Winery Blog

The question of how to taste wine is often asked by those who are new to wine tasting.   This is a great question and the formula for evaluating wine is essential to what we do here at the winery. With the upcoming Fall release, we have six great new vintages to explore, but have decided to take a more in-depth look at the process with one of our favorites - an extremely limited, Tasting Room-exclusive: the 2015 Knights Valley Malbec.

Typically, when we are having the casual glass of wine after hours, we simply sip and enjoy, but when new wine arrives we take more time to evaluate.  When enjoying a new wine for the first time, there are three main elements to analyze: color, aroma and taste.  Each of these has specific details to consider.

Color is often something that is overlooked. Seldom do we see guests take the time to hold the glass in the air to look through the sides, or tilt it on its edge to see the center of the glass. Looking at the color works best against a white background, that way we can tell this vintage of Malbec is dark, very dark. The center of the glass is almost black, however the color tapers at the edge of the wine, which shows a rich purple color.  When Guest Relations Supervisor, Joe Label, poured this wine for the first time, he immediately noted the deep purple color and said, “Wow there is intense color extraction here.” This would lead one to believe there may be more concentration of flavors in the wine.  Wine tasting is always a comparison from one wine to another; impressions with the color of the Malbec had the team thinking of the color of Petite Sirah, or a full-bodied Zinfandel.

When it comes to the aromas of wine, there are thousands of possibilities.  Each grape variety has specific characteristics to explore.  We use the term “varietal character” to describe the potential aromas in a particular wine.  Malbec tends to have a darker fruit profile, such as blackberry or black cherry, with savory and spice notes.  When evaluating aromas, it’s important to get your nose deep into the glass and tilt your head from side to side. It is a little-known fact that at any given time, you have a dominate nostril.  

One of the most entertaining parts of wine drinking is “the swirl,” which comes with lots of practice. It is best to start slowly to prevent purple Jackson Pollock-like splashes on your clothes.  The swirl increases the surface area of the wine, introducing oxygen, and allows you to capture more of the aroma.  Dave Cassetta, our Tasting Room Lead, exclaims that the wine has more dominate spice notes than the previous vintage and hints of black licorice aroma. We all quickly agree.    

Finally, there is taste, and like color and aroma, it is not without its intricacies to showcase the immense complexity wine has to offer.  When tasting wine, it is important to have the wine reach all parts of your tongue.  Wine professionals will bring the wine to their lips and draw it into their mouth (almost drinking from a straw), having it touch the tip of their tongue first, before allowing it to touch the middle and sides.  Each part of your tongue can taste different flavors, so this is key to remember when formally evaluating the taste of a wine.  There are three parts, or sequences, to tasting wine: the initial, mid-palate and finish.  Your first impressions will come on the initial as the wine hits your tongue. Some wines lack a notable intensity during the initial, however the Malbec does not lack this and the spice that was noticed in the aromas caries through and instantaneously sparks your attention.  The most concentrated flavors of the wine are noticed during the mid-palate and the most attention is paid to the flavor that register in the wine right before swallowing.  Everything that you taste after that is the finish. Depending on the wine it can be short, only a few seconds, or up to a minute as the intensity of the wine lingers on your palate. 

One other important aspect to note is the texture of the wine.  For red wines, we look at how the wine feels in your mouth such as the viscosity or full-bodied nature.  We also talk about tannins.  Tannins are chemical compounds found in red wines that create a sensation of dryness on your palate.  Tannins come from the extraction of color from the grape skins as well as from the aging process in oak barrels.  The 2015 Malbec was aged in French oak for 24 months and with the deep color there is a fair amount of tannin, however they are not overpowering.  The wine has a medium to full-bodied character with flavors of blackberry, dark chocolate, black licorice and spice.  It is a fantastic example of the varietal and we look forward to sharing with you!

Cheers,

The Tasting Room Team

 

6 oz lamb burger, cumin mayonnaise, confit tomato, brioche bun

 

It is the best time of the year to enjoy the Arrowood Veranda and Team Arrowood is toasting to the end of summer by cooking up one of our favorite Prime Pairings burger recipes, the Lamb Burger.  Expertly paired, winemaker Kristina Shideler’s Proprietary Red has the bold fruit and spice to contrast the savory flavors from this recipe.

 

Heating up the grill, the view can’t get any better

 

Grill hot check, burgers ready check, tomatoes roasted check.

 

Of course, we wouldn’t forget the wine!

