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Wine Wednesday – Flatiron Steak Sandwich + 2016 Essere Franco Estate Grown Malbec

Greetings from Napa!

Oh, how I wish I could bring you to this beautiful valley right now.  The sun is shining, the vines are growing, and we have a winner to announce!  I am very pleased to introduce Paige, the winner of our S-I-P Recipe and Pairing Contest!  Paige is a California native with loads of experience in winemaking, wine tasting, and I think you’ll agree, wine pairing.  Here is what she had to say about her winning combination:

“For my recipe contest submission, I’ve decided to write up the perfect pairing for your silky smooth 2016 Estate Malbec. The Malbec is bold and delicious! It showcases a wonderful combination of dark fruit and rich tannins, with a soft and supple mouth feel that lingers on the palate. After tasting this alluring wine, I knew I had to come up with a pairing that would match its decadent flavor. That is why I’ve created a new twist on the steak sandwich! I’ve created an indulgent Spinach and Artichoke spread for this recipe in order to match and enhance the character of the Malbec! I hope you enjoy this recipe!”

Couldn’t agree more Paige, I certainly enjoyed it!  Not only did her recipe give me an excuse to fire up the grill, the smokiness of the steak was a perfect match for the toasty oak and cocoa notes in our 2016 Essere Franco Estate Grown Malbec.  This Malbec comes from our Las Cerezas vineyard in Yountville, and that moderate climate leaves the wine bursting with sumptuous flavors of blueberry and blackberry, a stellar combination for the the gouda and artichoke spread.  Easy and delicious, two things I’m learning to value more and more these days! So get out on that patio, start the grill, and enjoy this amazing Malbec.

Want to pair with a pro? Schedule a Virtual Tasting with us today!

Essere sani

Wine Wednesday: Herbed Chèvre Tart with 2018 Essere Franco Rosé of Malbec

Bonjour from Napa!

Pardon my French, but this week’s wine and recipe bring me straight back to Paris.  I’ll never forget the summer that my graduate thesis advisor and I both happened to be doing research at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.  Since my stipend was quite meager, I was living largely off of breakfast cereal munched hastily in my hotel room.  Hearing this one hot afternoon, she generously treated me to one of the loveliest meals I have ever enjoyed.  In a small café a few blocks from the archive, we sipped rosé and nibbled the plat du jour: a gorgeous chèvre tart topped with olive oil and fresh herbs, with a spring salad on the side.  I was so stuffed afterwards that I am sure my work suffered, but I was not going to let one bite of that tart go to waste.  There hasn’t been anything quite like it since, but as soon as I took my first sip of our 2018 Essere Franco Rosé of Malbec, I was there again, happily devouring goat cheese in Paris with my advisor.  That’s when I knew I had to find a recipe to match this luscious wine!

Our rosé is unique in part because it is purpose built.  Whereas many wineries treat their rosé as a happy by-product of red-wine production, our winemaker sets aside some of our estate-grown Malbec specifically for this wine.  Bolder and less acidic than many rosés of Pinot Noir that are now en vogue, this is a refreshing divergence from what has become the Napa norm.  You could almost call it a summer red, and that is why it goes so well with a rich goat-cheese tart.  The fats from the pastry crust and chèvre pull tannin off of the palate, leaving you free to revel in the fruit profiles of the wine – all mouthwatering strawberry and red currant.  For those adventurous souls out there, try scattering ripe nectarine slices over the top of your tart and voilà – stone fruit notes in the rosé will surprise and delight you. 

Since we are seeing things through rosé-colored glasses this season, for a limited time we are offering a Glasses of Rosé special: enjoy three bottles of our 2018 Essere Franco Rosé of Malbec for $99 (normally $45 each).  Want to taste the rosé alongside some of our other show-stopping wines with the guidance of a pro?  Check out our Virtual Tasting Packages and schedule a tasting with your favorite Essere personality by emailing info@esserefranco.com or calling us at 707-339-8019.

Also, don’t forget to join in the Wine Wednesday fun by submitting your recipe and Essere pairing to me at brianna@esserefranco.com today!  All submissions will be entered to win a three-pack of our legendary Proprietary Red Wine, a $675 retail value!  Today is the last day to enter, and I’ll be featuring the winner in next week’s Wine Wednesday post.

Cheers everyone and, of course, essere sani.

Recipe courtesy of Epicurious

Image courtesy of Woman & Home

Wine Wednesday: Pan-Seared Scallops & Kumquats + 2017 Essere Franco Sauvignon Blanc

Welcome back to Wine Wednesday!  This week we venture to the lighter side of Essere Franco with Phil, our resident somm and master experience guru.  Phil pairs our 2017 Essere Franco Sauvignon Blanc with Pan-Seared Scallops and Kumquats, and tasting the two together almost makes quarantine life bearable for an evening! 

