Monday, September 25, 2017

Starting an Exceptional Wine Cellar

Opening a bottle of wine that has aged for years in a wine cellar is one of the most exciting moments you can experience (in our opinion, anyway!) and you can't do that without a wine cellar. Collecting wine as opposed to buying wine gives you the opportunity to connect with each bottle and appreciate it more.

The first step in starting an exceptional wine cellar is having the ideal place to store all of your collections. If stored in poor conditions, wine can degrade quickly. The ideal conditions for a wine cellar should be cold and damp all year long, preferably 52℉ / 11℃ and 75% humidity.

Once you have the perfect location for your wine cellar you can move on to the fun part... Choosing your wine! The wines you decide to include in your collection reflect on your tastes and partiality. It is also a good idea to have a variety of wines including white and red, sweet and dry.

Research where your wines are from along with critic ratings, tasting notes, and retail price on each wine you consider adding. Sampling a single bottle of the wine before buying a case is a good way to ensure it will improve your collection. Looking into the winery's history and how long that particular wine is anticipated to age are also important when choosing a wine for your cellar.

Depending on the volatile nature of alcohol, wine does not last for centuries so it is extremely important to know how long the prime drinking window is for each wine you add to your cellar. This information will be crucial in drinking, trading, or selling your wines before they decline. Chardonnay based wines have a cellar life of about 10 years, Nebbiolo wines about 20 years, and vintage Port and Madeira wines at least 100 years.

Regardless of the value, amount, or age of the wines in your cellar, don't feel guilty for taking out a bottle to enjoy! The point of a wine cellar is to delight in your wines and share them with loved ones.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Tips on Pairing Wine and Cheese

Whether you need the perfect appetizer to serve at your get together, or you just LOVE wine and cheese (who doesn't?!) you shouldn't just put any wines with any cheeses. Certain cheeses enhance the flavor of certain wines and vice versa and it's important to know what to put with what. Here are some tips:

Keep the intensity of the wine and cheese on the same level
Don't put a delicate cheese, such as Gruyère with an intense wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. The bold taste of the wine will overpower the cheese. A good rule to follow to know what wines are what intensity is anything over 14.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) are more intense and anything under 12% ABV are less intense.

Aged cheese goes well with bold, red wines
Cheese becomes richer in flavor as it ages due to the increased fat content it develops as it looses water content. For this reason, aged cheese counteracts the high tannins found in bold, red wines which creates a delicious combination. Cheeses that have been aged at least one year, such as Manchego, Gouda, or Provolone pair well with bold, red wines like Merlot or Cabernet Franc.

Sweet wines and stinky cheeses are perfect together
Cheeses like Limburger, Livarot Munster, or Robiola Lombardia pair perfectly with sweet wines such as Moscato, Port, or Dessert wines because the sweetness in the wine makes the cheese taste creamy by balancing the funky taste. 

Cheese and wine from the same region should be kept together
Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese, both from Loire Valley, France; Chardonnay and Époisses de Bourgogne, both from Burgundy, France; and Garnacha and Manchego, both from Spain, are all great examples of wine and cheese that pair well together. Sometimes it's wise to just trust the local traditions.

A firm, nutty cheese is a good go-to when you're just not sure
With the right amount of fat to counterbalance tannin in red wine, and still the right amount of delicacy to compliment delicate whites, firm, nutty cheeses are a popular choice to pair with almost all wines. These cheeses include Swiss, Comté Extra, and Gouda.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Featured Wineries

Featured Wineries...

Our Featured Wineries are not only exquisite and beautiful places to visit, but we have additional pictures and information available on our Winery Profile pages. Click one of our Featured Wineries and read all about them!

Leslie and Joseph set out to create a complete guide for visiting wine country focusing on Napa and Sonoma wineries. H. Montanile™ is the wine lovers choice. From winery reviews, wine education and selection, places to stay, fun things to do and sample itineraries. H. Montanile™ brings you the complete wine country experience in one living site. We at H. Montanile™ can fulfill all of your wine country, gourmet food and fine wine needs.

Happy Tastings,
Leslie & Joseph Montanile

Keep checking our website for updated featured wineries!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Wine Crush & Harvest Festivals 2017 - Sonoma County

One of the best times to visit wine country is during the harvest and this year will be no different! During the sorting, stemming, crushing, and fermentation processes of the grapes, a lot of wineries encourage visitors to engage in the harvest and experience the fun first hand. Here are some of the activities planned for this year's harvest:

"Sonoma Valley Crush (Sept. 8 to 10, 2017)
Experience harvest, hands-on, as you enjoy a one-of-a-kind, behind-the-scenes look at every aspect from picking grapes, to crush, to fermentation. Interactive fun at more than a dozen wineries across Kenwood and Glen Ellen includes grape sampling in the vineyards, crush pad tours, and tasting fresh pressed juices like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. One exciting extra is tasting how a wine evolves while it's fermenting. Cost for a Crush Wine Tasting Pass is $35 ($45 at the door), bringing full access to harvest activities and wine tastings from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sonoma County Wine Auction (September 16, 2017)
Held at the beautiful new La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard in Russian River Valley, the fundraising gala features fine foods from chef Thomas Schmidt of John Ash & Co., and executive chef Justin Wangler of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. And it’s for a great cause: the Auction has raised $24 million for local Sonoma County charitable partners over the years. Mark your calendars for Sept. 15, too, as the auction kicks off with vintner dinners at top wineries across Sonoma County.

Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival (September 22-24, 2017)
It’s the 120th Anniversary of this party at the Sonoma Plaza. The festivities kick off on Friday, September 22 with a marvelous costume gala with tasting great wines and delicious food followed by dancing under the stars to live music. The fun keeps going throughout the weekend with Sip & Shop – wine tasting and artists showcase of more than 80 artists, a grape stomp competition, fire fighter demonstrations, “Get Your Glow On” Night Parade, live music and a Kids Zone.

Details: 453 1st Street E, Sonoma, 707-996-2109, www.valleyofthemoonvintagefestival.com. Tickets for the gala are $90-$125. 

Harvest Dinner at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards (September 23, 2017)
 Go behind-the-scenes on a tour with Mike Crumly, VP of Production, including a food and wine pairing featuring a very special library selection served in the grapevine covered arbor. Then, tuck into a seasonal harvest-inspired and wine paired supper, with live music.

Details: 23555 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, 707-996-7256, www.gloriaferrer.com. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; $150.

Harvest Dinner at Lambert Bridge Winery (September 30, 2017)
The winery is Architectural Digest beautiful, with the tasting room looking through a long wall of wood-framed glass into a barrel room glimmering with votive candles and glowing candlestick chandeliers. For the Harvest Party, guests get to go inside the barrel room, and also check out the crush pad, before sitting down to a lavish supper at communal tables on the lawn. It’s posh, with such delights as oyster tasting stations, but also relaxed, sometimes attended to by the very well behaved winery dogs.

Details: 4085 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-4675, www.lambertbridge.com. 5 to 9 p.m.; $175. 

43rd Annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair (October 6-8, 2017)
This annual event brings so much more than just showcasing award-wining wine and beautiful food. Attractions include educational demonstrations, a cooking competition, expanded interactive tastings, and a focus on local and artisanal products. The highlight remains the Grand Tasting, with three days of sampling from 100+ wineries, including the opportunity to purchase bottles at a Fair-direct discount. Don’t miss the marketplace tasting seminars where you can learn about farming wine grapes, winemaking, and wine appreciation, directly from the winery owners and winemakers. Another don’t miss: the World Championship Grape Stomp for messy fun and great prizes like cold, hard cash.

Details: Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, www.harvestfair.org. Prices vary per event. 

Landmark Vineyards Harvest Festival And Winemaker Seminar (October 7, 2017)
One of the delights of this lovely 20-acre estate in the foothills of the Mayacamas mountains is the tours that give you a sneak peek into the wine process. The strolls last about 15 minutes, passing right past the crush pad, with your guide narrating all along the way and explaining everything from the estate grape varieties, to trellising to winemaking. For this event, you can be the first to try new wine club releases, enjoy delicious food from local vendors, play a game of bocce ball, groove to live music, or just kick back and smell the rosés. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; $45. Start the day early, though, at 10:30 a.m., with an exclusive wine and cheese pairing seminar led by Landmark winemaker Greg Stach and cheese expert Sophie Boban-Doering. Learn about rare cheeses from around the world, and how match Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and library selections. 10:30 a.m. to noon; $60.

Details: 101 Adobe Canyon Rd., Kenwood, 707-833-0053, www.landmarkwine.com

D'Argenzio Winery and Tasting Room 22nd Annual Italian Country Harvest Party (October 7, 2017)
It’s a taste of Italy in downtown Santa Rosa, as the D'Argenzio family celebrates friends, new and old. The fun includes an Italian feast, a grape stomp, bocce, live music, dancing, and tastings. On tap: many newly released wines, and limited edition wines. Lots of wine, actually - last year, the winery opened 28 different types, yowza! Event time: 4 to 8 p.m.; $45.

Details: 1301 Cleveland Avenue, Suite A, Santa Rosa, 707-546-2466, www.dargenziowine.com

Dutton-Goldfield Harvest Party (October 21, 2017)
The celebration features new wine releases, food pairings, and an exclusive show by a local jewelry artist. Tastings are $25, or complimentary with a 3-bottle purchase.

Details: 3100 Gravenstein Hwy. North, Sebastopol, 707-823-3887, www.duttongoldfield.com. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.