Inspired by our recent participation at the California Artisan Cheese Festival (so many great cheeses at this fun event!), we sat down and pondered the influence of cheese on the perception of wine. We thought we’d focus on cheeses that are traditionally paired with deeply flavored red wines, specifically aged cheeses with some acidity, but then ventured into some aged sheep and goat cheese, to add some fun to the tasting.
Overall, we found that very young and fresh cheeses were best paired with the fresh flavors of approachable white and sparkling wines. With more complex white wines and medium bodied red wines, we liked medium aged dryer and more complex cheeses. More dense, aged cheeses, with more developed flavors, were complemented nicely by the richness and depth of flavorful and robust red wines like the ones we make. Here are a few cheeses we liked, that we thought be great alongside our own Estate 1856 wines.
Estate 1856 – 2013 MALBEC
Robust dark toned aromas offer hints of ripe berries woven with mocha and chocolate, but don’t disclose the delicious treat that follows. The velvety entry flows into a round mouthfeel and spicy texture that burst with flavors while caressing the palate. Lush blueberry and huckleberry mingle with traces of blackberry and baking spices, while a touch of violet joins the fruit near the long finish. Seamlessly integrated tannins and vanillin oak add structure and dimension to this concentrated beauty.
MIDNIGHT MOON by Cypress Grove – a smooth, nutty yet slightly crunchy aged goat milk cheese that allowed us to focus on the incredible fruit in the Malbec while allowing a smoothness and creaminess on the palate!
Estate 1856 – 2013 PETIT VERDOT
Savor the captivating aromatics of concentrated blackberry with traces of dark chocolate, caramel, fresh ground coffee, and coconut. The silken entry and lush monthfeel showcase layers of delicious dark berry and creamy mocha, along with hints of ripe dark cherry, Valrhona chocolate, and restrained black pepper. Supple tannins and fine-grained oak remain in the background, providing structure without interfering with the luscious, elegant flavors.
PURPLE MOON by Fiscalini Cheese Co. – a creamy cheddar cheese soaked in wine that enhanced the incredible fruit in the Petit Verdot and created complementary creaminess on the palate.
Estate 1856 – 2013 DUVALL’S PROSPECT Bordeaux Blend
Enticing aromas of ripe berries mingle with a hint of fine herbs and a mineral essence. A concentrated, velvety entry is infused with layers of black raspberry, dark cherry, currant, and a hint of blueberry. Dark chocolate, creamy coffee, and just a trace of eucalyptus appear mid-palate as the flavors expand and linger. Supple tannins and gentle oak notes are found among the flavors, staying in the background yet lending structure and weight to the wine.
BLACKSTONE by Bellweather Farms – a blended cow and sheep milk aged cheese covered with a thin coat of black pepper..earthy, peppery, spicy with lots of yummy that stood up to the complexity of this wine!
In the end, it comes down to what you most enjoy sipping and tasting…so pay a visit to your local cheesemonger, open your favorite bottle of Estate 1856, and bon appetit!
Most people assume that harvest ends once the grapes come off the vine. However, that’s just the starting point. The wine industry takes a longer view and considers “harvest” to be the series of steps that turn the wine grapes into stable wine, involving not one, but two separate fermentations.
- Step 1: Wine grapes are removed from the vine, or “harvested,” and taken to the winery.
- Step 2: The grapes are crushed and the crushed fruit, called “must,” has yeast and yeast nutrients added.
- Step 3: The yeast ferments the grape sugars into heat, carbon dioxide and alcohol.
- Step 4: The “must” is pressed after there is no more sugar left to ferment.
- Step 5: The new wine is put into barrels and freeze-dried malolactic (ML) bacteria is added to complete the secondary ML fermentation.
- Step 6: ML fermentation transforms malic acid to softer lactic acid, and the wine is pumped out of the barrel, then racked off the gross lees. The wine can now be considered stable and only then will “harvest” be complete!
The wine grapes we harvested this fall are currently undergoing the secondary ML fermentation, (Step 5), which typically takes 4 – 8 weeks to complete. Once the wine is racked, we will blend it, adjust the SO2, and then the wine begin can begin its barrel aging.
The video below shows Janice tasting each barrel after pressing and ML inoculation, (Steps 4 & 5), to make sure each barrel is quietly fermenting.
For the second year in a row, one of our wines has been named to Sonoma Magazine’s 100 Best Wines of Sonoma!
The publication selected our 2013 Malbec as one of the county’s best – an incredible honor, especially when you consider the sheer number of amazing wines coming out of Sonoma today. We’re thrilled to be included among so many distinguished wineries; congratulations to all!
