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Mary Davidek
 
November 24, 2012 | Mary Davidek

Left Over---But Not Forgotten

Having a birthday on or near a holiday has its good and bad points. Obviously, friends and family gather to frolic and take part in festive merriment. Unfortunately, said merriment typically has little to do with the birthday and everything to do with the holiday. Me, I share my birthday with a Turkey. November 25th is always crammed with either celebration preparation or post-feast recovery. Every 7th year my birthday is THE day and the turkey proves a formidable rival; pumpkin pie with birthday candles does not have the allure of butter cream frosting with bright neon pink birthday wishes.

My mother was sensitive to this scheduling conflict, thus, when I was very young I was appeased with a trek to the toy store and carte blanche up to $25. In my teens, it was off to the movie theater with my friends for whatever movie was making its blockbuster holiday premier and a pizza sleep-over. As I grew up and eventually, out, we took on a new tradition. I was crowned the decision maker as to what to do with the turkey left-overs. Finally, the bird’s day in the spotlight was over, literally left-over.

A few of my favorites were fairly ordinary; Shepherd’s Pie, Turkey pot pie and Turkey noodle soup were regulars. As I got older, the requests were a bit more sophisticated. Turkey and sour cream enchiladas met with approval and when I requested Turkey Taquitos--that was a keeper.

However, one of my favorites was nothing inventive, creative or inspired by culinary vision. Regardless of my left-over request, turkey salad on mini cocktail bread made an annual appearance and truth be told, I would have forgotten about the other gastronomic explorations in favor of the plate of petite pleasers. As I came of age to share a bit of vino, a glass of bubbly or a fruity rose was included in the party.

I no longer compete with the bird, instead, we are allies. I happily share my birthday with the invited guest and relish the tasty treats it provides.

I thank the bird as left-over memories fill me with happiness.

Not only a great way to use the turkey, but with this salad you can toss in fennel, celery, apples, onion, or cranberries. The La Fantasia has bright berry notes and a slight effervescence; what a way to welcome the holiday season.
 

Mary Davidek
 
November 21, 2012 | Mary Davidek

All the Right Stuffing

My first attempt at preparing Thanksgiving dinner sans mother was 1995, a rite of passage. This particular meal was not a small intimate dinner for myself and my husband, this feast included 2 harsh scrutinizing critics; my step children.

We rented a cabin near Lake Tahoe as we thought it would be the ideal setting for a mountain holiday. The prospect of a Turkey day snowfall and a warm fire seemed perfection. Unfortunately, my mother hurt her leg 3 days before the trip which left more than travel arrangements to rearrange, she was chef de cuisine!

Finally, Thanksgiving Day arrived which meant the inevitable trip to the grocery store, but first, a phone call to Mom. Amidst tears (mine), frantic note taking (me), and some tricks (hers) I was set to create a yummy meal. With list in hand, including the deal-breakers (nothing with carrots, nuts, or mushrooms for Mikaela and for Philip; no peas, cauliflower, or squash). *sigh*… off to the market.

I bought more than was necessary but I was in no position to make last minute shopping trips, this was a one-time performance. Turkey breast; check. Wine; got it. Yams, mashed potatoes; easy. Wine; yes again. Gravy; not too difficult. Biscuits, the kids love little crescent rolls. Pie and whipped cream, double check. Wine; yes, will need a 3rd bottle. But (cue Jaws theme) what about stuffing! The very stuff of which Thanksgiving can be made or broken. I got the stuff on everything but the stuffing! And my Mother‘s stuffing was the benchmark, the Alpha, the Omega of stuffing. Turkeys were honored to be served with this stuffing. How could I have forgotten such a fundamental Thanksgiving Day dish? After all, I had watched her make stuffing for almost 30 years! That’s 30 Thanksgiving dinners! Wait…um….er…..yes. Ok, thanks Mom, I got this.

We sat cross-legged at the coffee table in the middle of a cozy living room, a fire was crackling and the snow was falling. Thanksgiving dinner 1995 garnered rave reviews, the critics were delighted and the stuffing was just right.

Happy Thanksgiving

Some very traditional ingredients plus a few additions; cornbread stuffing mix, broth, butter, salt, pepper, sweet onion, apple, fennel , dried cranberries, salt, pepper, grape seed oil, and sausage. Lean turkey or chicken sausage is usually my preference, but for stuffing, I want the extra richness of pork sausage.

