I've spent a few years around various farms and ranches in Montana and Washington State working with livestock and performing various farming duties and I’ve had the opportunity to dine on some very good steak. I’ve been a real fan of steak ever since and so I was very excited to meet the folks at Best Filet Mignon and taste their product, paired with our Il Barone Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, of course. You can read about our meeting here, but let’s talk about the NY Strip steaks.
Just when I thought I had tasted the finest filet mignon ever, our friends at Best Filet Mignon sent me a package of their NY Strip steaks and I didn’t waste any time organizing a party and then heading to the grill. The steak was cooked to perfection which was great, but now all my friends have very high expectations when they come for dinner!
Sent overnight in an elegant shipping box, the NY Strip steaks, in their vacuum sealed pouch were very fresh, just like the filet mignon steaks I tasted earlier. Their steak is USDA prime and no hormones or antibiotics are ever used in the diet of their cattle.
What really impressed me was that Executive Chef, Phil Horn of Best Filet Mignon included a great recipe which I followed. Here it is. Follow every step and you won’t be disappointed.
Roasted Garlic Dijon Mashed Potatoes
2 3/4 pounds medium-size Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered
4 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (or more) whole milk
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Placed peeled garlic cloves in small piece of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, pinch of salt, close and place in 425 degree oven for 40-50 minutes.
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 25 minutes.
Return potatoes to pot. Add butter, roasted garlic cloves and mash potatoes until almost smooth.
Mix in 2/3 cup milk and Dijon mustard.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Parmesan Tomato Crisps
6 cups thinly sliced beefsteak tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Gently drizzle and toss the sliced tomatoes in the olive oil to coat slices.
Place slices without overlapping onto dehydrator shelves or a baking pan.
If you are baking preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients.
Sprinkle mixture over each slice.
Depending on how thick the slices of tomato are, dehydrating could take anywhere from 12-24 hours.
If baking check every 30 minutes until edges show some charring, could take 2-3 hours.
To order these delicious NY Strip Steaks from Best Filet Mignon, head to their website Normally, Best Filet Mignon offers their 8 pack of 10 oz. NY Strip steaks for $289, but for a limited time, friends of Castello di Amorosa will receive $100 off which includes free FedEx overnight shipping. Simply enter the code “cdany” at checkout.
And if that’s not enough, you should know that BestFiletMignon.com is more than Filet Mignon. If you need guidance, ideas, or culinary advice, call the chef on his personal cell at 310-729-3264 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for more recipes from Chef Phil and wine pairing ideas from Castello di Amorosa.
In our previous blog post, I described how we met some new friends. Here is a continuation of that post:
“I’ve got the Filet Mignon if you’ll bring the wine,” said Ed Diaz, the CEO at Best Filet Mignon. Now I was curious so I asked him where should we meet to which he replied, “I’m coming to see you at the Castello… are you available on October 21st around 11:00 a.m.?” I said heck yes and we set the date.
What I did not know was that Ed loves a good road trip. He packed up the car and picked up his Executive Chef, Phil Horn and they left Los Angeles at 4:00 a.m. on October 21, tweeting (@TheBestSteaks) along the way.
Tweet from Ed Diaz in the wee morning hours of October 21. Only 299 more miles to go!
They arrived right on time and as they walked up the steps of the Drawbridge, their eyes were wide open and filled with amazement. We toured the Castello and got to know each other. We headed to the wine fermentation room and then to the cellars.
Phil Horn, Executive Chef of Best Filet Mignon in the Grand Barrel Room at the Castello.
Ed and Phil came prepared with their Filet Mignon so I invited Georg Salzner, our President to join us for an epic tasting of Filet Mignon; prepared and cooked by Phil and paired with our 2011 Il Barone.
Preparing the Filet Mignon for the grill.
A 6 oz. cut of Filet Mignon ready for the grill.
Georg Salzner and Ed Diaz dining at the Castello.