Bottled in July of 2015 and released earlier this year, our 2013 Malbec has received a number of accolades, including:
BEST OF CLASS & DOUBLE GOLD
2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
95 POINTS & GOLD MEDAL
2016 Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge
2015 Grand Harvest Awards
Wine writer and reviewer, Linda Murphy, had this to say about the wine:
Estate 1856 Wines
2013 Tzabaco Rancho Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Malbec
Brian and Janice Schmidt (she’s the winemaker) won gold and achieved 95 points at the NCWC with this brawny, dense wine with blackberry, blueberry and mulberry flavors accented by chocolate, vanilla and baking spice.
The tannins are quite firm, suggesting a year or more of bottle age will reward the patient. (LM)
Check out this great article yourself in the online issue of The 2016 100 Best Wines of Sonoma…our review is located on page A109!
As vineyard owners, Brian & Janice are about halfway through this year’s harvest. However, they only just started picking the Bordeaux varieties we use for our Estate 1856 wines, adding another layer of complexity to an already full schedule.
Curious to know what an average day of grape picking involves? Here’s Janice’s account from Monday, when we officially kicked off the Estate 1856 harvest.
What a treat – we got to sleep in until 6am! But as soon as the alarm went off, Brian and I threw on our work clothes, downed a few bites of breakfast, and started toward the vineyard. I ran back to the house to grab a jacket, as the temperatures have dropped from last week and it was definitely still chilly at dawn. The change in temperature was actually a good thing because it slowed down the ripening and also allowed the wineries to catch up after the influx of fruit that came in when the heat rose.
The sun was coming up as we made our way to the vineyard and I took a few minutes to appreciate the view of the sun lighting up the hills that frame the west side of Dry Creek Valley. What an amazing place we get to call home! The valley was still relatively quiet at that hour – we passed just one other truck full of what I’m guessing was the last of the mid-season varieties, maybe Zinfandel or Merlot. Today we harvested the first Cabernet Sauvignon of the season, the base variety for our Duvall’s Prospect Bordeaux Blend. We’d been sampling the Cab for two weeks, watching the sugars rise with warm days, pause with cool days, and begin to rise again as it warmed until the sugar level got to 24.5 – 25.0 Brix. I like to pick the Cab at this sugar level because the final alcohols are then in perfect balance with the flavor and depth of the wines. This year has been the perfect growing season – cool mornings and warm days, some with heavy fog in the morning, giving us great hang time for flavor development.
We met up with our ranch foreman, Pedro, and quickly reviewed the plan for the morning. We were starting with our two European clones, 191 and 337; clones that are distinctively blackberry and cassis in aroma. It usually takes a crew of four about one hour to pick 1 ton of heavy-clustered fruit, like Zinfandel or Sauvignon Blanc. However, Cabernet Sauvignon grows in light-weight, open clusters, so it takes twice as long to pick the same amount of fruit. We thought we would finish up at 11am, but unfortunately we only had 3 of the 4 pickers we were expecting, so we didn’t finish picking until 12:30pm. While the crew picked, Brian, Pedro and I divided up the supporting tasks. Today, I was behind the wheel, moving the tractor & macrobin forward as the crew made their way down the rows. Pedro kept track of the number of bandejas, or lugs, that each person filled; and Brian pulled out leaves and any green grapes as the fruit was dumped into 1000 lb macrobins. We filled a total of eight macrobins.
By 1pm, we were at the winery. The grapes were first unloaded onto a conveyor belt, allowing us to sort the grapes and take out any leaves that got past Brian during the field sorting. The fruit was then dumped into the hopper for de-stemming, then the individual grapes fell into a 1.5 ton fermentation bin. At this point, I adjusted the SO2 to reduce the normal background microflora so that the yeast do not have to compete for nutrients, then I flagged the forklift over to move the bin to the barrel warehouse, where it will sit for 24 hours. Tomorrow, I’ll come back to the winery to inoculate the fruit with yeast and nutrients.
With the winery work completed, Brian and I got back to the ranch and started taking the next round of samples, which I then analyzed for the sugar and acid levels. Different parts of the vineyard ripen at different times, so the samples help us determine which sections we’ll pick next. In addition to our large winery customers, we also sell grapes to home winemakers, so I spent the rest of the day calling and emailing the home winemakers to schedule their picking days and times.
Exhausted after our 18th day of picking, we made an easy dinner, reviewed the plan for the following day, and headed to bed early – ready to start the whole process over again the next day!