 

And the perfectly timed flip

 

A delicious burger with a fantastic view with a great wine to match

 

 

SERVES: 4 people

PAIRING: 2014 Proprietary Red Blend

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ lb ground lamb, formed into 4 patties
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, picked
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, smashed
  • 12 each whole-peeled can tomatoes, eye removed
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 4 cracks fresh black pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp ice water
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin, toasted
  • 2 cups wild arugula
  • 4 brioche buns, toasted if preferred

 

PRODECURE:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Put the olive oil, herbs, and garlic in the bottom of a baking dish large enough to fit the tomatoes in one layer. Then lay in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Once the oven is hot, turn it off completely, and place the tomatoes over or near the pilot light. Baste every 30 minutes until they have shriveled and no longer plump. This step takes at least two hours but can be left in the oven overnight as long as it is off.
  3. To make the mayonnaise, add the eggs with 1 tsp salt to blender or food processor. Mix on low, scraping down sides if necessary, until completely combined. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil, adding the ice water about half way to keep sauce from breaking. Keep cool.
  4. Season the patties with kosher salt, and grill on each side until desired doneness. We recommend medium (160°F internal temperature). Let rest for five minutes after cooking.
  5. To assemble, spread cumin mayonnaise on both bun halves, followed by arugula, lamb patty, and confit tomato.

 

PAIRING NOTES:

  • This burger also holds up well the Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, especially given its herbal qualities.
  • The rich tomato flavor helps to intensify the long, red fruit finish of the wine.
  • The cumin is there, but very subtle.
  • The arugula adds a peppery note that is often found in many Cabernets.

 

 

Decanting 101

If your friends and family know that you love wine, odds are good that you have been the recipient of several (if not more) wine aerators over the years. And if you’re like us here at Arrowood, most of those gadgets are unused and sitting in a box somewhere near your wine collection. The fact is, there are hundreds of distinct types of aerators out there - from fancy pour spouts to air sucking wine blenders - and all of them do one thing: add oxygen to your wine. They also all achieve the same goal, to increase flavor and soften edges, thus leading to a more enjoyable glass of wine. These devices all work to varying degrees and can be entertaining to use and show off at parties, however If you were to only keep only one, we would recommend the time-tested wine decanter.

Properly decanting your bottle of wine is simple, however it can lead to several questions which can make things more complicated. What types of wine are best for decanting? How long do I let the wine sit before drinking? Do I decant older wines or younger wines? The difficult part is that there are no standard answers. Often in the tasting room the answer to questions like these is, “Well, it depends.” Decant young wine if it is tannic or tight (meaning lacking robust flavor) and decant an older wine to remove sediment or if there are off aromas that may dissipate with oxygen. However, decanting light-bodied young wines might make the wine taste flat and some older wines after decanting lose their freshness. So, these are merely guidelines and suggest that you trust your palate.

After opening a bottle of your favorite Arrowood Cabernet, pour yourself a taste and answer these questions, is it delicious? – yes (well of course, it’s a bottle of Arrowood after all), but do you think it could be better?  If it tastes amazing with soft tannins, bright fruit and spice (perhaps it is a bottle of 2013 Proprietary Red Wine?) it might be best just to pour away and enjoy. If you are enjoying a bottle of 2014 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the act of pouring it into a glass and giving a vigorous swirl may be enough aeration. The soft, plush fruit coming from hillside vineyards such as the Smothers-Remick Ridge, make this a great younger-drinking wine. This outstanding vintage is one of my favorite Arrowood wines at the moment and I highly recommend picking some up.

On another occasion, a bottle of 2012 Réserve Spéciale might be your cellar selection for the night. The initial taste is good, but perhaps it is not at its full potential. Now is the time to decant! Locate your favorite decanter and pour the entire bottle of wine into it, making sure to slowly pour down the side of the decanter. This increases the surface area of the wine, which will increase the oxygen level and will also allow you to see if any sediment is present in the wine.  For older wines, we recommend letting the bottle sit upright for up to a day to allow sediment to settle at the bottom. Once the wine has been poured into the decanter, taste it again. Wines such as our Réserve Spéciale are highly concentrated and complex, which will benefit from extended time in the decanter. Thirty minutes will be fine; an hour would be even better. Your patience will be rewarded as you taste what makes this year such a stunning vintage and can truly appreciate all the complexities the wine has to offer. We will be pouring our 2012 Réserve Spéciale at our Harvest Party this October. 

There will always be a debate in the wine drinking world on whether to decant or not to decant, and we advise that you trust your taste buds.  We want each Arrowood wine to express its full potential so when in doubt: Don’t hesitate, aerate.

