013 Cultivar Oak Knoll District Chardonnay has been described. This characteristic is why when chilled you can enjoy with an Old Fashioned Chocolate which is a combination of single barrel bourbon, Fee Brothers bitters, a twist of orange all blended into Solstice Madagascar chocolate.
Why this pairing works: Our 2013 Cultivar Oak Knoll District Chardonnay, fermented in neutral oak barrels, delivers fruit on the nose and hints of baking spices that finishes with caramel and brown butter. These apple, pear, and melon notes in the wine balance the bitters and hint of orange in the chocolate for a richer experience. Where alone the wine has a delicate finish, the single barrel bourbon in the chocolate intensifies the wine’s caramel finish and adds a touch of oakiness.
At first glance, our last pairing looks as if the caramel might be sweeter than the wine. It’s not. Passion fruit is a tad bit sweet and yet also slightly sour. It is this contradiction that makes this match complementing the structure of our 2011 Cultivar Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon.
Why this pairing works: On your inhale, nutmeg and cinnamon tantalize with a hint of mocha and cedar. These aromas scream for caramel and passion fruit. The Passion Fruit caramel combines these flavors into a creamy decadent bite that’s slightly bittersweet. Because the chocolate isn’t overly sweet and the flavors are those present in the 2011 Cultivar Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon you have a match made in heaven.
Which ever way you enjoy your chocolate and your wine--together or separately, have fun this Valentine’s! Jot down notes about what you like as well as what you dislike. Then, the next time you’re standing in front of a chocolate counter pick up a few more to try.
Want to be daring while reducing the likelihood of a mismatch? Check out The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. Simply find the wine you’re trying to match, for example Cabernet Sauvignon, and see what fruit flavors or dessert ingredients work with it, for example strawberries. (If there’s no fruit or dessert ingredient such as butter or cream, start with one of the aromas or one of the flavors on your palette that you experience with the wine.) Then look up strawberries (or the other fruit).
What chocolates do you enjoy with your Cultivar Wine?
We love a good celebration, and just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean the toasting has to stop. Keep the toasting going past the holidays and create a new tradition: a late January tasting party.
And right now is the perfect time to explore three Napa Valley Appellations through a horizontal wine tasting. We have three 2012 Cabernet Sauvignons available: 2012 Cultivar Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2012 Cultivar Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wondering what is a horizontal wine tasting? It’s when you select one varietal for a tasting of the same vintage from different appellations. This is a great introduction to the nuances imparted into the wines by the land.
Before the tasting, decant all of the wines you've chosen. We recommend about an hour to two hours for our St. Helena and Rutherford and just a touch longer for our Howell Mountain.
While the wines are decanting, set out three glasses per person (eighteen for a party of six people) that way everyone can compare the color of the wines as well as the legs before tasting. Be sure to mark the wine glasses ahead of time with color-coordinated Washi tape or letterpress coasters.
Once the wines are decanted, pour at least four ounces of each wine into everyone's glasses. Be careful not to overfill the wine glasses. You want everyone to be able to easily swirl the wine without fear of it splashing out of the glass. Swirling doesn't just look cool. It serves a purpose: swirling releases the aromas and coats the glass with them. Let the wines breathe for a few minutes before inviting guests to begin.
Once your guests are seated and have their wines in front of them it's time to begin tasting. Lead them through the steps for sampling the first wine. The following steps are conveniently included this tasting sheet that you can download and print for your guests.
As the host, you can decide whether you want to share the appellations ahead of time or have your guests guess. Our tasting sheet has general notes for tasting wines on the front and tasting notes for each of our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignons on the back. If your guests are Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon aficionados, testing how well they know their appellations can be fun. Simply print the tasting sheet on two pages and hand out the tasting notes after all guests have noted their picks.
When you first look at your glass note whether the wine is clear and bright. It should be. Is the color light? Medium? or Dark and opaque? Look at the wines next to each other and record any differences you see.
It's often said that you can tell a good wine by the thickness of its legs (the drips or tears that run down the inside of your wine glass after you swirl it). This is a myth, but the legs do reveal properties of your wine. Thick, slow moving legs mean your wine is heavy in alcohol and body. It will probably taste full and very rich. Delicate wines with less alcohol will have harder to see legs.
Swirl each wine and compare the legs of each. Record any differences you see on your tasting sheet.
Swirl your wine to coat your glass with the aromas of your wine and hold up your glass to your nose. You're looking for notes that will reveal where your wine came from. Some appellations are known for sour red-cherry notes where others are known for black currants. With complex wines you may not smell all the nuances in your first whiff.