I must say, the Filet Mignon was simply the finest cut of meat that I've ever tasted and the pairing with Il Barone was nothing short of spectacular. The flavors of the Cabernet Sauvignon framed by the lightly toasted oak and gentle acidity wine met the savory, succulent flavors of this steak. You owe it to yourself to experience this extraordinary steak as we did.
Ed and Phil want you to experience this wonderful food and wine tasting experience so they created a special offer exclusively for friends of Castello di Amorosa.
And as we promised, check out this video by Best Filet Mignon that pairs Il Barone with Filet Mignon (and wonderful side dishes). You'll learn how to make the perfect meal, without fail, everytime. Here it is:
Click on the logo below to see a special offer from Best Filet Mignon, available exclusively for friends of Castello di Amorosa.
Meet Best Filet Mignon's Executive Chef, Phil Horn
"Whether you are an aficionado or a quality flavor-craver, the king of steaks is the filet mignon because of its decadently rich, smooth, mild flavor and super savory, buttery texture. As a lifetime beef enthusiast, I love my filet mignon with nothing added (i.e. bacon, etc) and I love how it pairs with fine wine.
What you serve alongside filet mignon is what enhances the delights that your palate will experience upon tasting and ultimately bring out the earthy notes of the meat. For example, I really enjoy pan-roasted carrots in a butter sauce along with savory mashed potatoes.
Il Barone paired with a nice cut of beef from Best Filet Mignon
When it comes to pairing a wine for this dish, I recommend a wine that compliments filet mignon's more subtle flavors. Wines with dark fruit, elegant balance, and structure seem to work best. That said, I strongly recommend Cabernet Sauvignon, and particularly the Il Barone 2012 from Castello di Amorosa grown in California’s Napa Valley.
Filet mignon with sauted mushrooms and onions
The ripe, refined tannins framed in the generous body of the wine coupled with its hints of tobacco serve as a complement to the dish, without overpowering the flavor of the meat. This provides a wonderful balance due to the wine’s acidity and alcohol levels. Whatever is chosen to serve alongside the dish guarantees a simple, elegant, and delicious dining experience for your guests.”
Mary Davidek gives us a primer on Cabernet Sauvignon:
“Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world's most widely grown and recognized red wine grapes,” said Mary Davidek. ”Cab is grown in every major wine producing region covering a diverse spectrum of climates from Canada's Okanagan Valley to Lebanon's Beqaa Valley. However, with a near perfect Mediterranean climate combined with rich soil ranging from rocky to alluvial--Cabernet Sauvignon reigns as Napa Valley’s king of grapes.
A Cabernet Sauvignon block 7 at the Castello
Mary Davidek, sommelier
Cabernet Sauvignon is an interesting study—thick skin, small, tightly clustered, darkly pigmented purple-black berries. Cabernet also has a higher ratio of skin and seeds (tannins) to pulp (juice) which contributes to the wine's aging potential and typically leads to oft used descriptors; i.e. big, intense, bold....
Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerful wine and can be quite tannic when young, just the qualities to make it an ideal match for foods that are rich and packed with flavor. Cabernet Sauvignon tends to pair best with meat dishes as fats and proteins tend to soften the tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon.
It does not take a connoisseur to savor the sheer bliss of Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a char-grilled Filet Mignon. When showcasing a special bottle, remember, keep it simple. Cab + a great steak = pairing perfection!”
It does not take a connoisseur to savor the sheer bliss of Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a char-grilled Filet Mignon. When showcasing a special bottle, remember, keep it simple. Cab + a great steak = pairing perfection!”
Stay tuned to this blog as www.BestFiletMignon.com will soon be delivering cooking videos exclusively to Castello di Amorosa subscribers that will teach you how to make easy, impressive meals that pair wonderfully with our wines. Can you guess which wine they’ll be pouring first?