Sauté onion, fennel and apple in grape seed oil. Grape seed oil brings complex fruitiness and is great for sauté. If available, use fennel instead of celery, it has a sweetness that compliments the onion and tart apple. This sauté has incredible aromatics.

I prefer cornbread but any stuffing mix will work. Add dried cranberries for a splash of color and a hint of acidity. Mix with browned sausage and sautéed veggies. Add melted butter and broth per instructions increasing broth amount by 1/5th. Bake at 350 for approximately 40 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Pinot Noir and Thanksgiving is a given at my table but with the abundance of savories it is hard to decide on a style of Pinot most suited for the big feast. Castello di Amorosa 2011 Los Carneros Pinot Noir is on the lighter side of the Pinot Noir spectrum, perfect for turkey and all the trimmings. Seductive notes of mulled spice on the nose and a mouthful of bright fruit, this will complement the entire spectrum of Turkey day dishes. To make this Pinot pop, serve at 62 to 65 degrees.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mary Davidek
 
November 14, 2012 | Mary Davidek

Brussels Sprouts, Wine and a Founding (foodie) Father

My inaugural blog is inspired by the season (harvest, Thanksgiving) as well as a pivotal election year. Lately, I have found myself churning with thoughts of presidents, Thanksgiving feasts and, of course, wine. For some inexplicable reason this combined into one seemingly implausible package when suddenly an image of Thomas Jefferson became etched in my mind. After a little cyber-searching clarity was resumed; apparently, for me, nothing says ‘Thanksgiving’ like Thomas Jefferson, Brussels sprouts, and wine!

Although the exact origins of Brussels sprouts are not known, Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing these curious plants to the United States and they were planted at Monticello, his Virginia home. Jefferson loved wine and became one of the world’s most quoted wine connoisseurs. He said ‘wine is a necessity of life’. Well, along with great wine our nation’s 3rd president also had quite an appetite for interesting food and was known for his sophisticated palate. Jefferson frequently hosted lively dinner parties and would often tantalize and intrigue his guests with new delicacies and served delicious wine and unusual foods to promote stimulating conversation. I can only imagine the questioning glance of an inquisitive guest as a platter of odd mini- cabbages were set upon the table and unexpectedly found them to be deliciously savory little vegetables.

With mouthwatering dishes, wine flowing, animated discussions and laughter filling the air……….I then pictured a pleased Thomas Jefferson, content and giving thanks.

Shucked Brussels Sprout leaves Sautéed with shallots and pine nuts
(Aka How to Convert Brussels Sprout Haters into Brussels Sprout Lovers!)

Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable as are cabbage, broccoli, and kale.  They contain healthy amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fiber and are believed to protect against certain cancers.

It takes a bit time but it is oddly therapeutic. Once shucked from the core, the green leaves of the sprout don’t have a bitter tang. 1 pound of Brussels sprouts shucked leaves serves 4.

Sea salt, pepper (white or black), butter, pine nuts, shucked leaves, shallots, chicken stock

Lightly sauté pine nuts and shallots in 1TBSP butter and sprinkle w/ salt. Remove from heat.

Sautee sprout leaves in 1 TBSP butter and season w/ salt and pepper. Add 2 to 5 ounces chicken stock as a light braising liquid. Boiling sprouts results in significant loss of nutrients but sautéing or roasting does not. Add pine nut and shallot mixture once the sprouts begin to cook down.

Although veggies are not typically wine-friendly, the butter and pine nuts make this a match for Chardonnay. Castello di Amorosa’s Reserve Chardonnay offers just the right touch of juicy pear and stone fruits balanced with a texture of creamy nutty tones that compliments the richness of this dish. 

For extra goodness, sprinkle with grated parm.

Buon Appetito.

Dario Sattui
 
October 22, 2012 | Dario Sattui

Sebastiano Rosa is here during harvest

Consulting winemaker Sebastiano Rosa has been here during harvest working with Brooks Painter, Director of Winemaking,  and Peter Velleno, Associate Winemaker. We welcomed some friends to meet him on October 9, where he shared wines from his winery in Sardinia (Montessu and Barrua from Agricola Punica). It was also a chance to taste several vintages of La Castellana, Il Barone and Il Passito with him. 