The key to any good pairing is matching the weight and texture of your wine with those of the food.  Our creamy, oak-aged SB teams up perfectly with sea scallops and their rich, velvety consistency: combined, the two melt seamlessly onto your palate with a smooth, but fresh, finish. When it comes to flavor, matching is again as key to a good pairing as it is to Phil’s wardrobe.  The light tang from the thinly sliced kumquats brings out citrus notes in an otherwise very tropical flavor profile, giving the wine a light feel despite its rich texture.  My recommendation: chill the Sauvignon Blanc in an ice bucket while you nibble on your scallops out on the patio.  In fact, you might want to keep a bottle in the fridge too just in case!

Don’t forget to submit your Shelter-in-Place recipes using #SIPessere or by emailing me at brianna@esserefranco.com.  Every entry is a chance to win a three-pack of our famous Proprietary Red Blend ($675 retail value).   If you’d like a chance to taste your SB with a pro, email us at info@esserefranco.com and we will put together a Virtual Tasting package for you and your friends and family to enjoy this summer!

Until next week,

Essere sani

Wine Wednesday : Shaun’s Port and Bay Steak with 2016 Essere Franco Cabernet Sauvignon

I am so excited to introduce Shaun Mesher, one of the partners of Essere Napa.  Based in Alberta, Canada, Shaun is a true wine and food enthusiast. He first experienced wine tasting in the Napa Valley in 2006 and fell in love with the area, the culture and the industry. But with a PhD in organic chemistry and a degree in biochemistry, Shaun’s passion for wine goes beyond simple taste and enjoyment to the science behind creating fantastic wines.

The opportunity to acquire Essere Wines came about through Shaun’s network in Napa. His infectious enthusiasm for winemaking, together with his solid entrepreneurial track record, were such that he successfully persuaded a number of his friends and relations to invest with him in Essere Wines.

Shaun is committed to creating beautiful wines thoughtfully, responsibly and scientifically, and I am overjoyed to share his recipe with you!  He says, “I’ve used this method of cooking steak many times when I am not social distancing, but it is an easy steak to do by yourself.  You’ll be amazed by the way the steak is beautifully tender.”  He also gave me some pro tips: “my favorite cut for this recipe is the rib-eye, tender and full of fat that renders very nicely in the oven. You will need enough steak for the number of people you are cooking for (up to 2lb, up to 6 people).  Access to a BBQ is a plus.”  He recommended that we pair this delicious steak with our 2016 Essere Franco Cabernet Sauvignon, and I simply cannot wait to try it.  What are you waiting for?

Tasting in the Home: How Your Five Senses Bring Pleasure to the Wine You Drink

When I was young and growing up in Colorado, the really spectacular flowers would bloom only in the small space of time between late spring freezes and the hot, dry summer months. When they did, my mom and I would walk up and down the streets of our neighborhood looking at the flower beds people had planted, but I knew that we were really looking for one flower in particular: lilac. When my mom spotted a full bush of lilacs in bloom, her eyes would light up and she would bee-line straight for them. Eyes closed, face raised to the hanging blooms, she would say simply: “this is my favorite smell in the entire world.” To this day, if I smell a lilac bush, I can see her face, smiling up as she breathed them in. To me, lilacs mean one thing: my mother.

One of the reasons that wine is so enjoyable is that it captures all of your senses and pulls once-lost memories, feelings, and people back to us. Wine grapes are so special because they can encompass, in one single berry, smells and flavors that we have been enjoying our entire lives. We do not put chocolate-covered cherries in our Essere Mi Red Blend, yet every time I raise a glass of it to my nose I see my stepfather, munching happily on bonbons every Christmas. When we take the time to move through a wine step-by-step, using each of our senses in turn, we can connect with ourselves more deeply, as well as with those whom we share it. By following a few easy steps, you can turn wine drinking into wine savoring, wine sniffing into aromatherapy, and wine pairing into a work of art.

Wine Wednesday

Hello friends! Thank you for joining us in our very first Wine Wednesday post! Over the next few weeks, we at Essere will bring you Shelter-in-Place pairing ideas from our partners and staff to give you a little added inspiration for your own creations. Post a recipe along with your Essere pairing recommendation using the hashtag #SIPessere, or email your pairing ideas to me at brianna@esserefranco.com, and we’ll pick a favorite to feature here and on social media on May 20th. Everyone who submits will be eligible to win a three-pack of our Essere Franco Proprietary Red, so have some fun and you can drink on us!

This week’s recipe comes from yours truly – Brianna – a brand new member of the team at Essere Napa. Nice to meet you!

Due to my mother’s insistence on pretending as though my apartment is actually a bomb shelter, I relied largely on non-perishable ingredients found in my emergency supply cupboard (read = my normal, everyday pantry) and on leftovers to create an Aperitivo Plate. All of the flavors brought out something special about the 2011 Essere Franco Proprietary Red Blend, which is really starting to stretch its legs. Of course, because my boyfriend and I had SUCH a nice time enjoying the 2011, we also popped a 2012 Essere Franco Proprietary Red Blend (known cutely as “prop red” to us office hooligans), and that made us quite happy as well. Members, if you were lucky enough to order a vertical of our “prop reds” this spring, consider opening the wines and comparing how the different components on the plate work with the different vintages. I, of course, didn’t have an entire vertical or we would have been doing so as well (please, no judging during quarantine).

I hope you enjoy making an evening special by digging into your Essere and cannot wait to see what you are trying at home!