Decanters, aerators, corkscrews shaped like parrots, stoppers made from old rusty doorknobs- all of these essential items are bountiful in both the world of wine drinking and your wine cellar junk drawer. We invite you to share your favorite wine accessories on our Facebook page or post them on Instagram using the hashtag #arrowodwinery

Cheers!

Clint Smith

Estate Manager and wine lover

 

 

Arrowood's Under the Radar White Wines are Perfect for Summer

Arrowood Winery is famous for Cabernet Sauvignon, but when hot summer weather comes, I like to reach for white wines, and so do our wine club members and fans. I only make a very small quantity of white wine -- about 500 cases a year. 

White Wine - Viognier Tag at Saralee's Vineyard
 
I’m really proud of both the Arrowood Viognier and Chardonnay -- the key to both of these white wines is the land. 
 
You hear a lot of winemakers say that wine is made in the vineyard. In a way that’s true, since all winemakers work with the fruit Mother Nature gives us each season. Lots of times nature doesn’t throw us surprises. But when the weather is good, the vineyard is the right place for that varietal and your vineyard team manages things just right, you get perfect fruit. 
 
That’s what’s been happening with our Chardonnay and Viognier, and both of these distinctive and beautiful wines tell a story about the vineyards where the fruit is grown.  
 

White Wines - Voluptuous Viognier

White Wines - Arrowood Viognier

Dick Arrowood who founded our winery was fond of Rhône wines, so he started making Viognier right from the start in 1986. Viognier (pronounced Vee-oh-knee-AY) is a slightly exotic grape that originally comes from France.  
 
The most famous and prized Viognier is from the small region of France called Condrieu — it’s legendary for its luscious flavors. It’s a dry wine (not sweet) but it overflows with aromas of peaches, apricots, honey and lemony floral scent. On the palate, it’s refreshing and rich at the same time. 
 
The Viognier from Saralee’s Vineyard is pretty famous too, because the entire block is planted in rows that curve around a hill. From the top it looks like a bullseye, and I’ve never seen anything like it. The grapes growing there get sun from 360 degrees.
 
Saralee’s Vineyard is out in the heart of the Russian River Valley.  It sounds like a quaint little patch of vines, but actually, it’s a sprawling vineyard that starts on a hill and then continues on for about 80 acres.
 
Richard and Saralee Kunde
 
The vineyard was named for Saralee Kunde, a legend in Sonoma grape-growing community for the way she supported agricultural education for local young people. She and her husband Rich made their own wine, and they also grew grapes that they sold to other wineries.
 
“She was just a great part of the community,” says Shaun Kajiwara, director of vineyards for Arrowood Winery. “She donated lots of time to helping kids with agriculture.”
 
And she also created a vineyard that’s like a grapevine museum, because it has so many different varieties and clones. 
 
“This is probably one of the best-known vineyards in all of Sonoma,” Kajiwarra said. “Saralee asked wineries what they wanted her to plant. That was rare.”
 
Shaun Kajmura, Director of Vineyards
 
Kajiwara says the curved rows mean the grapes don’t ripen evenly. The ones that get more sun are more ripe and sweet, while the less ripe grapes add more tangy, citrusy flavor.
 
Normally, that would be a problem, but for Viognier and aromatic whites, this setup is quite perfect because you get more complexity. You have some areas that get that ripe peach and nectarine and other areas you get more brightness.
 
It all comes together in a wine that feels luxurious on the palate. I love it on its own, but also with seafood or Thai or Asian food. One of the best pairings I’ve had was with butternut squash soup in the fall because of the warm spices like nutmeg just sang with the wine. 
 
You’ll have to be a wine club member or visit Arrowood to taste our Viognier, but once you do, it just might be your new favorite summer wine.
 

White Wines - The Perfect Chardonnay

White Wine - Arrowood Chardonnay

Chardonnay can grow anywhere but my favorites come from cool vineyards, just like in Burgundy, France. But we were lucky to find this little vineyard in Sonoma that’s the perfect place for making Chardonnay.
 
The fruit for our Chardonnay comes from the Carneros, and I think that’s an excellent choice. It’s in the middle of these rolling hills of Carneros and the fruit is amazing. 
 
The San Pablo Bay keeps the vineyard cool and foggy most of the time, so the grapes spend longer on the vine ripening and developing the flavors I want. Plus the vineyard is on a steep 20 percent slope, so the vines get some stress to add more complexity. 
 
I’m thankful to have such a great team managing the vineyard, and they pick it at just the right time. Because of these great growing conditions, we’re able to pick at lower sugar levels and higher acid levels, but still get all the ripeness in Chardonnay that California is known for. 
 