Dario Sattui
 
September 13, 2012 | Dario Sattui

Lupo Goes To Europe

LUPO GOES TO EUROPE

 

            My long-haired German Shepard Lupo is famous for being the Castle winery dog.  Whenever I am at the Castle, Lupo, my best friend, is there at my side.  He has become popular and well known to our customers.  He has even become somewhat famous gracing the cover or interior of several winery dog books.  And yes, his name means ‘wolf’ in Italian.

            As I ease into semi-retirement, I travel to Italy for more prolonged periods to stay at my monastery, now finally refurbished after 3 years and 6 months of restoration.  For years I had made promises to myself to bring Lupo to Europe with me, as he and I suffer greatly when we are apart for extended periods.  For weeks after I would depart he would go to the Castle searching for me, hanging out at my car, not eating---hoping I would arrive. Hearing this always saddened me.

            This past April, I decided to go to Europe for 12 weeks.  I just had to bring Lupo irrespective of cost or trouble.  It wasn’t easy.  Many airlines didn’t want dogs at all.  Others would only take smaller dogs.  Lupo weighs 122 pounds.  Other airlines that would take a large dog didn’t fly where I wanted to go.  I kept hearing no at every turn.  Finally, I found an agency that could do it for about $4,000.  As a last resort I was willing to pay the money, but I kept researching until a godsend happened.  That godsend was LUFTHANSA.  They agreed to take him and even walk and water him in Frankfurt, the stopover.  And the cost was only $400 each way plus the cage.  Not only does Lufthansa give great service to passengers, they really treat animals well. 

            But still I wasn’t sure.  Friends said 11 year old Lupo might die on the long, 15 hour flight and layover.  Others said he would suffer greatly, and I shouldn’t do it.  Then there was all the paperwork with the vet, the state of California, the vaccinations, etc. But the vet assured me it could be done safely.  And since Lupo sleeps most of the time anyway, could lie down, stand up and turn around in his cage (also equipped with lots of water) I decided to do it.  I wish I could lie down on a flight.

            I had to fly to Rome instead of my usual destination, Florence, as a bigger plane was needed, but it worked.  Upon disembarking in Rome, I nervously looked for Lupo.  As soon as he saw me he howled with delight.  I promptly let him out of his cage, and he did an extraordinary thing.  He christened Leonardo Di Vinci Airport by pooping in 5 different spots on the polished marble floors – which I had to clean up, but Lupo was healthy and happy, and we happily drove off to the monastery.

            In Europe, I took Lupo everywhere with me, traveling through much of Italy, Germany and Austria.  We hung out together every day, and he slept near me at night. I used to allow him to sleep in bed with me sometimes when he was younger and smaller. He was allowed into all restaurants and hotels with me. Nobody refused him. He was even offered meat and bones at restaurants. Europeans have a different mentality about animals.  He was a good---and pampered---watchdog at the monastery as well.

Lupo and I had a great time together.  He is one of the most well traveled dogs I know.  I do wish he had studied Italian harder to communicate with that country’s dogs better.  And thankfully he didn’t soil the San Francisco airport on our return, probably out of respect for American soil.  I vow now that every time I go to Europe for a month or more my best friend Lupo will be with me.


Time Posted: Sep 13, 2012 at 1:04 PM
Jim Sullivan
 
March 31, 2012 | Jim Sullivan

Capture the Castle Video Contest: Video of the Week

Castello di Amorosa's "Capture the Flavor" video contest on our Facebook page is in full swing.  One of the recent entries can be viewed by clicking:

http://youtu.be/JhziZB_bwU4

Click on the link below to go to Castello di Amorosa's "Capture the Flavor" video contest page:

http://apps.facebook.com/captureflavorcontest/contests/178426

Jim Sullivan
 
March 30, 2012 | Jim Sullivan

Famous Italian Winemaker from Sassicaia Joins Castello di Amorosa Team

Georg Salzner, Sebastiano Rosa and Brooks Painter celebrate at Castello di Amorosa

Napa Valley's Castello di Amorosa today announced that Sebastiano Rosa, winemaker at Tenuta San Guido- producer of Sassicaia- one of Italy's leading Bordeaux-style red wines has joined the winemaking team of Brooks Painter, Peter Velleno and Laura Orozco. Sebastiano will travel from his home in Bolgheri, Italy to consult with Painter's team on all aspects of Castello's Italian-style red wine program.