The 2015 Harvest season is in full swing here at the Castello, and on Saturday, September 21st we celebrated our newest arriving vintage with our 8th Annual Harvest Celebration and Grape Stomp Competition! Wine Club members and their guests enjoyed delicious food paired with Castello wines, live music in the courtyard, winemaking demonstrations in our fermentation rooms, and of course, our annual Grape Stomp Competition! Check out our photos of the evening below:
Our enthusiastic Grapes were a hit with our guests!
Guests were able to sample freshly fermenting Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Malbec in the Red Wine Fermentation Room
The calm before the storm on the Crush Pad...
Team #6 cheering on their bottle filler to the finish line!
Congratulations to Team #1, our First Place Stompers!
Thank you to everyone who attended this great event! We hope you had a "grape" time!
I was raised in a large and lively household. With 2 parents, 4 of us kids along with 1 grandparent, my mother was faced with the daunting challenge every week to procure economical yet delicious ways to feed our sometimes demanding and always hungry mob. Schedules were constantly changing, I had piano lessons and swimming, my brothers balanced after school jobs and sports. In the summer, Dad often worked late. This meant not only did food have to be delicious and economical, but had to be just as good and easily re-heated to accommodate our unpredictable schedules.
Sunday night pasta was a regular on our menu. Essentially left over tidbits from the week slow cooked in a rich tomato sauce and served over pasta, a good way to start a busy week. Soups were another yummy option and minestrone often filled the pot. Basic minestrone was a smart use of left-over roast beef with an assortment of veggies and pasta. Frittata was a popular catch-all in our house and seemed to be a Friday night staple. The saying became TGIFrittata!
Frittata is a flat Italian-style omelet that's usually prepared in a cast-iron skillet. A Frittata can be made with an assortment of ingredients; mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, or zucchini. For a heartier main course preparation, ground sausage, bacon or potatoes can be included. To make a frittata, beaten eggs are cooked briefly in a hot skillet along with other ingredients like onions, spinach, bacon and/or potatoes, and then topped with cheese and finished in the oven.
The Castello provided the bounty for this frittata. The royal chickens supplied the organic free range eggs. From the castle garden; zucchini, red and yellow pepper and serrano chili peppers.
The kick of spice made the wine selection for this brunch easy—Gioia, a dry and fruity rosé of Sangiovese.
When cooked in a round skillet, frittata is traditionally sliced into wedge-shaped portions for serving. And re-heated…it was just as yummy as it was just out of the oven.
♦ In medium size bowl, using a fork, blend together 4 - 6 eggs, grated Parmesan, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt.
♦ Heat 12-inch non-stick, oven safe saute pan over medium high heat.
♦ Add butter to pan and melt. Add frittata contents. Pour egg mixture into pan and stir with rubber spatula.
♦ Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the egg mixture has set on the bottom and begins to set up on top.
♦ Sprinkle with parsley and additional grated parm.
♦ Place pan into oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned and fluffy.
Nadine Sierra, one of the most promising emerging talents in the opera world today opened the landmark 10th season at the Napa Valley Festival del Sole on July 17, 2015. Boasting formidable 13th century Tuscan architecture and stunning views of the Napa Valley from it's Diamond Mountain District vineyards, the Napa Valley and Castello di Amorosa was a perfect setting to experience the performing arts, wine, wellness and the culinary delights offered by Festival del Sole, one of the world's premiere cultural events.
Nadine Sierra, one of the most promising emerging talents in the opera world today, performs.
Nadine Sierra celebrates with Jan Schrem, a major benefactor
of Festival del Sole.
Nadine Sierra on stage at the 10th anniversary of Festival del Sole.
An elegant dinner for patrons followed Nadine Sierra's performance in The Grand Barrel Room.
The Russian National Orchestra performes Moscow Nights in the Courtyard featuring world-renowned baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, acclaimed Russian-born baritone, Rodion Pogossov and tenor Daniil Shtoda.
The much-revered coutyard at the Castello was filled with the sounds of the Russian National Orchestra.