There are 88 common aromas. On the provided tasting sheet we've identified eight common types of aromas: floral, spicy, fruity, vegetative, nutty, caramelized, woody, and earthy. An aroma wheel may help your guests identify what they're smelling.
Now the part you've been waiting for: the taste! As you sip and swish the wine in your mouth you're looking at its acidity: is it tart or acidic? Is it interesting? If you ponder a wine trying to discern what you're tasting it's a sign of a complex wine.
What's the finish like? Is it long or short? Elegant or harsh. Do you want more after you finish your sip?
Be sure to clear your palate in between each wine. In addition to lots of water, wine crackers are great to have on hand. Because they're flat, they don't impart any flavor to your next taste.
For six people, we like to have three bottles of each of the wines we’re pouring. For a horizontal tasting of all three of our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, that's nine bottles total. This gives everyone enough wine to sample as well as being able to enjoy their preferred wine with the meal.
Remember that you receive 15% off wines when you order 12 or more bottles. So if a horizontal tasting sounds appealing, stock up and take advantage of the savings.
We are excited to announce the availability of our 2012 Cultivar Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, which we bottled this past August. This is our second offering from the Howell Mountain Appellation, one of the first regions in Napa Valley to gain American Viticultural Area (AVA) status.
And right now with the cold, grey weather the Bay Area is experiencing, I’m really enjoying the Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. For me, it’s the perfect wine to curl up with and savor. Why? Because thanks to its balanced acidity and sugar and long finish, the Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is great on its own or with food!
Our winemaster, Julien has advised that the Howell Mountain will age for another 10 years, but I’m having a hard time saving it. Lately, it’s my wine of choice to serve before heading out to dinner or a party.
Our 2012 Cultivar Howell Mountain is beautiful to look at with its rich, dark, smokey purple color. Once you stop staring and bring it up to your nose, you’ll smell cassis, currant, and blackberries. When you taste the wine, your palette is hit with these powerful fruits as well as more subtle notes of cedar and wood smoke and hints of truffles, licorice, and espresso. The distinct long finish and smooth tannins demands a leisurely pace. This is not a wine you want to open if you’re rushed for time. If you’re not already dreaming of mountain cabins and the outdoors, you should be. What I tell my friends is that if they like Mountain fruit they will love this wine as much as I do. One sip and I’m imagining myself seated in front of a roaring fire staring out at snow kissed slopes or fire pit overlooking the ocean.
For best results serve the wine at about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, just below room temperature. Depending where you store your wines, you may need to bring your wine up to temperature. If your wines are stored at room temperature, you may want to tuck them into the refrigerator for about twenty minutes before serving and use an aerator pour spout to decant if having just a glass. Before enjoying I then let them sit for a few minutes to breathe.
To truly appreciate the Howell Mountain you'll want to enjoy it in one of the Riedel wine glasses made specifically for red wine. The shape of the glass allows the wine to breathe. If your wine is below the optimal drinking temperature, you'll be able to use your hands to slowly warm it.
Because the Howell Mountain is so drinkable now and only 148 cases were produced, we expect it to sell out quickly like our first offering did. (We have many Cultivar and Caspar customers who needed to restock or missed out on last year’s offering lined up for this release.) Don’t delay and pick up a few bottles for enjoying today as well as a few for your cellar.
Purchase your Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon now. Bottle $72 / $57.60 Wine Club; Case $734 / $691 Wine Club
The Howell Mountain AVA is located on the Northeast side of the Napa Valley within the Vaca Range near the town of Angwin, overlooking the town of St. Helena. The boundaries of the AVA are dictated by vineyard land located at elevations of at least 1,400 feet. Often you will see photos of the cabernet sauvignon vineyards on Howell Mountain with the fog filling the Napa Valley below.
We were drawn to Howell Mountain for its unique nutrient poor soils, the decomposed volcanic ash called ‘tufa’ and the red clay that is naturally high in iron. The soil types found in the Howell Mountain appellation stress the vines planted there. The result of this stress is that the vines produce lower yields than other appellations. But these lower yields have fruit that is consistently intense in flavor with balanced acidity and sugar and a unique minerality from the volcanic ash.
Prior to Prohibition in the United States, Howell Mountain was best known for its Zinfandel. Now the slopes of Howell Mountain are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. When you try our 2012 Cultivar Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon we’re sure you’ll see why we chose grapes from Howell Mountain and why we can’t wait to share our wine.
Because of the fruit’s balanced acid and sugar, you may be tempted to drink it now. (Be sure to stock up so that you have some left in your cellar to enjoy as the wine ages.)
The 2012 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is best paired with juicy steaks and hearty stews. For the holidays, it is the perfect complement to your standing rib roast.