"From the vineyard to the glass, the addition of Sebastiano Rosa will bring an international perspective to our program," said Georg Salzner, President of Castello di Amorosa. "Our history is Italian; our winery is Italian style so it's natural that we partner with Sebastiano to create unique, Italian-style wines."

Rosa, the stepson of Nicolo Incisa della Rocchette whose family owns Sassicaia, brings an extensive wine background to the team. Upon graduating from U.C. Davis in 1990, Sebastiano participated in the 1991 harvest at the storied Chateau Lafite Rothschild.

From 1992 until 2002, he was General Manager at Tenuta di Argiano in Montalcino where he worked with legendary winemaker Giacomo Tachis, considered by some to be the father of the renaissance of Italian wine. While Sassacaia was the first wine in the renaissance, his other label, Solengo, was the number 8 wine in Wine Spectator's Top 100 and received 96 points in only it's second vintage.

"We are excited about Sebastiano's collaboration and contributions to our winemaking," said Brooks Painter, Castello's Director of Winemaking. "At Castello di Amorosa we are only interested in producing top quality wine. Sebastiano will help us continue to craft exceptional wines with distinct character and structure while respecting the unique Napa Valley terrior."

Rosa, the Technical Director of Tenuta San Guido from 2002 until 2011, managed the Sassicaia cellar where he started the second and third labels for Sassicaia- Guidalberto and Le Difese.

Jim Sullivan
 
March 26, 2012 | Jim Sullivan

Spring is here

In many parts of the country, winter is still hanging around, but not in the Napa Valley and certainly not at Castello di Amorosa's vineyards where budbreak, the first emergence of shoots that will ultimately bear fruit, occurred earlier this week. Sangiovese showed it's buds first; Primitivo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines will budbreak next. Budbreak occurs when the vines wake from their winter dormancy and begin to show signs of life. Water drawn up through the extensive root system appears on the cuts made by pruning. This is followed by the emergence of tiny buds. Leaves eventually unfold- a fresh start to a new growing season.

Working in the vineyard is a labor of love. Pictured below is Mario Martinez, Vineyard Crew Leader. His gentle hands prepare the Primitivo vines for the growing season.


Mario Martinez tends to the Primitivo vines.

Jim Sullivan
 
March 13, 2012 | Jim Sullivan

Castello di Amorosa Wins Best of Show at American Fine Wine Competition in Florida

Twenty four judges tasted their way through 660 wines from across the country and found Castello di Amorosa’s 2009 Il Passito - a late harvest blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon that sees 20 months in French Oak- the top white wine of the competition.  Gold medals were awarded to the 2008 vintages of Il Barone and La Castellana and the 2009 Bien Nacido Vineyards Chardonnay.

“We only enter a couple of wine competitions a year,” said Castello di Amorosa President, Georg Salzner. “We were honored to be invited to this invitation only competition and very pleased with the final results.”

Held at the prestigious Boca Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, the American Fine Wine Competition is rapidly becoming the premier wine competition in the country with an all-star judging panel of recognized professionals as wine educators, wine writers, restaurateurs and sommeliers all with top qualifications in the their field.

It’s tough to win this competition-- 100 percent of the panel of judges must agree that any particular wine is worthy of a Gold Medal.  To win Best of Show, the consensus standards are even greater.

Castello di Amorosa’s award-winning wines will be poured at the American Fine Wine Competition Gala at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida by 50 volunteer Wine Angels.  Five courses will be served with the main course being prepared live on stage by Chef Emeril Lagasse.

Benefiting the Diabetes Research Institute and the Golden Bell Education Foundation, the Lifestyle live auction will be presided over by Alan Kalter announcer for Late Night with David Letterman. The Silent Auction features all 600+ award winning wines each signed by the winemakers themselves.