Cellist Nina Kotova performs with the Russian National Orchestra.
Herb Alpert was simply magical on the trumpet playing many classic numbers and songs from their latest album, Steppin' Out.
That's Michael Shapiro on drums and percussion and Hussain Jiffry on bass.
Bill Cantos performs with Herb Alpert and Lani Hall.
For more details visit: http://www.festivaldelsole.org
It is well known the health benefits of salmon are seemingly endless. From cardiovascular health to muscle and tissue regeneration, to eye health-- regularly including this meaty fish in our diet even bolsters our metabolism! Additionally, salmon is an excellent source of beneficial fatty acids like omega-3 as well as a good source of vitamins A and D.
Salmon is also exceptionally wine friendly; the chameleon of the sea when looking for the perfect pairing. Salmon works with whites, reds and rosé, so if salmon is on the menu let the cooking method and spices guide your pairings.
In the words of Billy Joel “a bottle of red and a bottle of white, it all depends on your appetite”.
Well, your appetite and perhaps what was in the latest Castello Wine Club shipment!
Chardonnay with Lemon Pepper and Garlic Baked Salmon
With brilliant stone fruit, a hint of creamy citrus (think merengue) and just a breath of fig and hazelnut the 2013 Bien Nacido Chardonnay is the perfect canvas for this salmon preparation. Keep the sides fresh and vibrant like this hash of sweet corn and edamame. Liberally season the fish with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on a non-stick baking sheet or in a non-stick pan. Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes at 450 degree oven.
Sangiovese with Cajun Spiced Salmon
Salmon is a hearty meaty fish with high fat content (the good fats!) so it can play with high acid, high clarity varietals like Sangiovese. For the seasoning I used a Cajun spice rub but added additional garlic and black pepper. I wanted the spice to bring zing and pizzazz with our latest Sangiovese release. The 2012 Sangiovese shows vibrant notes of ripe red raspberry, rhubarb and trademark anise. It is a mid-palate explosion of delicious and perfect with the rich spiced salmon
Pinot Noir with Ginger, Soy, and Balsamic Grilled Salmon
A simple soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger marinade, with a dash of lemon and garlic, are the perfect salty-sweet complement to rich salmon fillets. Evocative Asian notes of ginger and soy are classic flavors for Pinot Noir pairing and the smoky grill perfectly accentuates this earthy wine. Newly released 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir has just a touch of exotic spice but the palate showstopper is the obvious grace and elegance iconic to cool climate Pinot Noir.
Admittedly, I have been remiss in my food and wine blogging; although I have been writing (daily), thinking (constantly says this insomniac), photographing (my nemesis, just putting it out there) all while enjoying amazing meals and drinking ridiculous wine. Ridiculous meaning copious amounts of delicious, of course. I have been taking pictures and eventually it all comes down to….just do it. The following are a few images (be kind) and I will keep it going through the season of summer ramblings.
I encourage you to email your ramblings--inspirational recipe ideas along with pictures of friends and food with Castello di Amorosa wine to email@example.com
Fresh halibut fish tacos with watermelon salsa and tequila lime crema. Halibut courtesy of top angler and Napa native Tim Berg of Peninsula Processing (http://www.great-alaska-seafood.com/)
As we wait for summer’s tomato harvest this cool and refreshing Watermelon Salsa is super tasty and perfect to top any grilled white fish:
- 3 cups diced seedless watermelon
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, (approx. 1/2 bunch)
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup minced red onion (1/2 small)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
This was the final road trip for our 2011 Sangiovese. Paired with halibut and exotic mushroom and shallot risotto. This wine was ideal for the rich creamy risotto and earthy mushrooms.