Nothing is added to the wine, which is pretty incredible. It’s very hands-off and we let the vineyard express itself. The natural yeast does its thing, and once fermentation is over, it gets aged in 2-year-old oak barrels, which add texture to the wine, but very little oak flavor. 
 
It’s a refreshing wine, that’s made for anything in the fish, chicken or even pork spectrum. Or just sipping on a hot day. With this one, I’m making the wine I like to drink.
 

California Portobello Burger

 
Bite into the refreshing, savory flavors of this California Portobello Burger seasoned with a Sonoma spice blend.
 
If you’re looking for a tasty vegetarian recipe or simply wanting to incorporate more veggies into your diet, then your going to love everything about the California Portobello Burger. I’m even willing to bet that if you serve it to your non-vegetarian friends (like I did), they won’t miss the meat even one bit. The portobello mushroom is perfectly seasoned with Arrowood Vineyards Sonoma spice blend that contains dried black trumpet mushrooms, pink peppercorns, Espelette pepper, cocoa powder & additional herbs and spices. To give it that California flare, we topped it with melted gruyere cheese, roasted tomatoes and crushed avocado. Yum, yum and yum!
 
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
 
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
 
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
 

California Portobello Burger

serving size: 2
 
Ingredients:
 
(2) portobello mushroom caps
4-6 Roma tomatoes
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
2-4 slices of gruyere cheese
1 avocado, diced
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp jalapeno, de-seeded, diced
2 hamburger buns
1 cup arugula
2 tbsp Sonoma Spice Blend
 
Directions:
 
Start by scraping out the inside of the portobello mushrooms and trimming the stem. Then drizzle mushrooms with olive oil and season with the Sonoma Spice Blend. Set aside.
 
Preheat the oven to 375°. Slice 4-6 Roma tomatoes in halves and place on a lined sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh rosemary. Roast for 40-45 minutes and increase temperature to 400° if needed, and roast an additional 15-20 minutes.
 
While the tomatoes are roasting, make the crushed avocado mixture by combining diced avocados, tomatoes, onion and jalapeño in a small bowl. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and a sea salt. Combine and refrigerate until ready to plate.
 
When the tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven and set aside.
 
Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and cook mushrooms on each side for 3-4 minutes, flipping once. Add the slices of gruyere cheese and cover. Let melt for 1-2 minutes.
 
Assemble the California Portobello Burgers starting with the bun, followed by 1/2 cup of arugula and the portobello mushroom and top with the roasted tomatoes and crushed avocado followed by the remaining bun. Serve with a glass of Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
 
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
 
This is one of those recipes where it only takes one bite and you feel like you’ve knocked it out of the park. There are so many delicious flavors going on in this California Portobello Burger that you just keep going back for more, bite after bite. I can’t wait to serve these up to some friends this summer out on the back patio alongside a few bottles of my favorite Arrowood Vineyards Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine balances perfectly with the savoriness of the portobello mushroom and fresh flavors of the melted gruyere, roasted tomatoes and crushed avocados.
 
We’ve got a few extra portobello mushrooms in the fridge and can’t wait to make another round of these burgers. Hey, we have to do a fair amount of "taste testing" before we serve it to our friends right? Cheers to tasty summer ahead!
 
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
 
Arrowood Vineyards California Portobello Burger Recipe
 
Try out some of the other delicious recipes we’ve made using the Sonoma Spice Blend like the Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu served over Tagliatelle Pasta or the Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction.
 
 

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Smothers-Remick Ridge Vineyard - 10 Interesting Facts

Smothers-Remick Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
 

1. Monopole

Smothers-Remick Ridge is a monopole vineyard for Arrowood. Monopole means that all the grapes from a particular vineyard are used by only one single winery.  In this case, all the grapes off Smothers-Remick Ridge come to the winery to be used exclusively for Arrowood wines.
 

2. Cabernet Sauvignon

 
The vineyard has been a component of the Réserve Spéciale Cabernet Sauvignon since 1992, the first vintage of our flagship wine. Although fruit sourcing has been very similar since that time, Smothers-Remick Ridge is the only vineyard that has made it into the Réserve bottling with every consecutive vintage. These blocks are chosen for their intensity in concentration, tannin quality, and overall aromatic contribution to the Réserve blend.
 

3. 11 Vineyard Blocks

The 17.6-acre vineyard is divided into 11 distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon blocks. These blocks are often divided up further into smaller lots in the winery, to understand different areas within a particular block.  With each block having distinct topography, exposure, spacing, and plant material, we end up with wines that have multiple expressions of this incredible site.
 