 

Winery

Year

Wine

Region

BOS

Castello di Amorosa

2009

Il Passito

North Coast

BOC

Ferrante Winery

2010

Golden Bunches

Grand River Valley

BOC

Ledson Winery & Vineyards

2010

 

Napa Valley

BOC

Mumm Napa

2005

DVX

Napa Valley

BOC

Mumm Napa

2009

 

Napa Valley

GG

Chappellet Vineyard & Winery

2010

 

Napa Valley

GG

Sbragia Family Vineyards

2008

Gamble Ranch

Napa Valley

GG

Sterling Vineyards

2008

Reserve

Napa Valley

G

Castello di Amorosa

2009

Bien Nacido Vineyards

Santa Barbara County

G

Castello di Amorosa

2008

Il Barone

Napa Valley

G

Castello di Amorosa

2008

La Castellana

Napa Valley

G

Acacia

2009

Sangiacomo Vineyard

Carneros

G

Ceja Vineyards

2008

 

Carneros

G

Domaine Carneros

2006

Le Reve Blanc de Blancs

Carneros

G

Mi Sueno Winery

2009

 

Los Carneros

G

Grgich Hills Estate

2010

Estate Grown

Napa Valley

G

Hall

2010

 

Napa Valley

G

Honig Vineyard and Winery

2010

 

Napa Valley

G

Miner Family Winery

2008

Wild Yeast

Napa Valley

G

Mumm Napa

NV

Brut Rose

Napa Valley

G

Truchard Vineyards

2010

 

Napa Valley

G

Swanson Vineyards

2007

"Tardif"

Oakville

G

Provenance Vineyards

2010

Estate

Rutherford

S

Artesa (Codorniu)

NV

Estate Reserve

Carneros

S

Clos Pegase

2008

Hommage Artist Reserve

Carneros

S

Patz & Hall

2009

Hyde Vineyard

Carneros

S

Beaulieu Vineyards

2008

Reserve

Los Carneros

S

Bouchaine Vineyards

2010

Bouche D'Or

Los Carneros

S

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

2010

Sofia Blanc de Blancs

Monterey County

S

B CELLARS

2010

BLEND 23

Napa Valley

S

Ballentine Vineyards

2009

Chenin Blanc

Napa Valley

S

Bennett Lane Winery

NV

After Feasting Wine

Napa Valley

S

Cornerstone

2010

Stepping Stone

Napa Valley

S

Frank Family Vineyards

2010

 

Napa Valley

S

John Anthony Vineyards

2010

 

Napa Valley

S

Maldonado Family Vineyards

2008

 

Napa Valley

S

Raymond Vineyards

2009

Reserve Selection

Napa Valley

S

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

2009

Karia

Napa Valley

S

Trefethen Family Vineyards

2009

LH Riesling

Oak Knoll

S

Turnbull Wine Cellars

2010

 

Oakville, Napa Valley

S

Sawyer Cellars

2010

Estate

Rutherford

S

JCB by Jean-Chaarles Boisset

2010

JCB No. 81

Sonoma Coast

B

Schug Carneros Estate Winery

2009

 

Carneros

B

Gustavo Thrace

2010

 

Napa Valley

B

Hess Collection

2010

Allomi

Napa Valley

B

Rutherford Wine Company

2010

 

Napa Valley

B

Keenan Winery

2010

 

Spring Mountain

 

Jim Sullivan
 
January 8, 2012 | Jim Sullivan

Castello di Amorosa wine wins San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Napa Valley's Castello di Amorosa wins San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition:

We are pleased to announce that Castello di Amorosa’s 2010 Anderson Valley Late Harvest Gewürztraminer is the Sweepstakes Winner and Best of Class in the Dessert wine category at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines in the world.

Sweepstakes awards were given for Sparkling, White, Pink, Red and Dessert. The 2010 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, the only wine from the Napa Valley to win a Sweepstakes title, was the best of 66 other Dessert wines submitted by wineries from across the U.S.

In addition to the Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, our 2010 Mendocino County Gewürztraminer received a Double Gold and the 2008 Merlot was a Gold Medal winner at this prestigious wine competition.

The 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition set a new American wine competition record with an astounding 5,500 entries, surpassing its previous record of 5,050 last year.

For complete results, see http://www.winejudging.com

The winning treo of Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, Dry Gewurztraminer and Napa Valley Merlot.

(Photo: Jim Sullivan, 2012)

Time Posted: Jan 8, 2012 at 2:31 PM

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