In nearby Calistoga, Sam’s Social Club at the newly renovated Indian Springs Resort has become a popular dining spot for up-valley residents. Pictured is seared Foie Gras paired with a classic 1989 sauternes. Next time I am bringing Il Passito Reserve Late Harvest Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc, as Sam’s never charges a corkage fee! Castello di Amorosa’s Il Passito is made with classic sauternes wine-making techniques. Extended French oak fermentation delivers not only an extremely age worthy wine but provides layers of complexity and unctuous mouthfeel.
Caprese salad with grilled shrimp and scallops turns a starter salad into a delicious entrée.
Because it is good to be king! King Crab Legs, yum!
And finally, enjoy your summer of food and wine ramblings with amazing friends!
Winemakers weigh countless factors and make innumerable decisions every day for months on end to create a single vintage of a single wine, and, as you know, at Castello di Amorosa we make much more than a single wine. We will continue to monitor each wine, and make slight adjustments, up until the day it is bottled. Once the wine is in the bottle, that’s it; that blend had better be right because there is no going back. Bottling can be a bit stressful because of that finality. Yet, it is also a relief. So many things can go wrong in winemaking (not to mention the vineyard!). The entire winemaking and cellar team have to look out for each and every barrel at the Castello. Even one bad barrel, left unchecked, could wreck an otherwise outstanding blend. Oxidation, bacterial spoilage, leaking barrels… when that cork goes in all of those worries go away.
Cleaning French oak barrels on the Crush Pad. The final blends are created in the stainless steel tanks behind before being sent to the bottling line.
Bottling has to be perfect. It is just as true for delicate white wine like Pinot Grigio that will be consumed young as it is for our reserve Il Barone Cabernet Sauvignon that we hope will stand up to decades of cellaring. This is the main reason Dario decided to purchase the Castello bottling line; many wineries as small as us do not own their own lines. They either bring in a mobile bottling line (truck and trailer) or ship the wine offsite for bottling. Having your own equipment is very expensive to start with, and then you need to have staff that knows the intricacies of your machines and also staff to perform the non-stop Quality Control checks. The benefit, however, is so great that Dario did not hesitate when making this investment.
We hand wax each bottle of our Il Barone and La Castellana Reserve wines to give it a traditional look and create a tamper-proof seal.
Here at the Castello we have complete control over our wines. Though most of our bottling happens in the summer before the Harvest, we bottle something nearly every month of the year, in small batches, ensuring that each individual wine is bottled when it is ready. Not sooner, when a wine might be underdeveloped and not fully expressive, and not later, when a wine might become “tired” before it even gets in a bottle. This type of flexibility in scheduling is simply not possible without bottling your wine on-site with your own bottling line and staff.
Empty bottles waiting their turn to be filled with the newest vintage
The Castello di Amorosa bottling line has a special type of bottle filler called a counter-pressure filler. This type of filler is commonly used at modern breweries to fill beer bottles, but seldom seen at wineries. The reason for this is that beer is even more susceptible to spoilage than wine is, and it is extremely sensitive to oxygen exposure. The counter-pressure style filler is unmatched in its ability to prevent oxygen from getting in to the product while also maintaining a sterile bottling environment. It also came with a steep price tag (much more than a traditional filler), but if you know Dario, you know that he is willing make just about any investment to support wine quality. This type of bottling line also offers another benefit: the Castello di Amorosa famous dessert wine La Fantasia. The unusually high level of “spritz” in that wine makes it impossible to bottle with a traditional wine bottle filler. The Castle just would not be the same without La Fantasia!
La Fantasia fresh off the bottling line!
While bottling there are a number of Quality Control checks that the Castello staff monitors: temperature of the wine, dissolved oxygen, fill level, vacuum of the corker, label placement… You really do have to pay close attention, as you only get once chance to get it right. After bottling we perform our own in-house microbiological plating of the wines to make sure there was no contamination. Once we see those results, we can finally stop holding our breath and appreciate all of the work that went in to each and every bottle of wine. If bottling goes smoothly and stays on schedule, we might even get a little time off before the next Harvest starts!