4. Smothers Brothers

Named by owner Tommy Smothers of the world-famous Smothers Brothers, the vineyard is also named after Smothers’ grandfather, Ed Remick, who lived on the property for 15 years with Tommy. Originally, we purchased grapes through a contract with Mr. Smothers, but our longstanding relationship has evolved into a partnership through which we now farm the vineyard year-round. 
 

5. Marcy Block

The Marcy Block, named after Tommy’s wife, is the primary block that makes the Smothers-Remick Ridge vineyard designate wine. The eastern-most facing block on the property with the rockiest soils, it is year after year the most distinct block, defined by its bright and decadent red cherry aromatics and plush tannins.  
 

6. Sonoma Mountain AVA

Smothers-Remick Ridge vineyard is located in the Sonoma Mountain AVA, a sub-appellation of Sonoma Valley, that encompasses the rolling hills to the west of the valley, and bordered by the eastern and northern slopes of Sonoma Mountain. At 600 feet, this site enjoys well-drained rocky soils and morning sun exposure that offer perfect conditions for high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon. 

 

7. Organically Farmed

Smothers-Remick Ridge is organically farmed, which works extremely well to achieve vine balance and maintain low yields.  The attention to detail and challenging work required to achieve organic status is a commitment to quality as well as the environment.
 

8. 32 Months in Barrel

The Smothers-Remick Ridge Cabernet is aged for 32 months in barrel. After approximately 16 months of aging, each individual barrel is selected and blended together in tank, then goes back down to barrel for an additional 16 months of aging. This allows the wine to integrate and age as a final blend, yielding the elegant and balanced structure this wine is known for.
 

9. Built to Last

Along with its history in our Réserve bottling, Smothers-Remick Ridge is also our longest ongoing vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignon bottling.  Since the first vintage in 2007, we have saved cases in our wine library to follow and understand the ageability of this vineyard. 
 

10. Unfined and Unfiltered

Smothers-Remick Ridge Cabernet is bottled unfined and unfiltered.  Our Réserve Spéciale and vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignons are bottled in this way to retain purity, complex aromatics, texture and more than anything else, the wine’s intrinsic personality.  

Enjoy the savory flavors of red wine braised short rib ragu served over a bowl of tagliatelle pasta. 

If there is one category of food that I can never get enough of, it’s pasta. Not just any pasta though. After having been to Italy I find it utterly important to buy the highest quality pasta if you want your dish to really hold its own. The thing with this recipe is the tagliatelle pasta doesn’t have to play the lead as the red wine braised short rib ragu is definitely going to be the star of the show. Now, I’m the first to tell you that cooking meats is typically not my strongest skill in the kitchen, but ever since getting an Instant Pot, it’s like I’m a culinary genius. I love meals that look like a million bucks, but are actually quite simple to make and that’s what this recipe is all about.
 
No Instant Pot? No problem! You can also modify to use a standard pressure cooker.
 
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
 
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
 
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
 
Everything that needs to happen in this recipe takes place inside the Instant Pot. Everything. From braising the short ribs to sautéing the onions and garlic and cooking it all down with a rich tomato sauce, it’s all done inside one pot and takes less than an hour to make. You can certainly make this recipe in a dutch oven or slow cooker, just plan on 7-8 hours. If you’re like me and are known to host impromptu social gatherings, the Instant Pot is a great way to make an insanely delicious meal that looks like it took hours of work in less than 60 minutes. That leaves me more time to enjoy the wine and food with friends and family!
 
Instant Pot Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
 
Instant Pot Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
 

SHORT RIB PASTA INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs bone-in short ribs or 1/5 lbs boneless short ribs
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Sonoma Spice Blend
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 25oz jar tomato sauce (high quality ingredients)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle crushed pepper (optional if you don’t want extra spice)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1lb Tagliatelle pasta (cooked per instructions till al dente)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup basil, freshly chopped for garnish

 

INSTANT POT DIRECTIONS:

 
  1. Using an instant pot, turn it to the sauté setting. While heating up, trim off excess fat and pat dry. Generously season with Sonoma Spice Blend.
  2. Once up to temperature, add the vegetable oil to the instant pot. Add the short ribs and sear on all sides until browned. Remove from pot and set aside.
  3. Add the chopped onion and garlic and continue to sauté until tender while scraping up the browned bits (this has tons of flavor!). Pour in the red wine and cook for approximately 2 minutes to deglaze the onion and garlic.
  4. Add the short ribs back to the instant pot followed by the tomato sauce. salt and optional chipotle crushed pepper. Add in 1/4 cup water OR add the water to the sauce jar, shake, and then pour into the instant pot (nothing goes to waste!). Set instant pot to the stew/meat setting for 35 minutes and once finished, let it naturally release the stem.
  5. While ragu is stewing, prepare the Tagliatelle pasta per the directions provided on the package. Cook to just al dente (firm to the bite, but not soft) as the pasta will continue to cook once removed from the heat. Drain and set aside.
  6. Once steam is all released, remove the lid and place short ribs on a cutting board. Trim off excess fat and remove any bones. Also, skim off any fat from the top of the instant pot then sauté again to thicken up the sauce. Once you’ve shredded the short rib, add back to the instant pot. Taste and sprinkle with salt & pepper if needed.
  7. To serve, plate first with the pasta followed by spoonfuls of braised short rib ragu and garnished with fresh parmesan and basil. 
 
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
 
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
 
There is so much to love about this red wine braised short rib ragu spooned over a heaping bowl of tagliatelle pasta. The rich tomato sauce pairs beautifully alongside the shredded short ribs and the authentic Italian pasta holds up the savoriness of the recipe while also being the perfect compliment to Arrowood Vineyards Proprietary Red Blend. The short ribs are seasoned with their custom Sonoma Spice Blend which contains dried black trumpet mushrooms, pink peppercorns, Espelette pepper, cocoa powder & additional herbs and spices. There is no hiding the fact that it gave the braised short ribs such wonderful flavor and paired perfectly with the savory aromas of the Proprietary Red Blend. It was forkful after forkful of serious goodness!
 
Red Wine Braised Short Rib Ragu Served over Tagliatelle Pasta
 
Don’t shy away the next time you see short ribs at the butcher! With a little bit of chopping, an Instant Pot, some Italian pasta and a bottle of wine, you’ve got yourself a culinary masterpiece that will really wow your family and friends. Cheers!
 

Dry farming isn't a new concept, but it has taken on renewed significance in the last decade. Plants can’t talk. But any gardener knows that if you listen and pay attention, your plants will tell you what they need.  Brown sunburned spots on the leaves say it’s getting too much sun. A lemony yellow tinge can mean too much water. A droopy stem is a plant’s way of saying “I’m thirsty.”

 
arrowood-vineyards-dry-farm
 
As a woman who makes her living crafting wine, Arrowood winemaker Kristina Shideler sees herself as a steward of the land. And she’s committed to letting her vineyards tell her what they want so she can craft great wine that’s also gentle on the environment.  
 
“It’s about catering to the specific vineyard blocks to get the best quality we can,” says Shideler. 
 
So Shideler is working with grapes from dry farmed vineyards and using new technology to create concentrated, intense Cabernet Sauvignon wines that are also better for the environment.
 

What is Dry Farming?

Dry Farm Arrowood Wine Vineyard
 
Dry farming simply means growing grapes without adding additional water. Throughout history, vignerons have dry farmed vines in Sonoma, Napa, and the Old World. People grew grapes where the soil and rainfall made it possible. It was a matter of necessity on many small family farms, where growers didn’t have the money or equipment to install elaborate irrigation systems. 
 
Frank Leeds says that’s what his uncle Roy Chavez did when they first started growing wine grapes in the Napa Valley in the 1920s. They didn’t call it dry farming back then, it was just how you grew grapes.  
 
“Guys weren’t running around with a bucket,” says Leeds, vice president of vineyard operations at Frog’s Leap Winery and co-owner of Chavez and Leeds Vineyards, which he runs with his daughter. “Now we’re down to less than 10 percent of us who dry farm.”
 
Raising a grapevine without added water forces it to be more self-sufficient. The plant must send roots deep into the soil to find water and nutrients it needs. “The vines are bigger stronger and more resistant to disease than irrigated grape vines,” Leeds said. “You’re so much healthier to get the roots down deep past the [diseases] that inhabit the top 18 inches of soil.”
 
But when vines are irrigated from a drip line, the roots stay shallow and concentrate near the easy source of water.  There’s no need for the plant to work, so it’s more vulnerable if that easy source of water dries up during a drought. 
 
Leeds, a past president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, says irrigation expanded in Sonoma and Napa as vineyards were planted in more challenging soils that weren’t ideal for growing grapes.  
 
But dry farming has come into focus as natural and biodynamic winemaking has become more popular, and young winemakers around the world revive older vineyards with strong deep-rooted vines. 
 
“If you use dry farm as a verb, not a noun, you can make your vines perform really well,” says Leeds. 
 