Cheers,

Brianna & the Essere Team

A Little Spring in Our Step

The 2020 vintage has officially begun, and it is lifting spirits across the valley.

Finally, 2020 is starting to give me something to hope for. As new leaves and shoots emerge from once-dormant vines, my colleagues and I are using every spare opportunity to take in the beauty and importance of this important stage in a vine’s growing cycle.

Bud break starts as soon as the tips of new leaves, slowly growing inside buds of the vines as temperatures rise, become visible to the naked eye. Typically certain regions of the valley would experience bud break in late March, but over the past five years the leaves have appeared as early as the first week of February in the valley’s southernmost AVA of Los Carneros.

While the timing of bud break varies widely across cultivars, microclimates, and soil types, Napa Valley is seeing warmer temperatures in late winter, bringing the vines out of dormancy earlier than many wine growers would like. Early bud break risks frost damage to new leaves and shoots, and can reduce the yield of a particular vintage or variety drastically. Growers have a few tools and strategies at their disposal when it comes to preventing frost damage to fragile new growth. Huge wind machines, often powered by aircraft engines, dot the valley’s vineyards and often churn to life in the wee hours of the morning to move air around the vines and prevent frost from settling. I had the pleasure of living about 100 yards from one of these last year, and after being convinced that someone had started a fighter jet in my bedroom at 4 AM, I quickly moved to a more serene location so that my cat and I could each avoid having an early-morning heart attack.

This rather crude approach aside, most growers will agree that the best way to prevent frost damage is to delay early growth in the vines through responsible viticulture. Delayed or staggered pruning practices can help growers keep vines asleep longer, and the selection of well-placed sites for vineyards can lessen the chance for temperatures that are too low for the vines. For instance, due to a late pruning in January, our vineyards did not experience bud break until the last week of March.

So it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief folks. While we are expecting some rain and cooler temperatures over the weekend, the vines are looking great and our vineyard team has managed the frost well. We cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store for us next. It has to be really, really good . . . right?

Cheers folks, stay healthy out there!

Click here to view the Napa Valley Vintner’s vintage reports, and follow along with trends in the valley.

Tre Amici: perfecting the art of the cutting board.

Here at the Verismo Estate, we have a world class wood shop that Frank and our resident artist Sandi Crist utilize to create works of art that double as functional serving and cutting boards. If you have had the privilege of participating in one of our garden and wood-shop tours, then you are aware of how special this place is. Frank sources exotic woods from across the globe such as purple heart, zebra wood, lace wood, and osage orange to name a few, to create their one-of-a-kind cutting boards.

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Tre Amici is Italian for three friends, and was formed by Frank, Larry, and Sandi. They originally began making exotic wooden cutting boards as a hobby, but as their work got out there and orders started coming in, they turned it into a small business. Cutting boards became a launch pad for other designs such as custom lazy susans, cigar ash trays, wine stands, and furniture. View some of their work in our gallery below and if you would like to schedule a tour or if you are interested in your own custom project please fill out the following form:

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Stay tuned for updates on what the Tre Amici are creating. In our next blog post I will discuss their process and inspiration behind their cutting boards and other creations.

And as always, thank you for being a part of our story.

Spring Wine Club

Being able to reconnect with club members makes wine club season one of our favorite times of the year! We consider our wine club family, and we have built an exclusive club based off this truth and principle. Being a young brand, we are reaching very important milestones along our fresh journey, so it is fun to be able to share progress made with everybody as we continue to grow. By recently receiving great scores from Robert Parker and participating in Premiere Napa Valley, we have built a bit of momentum heading into this year that we plan on taking advantage of. We are pleased to announce that our Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are now on the menu at Galpao Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse in Napa, and you can now buy our Chardonnay at Mill Valley Market in downtown Mill Valley, located in the heart of Marin County. We have a lot of exciting plans in the works for this year that we look forward to sharing with you as they develop. In this spring wine club we are releasing our 2014 Essere Franco Cabernet Sauvignon. With it’s dense purple color, this Coombsville Cab exudes dark berries and is lush, intense, and pure. The early reviews are in, and they are great! Thank you for visiting our blog, and by being a part of our story.

Breaking Bud

Our Petit Verdot in Oak Knoll is starting to experience signs of bud break, an exciting but potentially nerve wrecking time as this is still considered early and a few frosty nights could be in the forecast in the next few weeks. If you are driving up valley and hear what might be a struggling small airplane near your car, fear not, it is most likely farmers testing their frost fans. The warm weather we experienced in February helped kick our vines into spring mode and it seemed that all of us in the valley were scrambling to prune in time for early bud break. We are in the hands of Mother Nature at this point, and with early bud break comes early bloom, leaving the door open for a higher risk of wind and rain damage for potential fruit. As growers we consider all potential speed bumps as the seasons change, so it is safe to say we are cautiously optimistic when bud break knocks on our door. But as we view this seasonal shift through a farmers lens, it is also fun to look ahead and predict the conditions that would create the perfect vintage. Years from now, what will be thought of a 2017 Napa Valley Cab? Only time will tell, so stay tuned and lets all enjoy the ride!

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