Winemaker, Castello di Amorosa
It has often been said that if Cabernet Sauvignon is king here in Napa Valley, then Chardonnay is queen. Chardonnay has reigned supreme among white wine grapes in California since the Judgment of Paris in 1976, when Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay trumped the French competition in a blind tasting and helped to put Napa Valley on the map of world-renowned winegrowing regions. Today, there are over 100,000 acres of Chardonnay vineyards planted throughout California, and the varietal remains one of the top white wines consumed by Americans each year.
One of the reasons for Chardonnay’s popularity is the wide variety of styles it can be crafted in, based on where the grapes came from and how the wine was aged. While the majority of Chardonnays are aged in oak barrels, unoaked Chardonnays are rapidly increasing in popularity due to their brighter, fruitier notes, and both aging styles offer a wide range of complexity in the finished wines.
Chardonnay at the Castello
Here at the Castello, we produce two Chardonnays every year from two select cool climate vineyards in California. Our Napa Valley Chardonnay fruit comes from own estate vineyard in the Los Carneros AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the southern end of the Napa Valley, which is meticulously tended to by our Vineyard Manager, David Bejar, who has worked with Dario Sattui and our winemaking team for the past 17 years. Our Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay comes from the iconic family owned vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara County, along the Central California Coast. In using these two cool climate vineyards to produce our Chardonnays, we hope to showcase the unique terroir of each region while utilizing both traditional and innovative winemaking techniques.
Our Bien Nacido Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay
All of our Chardonnay is harvested at night in order for the fruit to arrive at the Castello cold, which preserves the its delicate aromatics and natural acidity. Once the fruit gets to the winery, the whole grape clusters are placed into our two pneumatic, or “bladder” presses, which gently presses the juice from the skins and seeds. The juice is then pumped into Burgundian French oak barrels, where it ages for 8-10 months. We use 50% new and 50% second use French oak barrels on our oak-aged Chardonnays, which provides a balance between showcasing the terroir of the vineyard, acidity and fruit characteristics of the varietal, and the subtle notes of toast and spices that come from each individual barrel.
Two of our clear-headed oak barrels, which show the wine aging on the lees
After the wine has undergone primary fermentation, which converts the sugars in the juice into alcohol, our winemaking team then selects a specific number of barrels to undergo malolactic, or secondary fermentation. Here, the malic acid in the juice is converted into lactic acid, which gives Chardonnay its signature creamy mouthfeel (think “lactose” like milk). Roughly 40-60% of our Chardonnay barrels undergo malolactic fermentation, depending on the characteristics of the vintage and the acidity levels of each blend.
La Rocca Chardonnay – A new twist on a classic wine
If you have visited the Castello on a guided tour, you may have noticed our concrete fermentation eggs in the Grand Barrel Room, our 12,000 sq ft cross vaulted room three levels underground. We have been using these concrete eggs for the past several years to craft select single vineyard white wines like our Ferrington Vineyard Dry Gewurztraminer and Tyla’s Point Pinot Bianco, and beginning with the 2013 vintage we are also fermenting and aging a select amount of our Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay in one of these eggs. We have named this unique, limited-release wine “La Rocca,” which means “The Fortress” in Italian. The egg shape allows for a natural suspension of the lees (sediment) compared to aging in traditional stainless steel tanks, without imparting any flavors or aromas found in oak barrel aging, and the higher acidity and tropical fruit characteristics of the Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay made this fruit a perfect choice for aging in these unique vessels.
Cellar Master JoseMaria Delgado sampling our Napa Valley and La Rocca Chardonnays at The Grand Barrel Party
We are excited to make two Chardonnays from this historic vineyard in both French oak and concrete, as these two differing styles help to show the versatility of the varietal as well as the vineyard. Our 2013 La Rocca Chardonnay from Bien Nacido Vineyard will be released later this year, and we are looking forward to showing off the versatility of this beautiful Burgundian grape with our trio of California Chardonnays!