A Technical Solution

Thibaut Scholasch and Sebastien Payen Fruition Founders

Thibaut Scholasch and Sebastien Payen. Founders of Fruition Sciences.

 
But with hundreds of acres of vines, it’s tricky to know the status of every single one and how much water and nutrients it needs. That’s where innovations from a company called Fruition Sciences are allowing farmers to know exactly what’s happening inside the vine and when. The 10-year-old company founded by French scientists Thibault Scholasch and Sébastien Payen uses sap flow sensors and other technology that makes it possible for vineyards to keep the vine in balance and potentially increase yield while reducing water usage. 
 
“The theory behind precision farming is to match the site’s specific needs with any given input; we don’t want to oversupply the vines with too much of anything, including water,” says Shideler. “For high-quality Cabernet, the goal is to farm for smaller berries.” Small berries have a higher skin to juice ratio, so the wines have more complexity, concentration, and ability to age. 
 
Arrowood growers work with Fruition, as do Château Latour, Colgin, Viader and Wente Vineyards. In the spring, the team walks through a vineyard and places small sensors on each vine. The sensors allow vineyard managers to monitor how the sap is moving inside, the amount of nitrogen in the plant and when it’s time to reduce water so the vine concentrates on forming grapes rather than more leaves.
 
Fruition Dry Farming Cuff Sensor
 
“When we put the sensor on the vine, it's like a blood pressure cuff for the vine,” says Stephanie Zamorski Burk, head of field operations for Fruition. “It allows the vine to tell us if it’s experiencing environmental stress… and better determine what the vine needs.’’
 
On a hot day, the vineyard manager might assume that the vines are thirsty and need extra water. But the sap sensors let them know that the vines have enough moisture to sustain themselves.
 
A 2014 water usage study funded by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California found that using Fruition’s technology allowed a vineyard to reduce watering by 65 percent in blocks with sensors, compared to other blocks watered in a typical way. That worked out to 17 Olympic sized swimming pools or 8.5 million gallons of water. “We’ve had people who have been able to switch to dry farming practices,” says Brandon Burk, a data specialist with Fruition.
 

Old Vine Wine

Kristina in the Vineyard - Dry Farming

Shideler says using sensors in a Knights Valley vineyard block allowed them to dry farm there. “We went through the entire season with no water,” she said since it had more clay. “We found we got more concentration, more flavor and a lot better quality in the dry-farmed blocks.”
 
The fruit quality from that particular dry-farmed block in Knights Valley was so high that she’s now using the juice in one of Arrowood’s more exclusive Cabernet Sauvignon blends. 
 
Just by a quirk of fate, Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Arrowood’s block of the Monte Rosso vineyard is dry farmed.  The mature vines in the famed Monte Rosso Vineyard are planted at elevations ranging from 700 to 1,240 feet, so the vines have had to send roots deep into the poor rocky soil to find water and nutrients, creating the kind of stress that yields world-class wines. “When that particular block was planted, irrigation wasn’t standard practice and so the irrigation line was never put in,” says Shideler. 
 
And when Arrowood does irrigate, the water comes from Arrowood’s reservoirs that capture excess rainwater, rather than municipal sources. 
 
The trials they’re doing with dry farming, as well as organic and sustainable practices allow Shideler and her vineyard teams to identify more vineyard blocks that could thrive with less water in the near future. 
 
“I’m constantly thinking about both of those as the vines start to age and develop,” says Shideler. “It makes the vineyard able to produce for a longer period of time and be more resilient. Instead of replanting in 20 years that [vineyard] could be so well established that it could last for 100 years.”
 

Indulge your culinary senses with this delicious Prime Pairings recipe of Lamb Carpaccio Crostini topped with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction.

While the recipe name sounds like it belongs on high-end restaurants appetizer menu (and it does!), this was quite simple to make right in your home kitchen. The star of the show is the lamb carpaccio that is perfectly seasoned from the Arrowood Sonoma Spice Blend and pairs wonderfully with a bold wine like their Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve learned that by simplifying dishes really allows the ingredients to shine!

Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients:

.5lb Lamb Loin
2oz Arrowood Sonoma Spice Blend
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil + extra
6oz Fresh Blackberries
1 cup Water
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp Chives, chopped
Crostini or Crackers
 

Directions:

Heat a cast iron pan over medium high temperature. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and let heat.
 
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction
 
Meanwhile, apply a small amount of olive oil to the lamb loin and spread using a basting brush. Sprinkle spice blend over all sides of lamb loin and pat to ensure seasoning sticks to the meat.
 
Using tongs, carefully transfer lamb loins to the hot cast iron pan. Sear for 1 minute on all sides. Do not overcook, you are simply wanting to sear the outsides to create a crust. Transfer to plate and let cool inside the refrigerator. This will help you slice it very thin.
 
While the lamb loin is cooling in the fridge, prepare the blackberry balsamic reduction. In a saucepan, add 1 cup of water and 6oz of fresh blackberries. Macerate the blackberries with a wooden spoon and let cook over a boil for 8-10 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine colander into a bowl and then transfer back to the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil for another 5 minutes and then simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Be sure to keep stirring until you achieve the desired thickness.
 
In the meantime, once lamb has cooled, slice VERY thinly and roll to small pieces that will be placed on top of crostini or crackers. Drizzle with blackberry balsamic reduction and garnish with fresh chives.
 
Pair with Arrowood Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
 
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction
 
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

 

What I love most about this dish is the combination of the seared lamb loin with the blackberry balsamic reduction. The acidity of the reduction pairs wonderfully with the spice notes from the Arrowood Sonoma Spice Blend. This is the type of crostini recipe that you and your guests will keep coming back for more! As a home chef with no culinary training, this recipe truly isn’t hard to create. You end up letting the flavors of the spice blend and the blackberry reduction do all the work and your hardest job is to serve it up for your guests to enjoy. Cheers to simple, yet incredibly flavorful prime pairing recipes!
 
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction
 
Lamb Carpaccio Crostini with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction
 
 

I’ve always been intrigued by Bordeaux varieties and their ability to make profound and opulently textured wines, but my Malbec love affair really took hold during my time in Mendoza, Argentina.

Argentina and Beyond

Kristina Shideler Andes Mountains

In Mendoza, Malbec is celebrated as part of their cultural identity.  It has become synonymous with Argentine wine production, but its origin is actually attributed to France.  Malbec is one of the six allowed varieties in wines made from the Bordeaux region of France, with a long history of using the variety as a blender.  In France today, however, it is more commonly used in wines from the Cahors region of Southeast France.  While Argentina is responsible for 75% of Malbec plantings in the world, the variety can be found in several other winegrowing regions, including California.

The Malbec Wine Grape

Malbec Grape Variety

The grape is a dark inky purple color with thin skin and oval-shaped berries.  Its leaves are generally larger and floppier looking than the other Bordeaux varieties, and because of this, it’s generally easy to spot when walking through a vineyard.  The next time you visit the Arrowood Estate during late summer or fall, I encourage you to take a stroll through the estate vineyard and see for yourself!

Malbec Flavor Profile

Arrowood Estate Malbec

The wine also takes on a darker more purple hue, especially when young.  The aromatics are so distinct, it’s really fun to try and identify it in a blind tasting.  It typically has this inherent baking spice character of nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon.  It also takes on a lot of fruit character such as plum and blackberry, as well as violet and lavender when picked a bit earlier.  Because of this, I generally do not like to use a lot of new oak barrels; the aromatics are so beautiful, I want to express them in the purest form.  It tends to be less tannic than Cabernet, but offers a nice mid-palate weight and elegant structure that makes it very versatile and drinkable with a variety of foods.

Arrowood Sonoma County Malbec

Sonoma County Malbec

Although I love what Malbec offers to a blend, one of my favorite wines to make is our Sonoma County Malbec.  Arrowood is one of the only wineries in Sonoma County that offers a Malbec as a single variety wine, and we have a long history of doing so.  For the 2014, we sourced from two prime vineyard locations: Lasseter and Knights Cross vineyards.  Both of these sites have the perfect climate and soil match. Malbec enjoys long days of sunlight, but not too high of temperatures.  Soils must be well drained and homogenous, offering good concentration of flavors and even ripening.

How long can you age Arrowood Malbec? 

While it doesn’t have the lifespan of the Resérve Spéciale, I’ve have had the opportunity to try several bottles of Arrowood Malbec from the early 2000’s and they are still holding up with beautiful acidity and complexity.  My personal preference is between 5-10 years, and would not recommend aging beyond 15 years.  However, it is very interesting variety to track throughout aging, which is why we’ve kept a few bottles back each year in the Winemaker’s Library.  It changes from having a very distinct varietal expression to possessing very classic Bordeaux aromatics, that can often be mistaken for a Cabernet or Merlot.

Malbec + You = <3

For those of you who haven’t gotten to know Malbec, take some time to introduce yourselves.  I think you’ll like each other.  Enjoy a bottle on a nice fall evening with some grilled meats, or save for this winter to pair with the holiday fare. 

Cheers,
Kristina

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