Here you will find news, lifestyle and entertaining tips, winemaking ideas, recipes, wine pairings, and adventurous behind-the-scenes stories:
With Al Fresco season upon us, I thought I’d share a few entertaining tips for hosting your own outdoor wine tasting. I feel that culinary pleasure and entertaining with friends and family refreshes the soul, revives the spirit, and creates new memories!
This is a perfect time of year to lean toward lighter wines. I recommend our 2014 Notre Vue Estate White Wine, a beautiful blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. Perfect with Brie cheese, this wine is also an excellent accompaniment to sautéed sole and seared scallops. I would also suggest our 2017 Balverne Rosé of Pinot Noir Reserve, which is fabulous with a fresh goat cheese salad, as well as shrimp, crab or lobster.
Now the fun part begins – setting the table! I start with a fresh, white tablecloth, with a burlap runner. Staging your buffet table, roll crisp white napkins, tied with raffia or twine, with a sprig of lavender tucked into the tie. For nibbles, create different heights with 2 or 3-tiered serving platters. For a simple, outdoorsy feel, mason jars are a nice alternative to use for your floral arrangements.
Setting the ambiance with white bulb string lights and various heights of white (unscented) votives along with your favorite play list will get your guests glowing and relaxed.
Have your all-purpose wine glasses staged and ready to go. You’ll also want to have chilled water nearby, and plain water crackers to cleanse the palate. When pouring tastes of wine for guests, a good rule of thumb is a 2 -ounce pour for each tasting, but feel free to indulge with a bit more.
Feel free to share photos of YOUR Al Fresco Wine Tasting Party on our social media channels. We’d love to see your ideas too!
Executive Vice President, Notre Vue Estate
I learned that this weekend as Pam Bell from Dragonfly Floral patiently coached a group of twenty visitors (including myself and my colleague Tyffani) through the design of a Mother's Day bouquet, while Pete from Notre Vue Estate refilled our wine glasses with exquisite tastings of Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, and a white blend.
Sitting on the tasting deck, overlooking the pond swimming with geese and goslings, we learned how to trim, set, and arrange our flowers. That view, coupled with the fresh smell of roses and lavender, gave the whole experience an extraordinary feel. We even had some caterpillars join us for the fun!
Pam Bell has been in the floral design business for nearly thirty years. She calls flowers by name, and has an eye for placing stems perfectly in the vase. As we drank our wine and designed our own arrangements, Pam let us in on a few secrets of the business. Here are some tips we learned from her!
Pam's Tips on Floral Design:
• Always use fresh flowers, when possible, and preferably ones that haven't opened up yet
• Cut your flowers early in the morning, when the world is just waking up; the sugar balance in the plant is best
• Cut flowers at an angle, and place them immediately into water, so that they last longer
• Design your arrangement from the top and sides. This way, the bouquet will reflect its beauty from any angle!
• If working with hydrangeas, flip them over and soak them in water when they start looking lifeless; they'll come back to life
• When using a vase, try to use one with a flare at the top; the flowers naturally bloom that way!
• Use the ratio 2:3; 2-3 greens per every 3 flowers
To view more fabulous photos
of the event, please check out our
Floral Design & Wine Photo Gallery!
Here is the design that we worked with, and its accompanying recipe:
• 3 stems of dogwood
• 3 strands of viburnum
• 2 sparrieshoop (roses)
• 3 tulips
• 4-5 pinkish-orange roses
• 3 sprigs of lavender
Thank you Pam Bell and Notre Vue Estate for an incredible start to our Mother's Day celebrations. Looking forward to the next one!
Thank you for joining us for Winter WINEland last weekend - the perfect winter escape to taste current vintages and multiple varitals along Wine Road – Northern Sonoma County! Participants got to taste current releases of both Balverne and our exclusive, limited production Notre Vue Wines in our transformed Winter 'Wineland' tasting room. Click on the image to view photos from the event. We look forward to seeing you again soon!
But, seriously, folks, “What wine goes best with turkey, in my opinion as a winemaker?” Balverne and Notre Vue! ‘Nuf said! OK, OK . . . here are my thoughts in a little more detail.
If you haven’t tasted the Balverne 2016 Rosé of late, what better time? This is a perfect aperitif wine and pairs beautifully with a multitude of appetizers. So, too, the 2016 Balverne Sauvignon Blanc. Both offer strikingly fruity flavors, rich body and nice acidity. My caution? Have a few extra bottles on the ready as this stuff will go fast!
While both the Rosé and the Sauvignon Blanc can accompany turkey beautifully, also consider Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Chardonnay pairs terrifically with mushrooms believe it or not, so works well with mushroom soups, gravies or sauces and alongside turkey stuffing with wild mushrooms. The wonderful pear and ripe apple notes of Chardonnay love crispy turkey skin, too! It’s a holiday so splurge for the 2014 Notre Vue White Blend. This wine offers a blend of Viognier, a very flowery, fruity wine with the lushness of Chardonnay in royal style that will stand up to juicy turkey. For those of you inclined to go “red,” the classic strawberry, black raspberry and cola characters of Balverne’s Pinot noir wines are a perfect match for roasted turkey and accentuate the perfumed complexity of stuffing seasonings and cranberry sauces.
Those of you preferring wild roast duckling or duck breast for your feast can’t go wrong with Balverne’s Pinot Noir but if you want to be a bit more adventurous, pair this with Notre Vue’s 2104 Rhone blend, a wine focused on spicy, peppery, Syrah wines for a real treat! Big and bold, with hints of a gamey character, this is perfect match with wild duck, pheasant and rabbit.
Prime rib, baked broccoli with a cheddar cheese sauce and pan-roasted garlic potatoes? Yup, grab that Cabernet Sauvignon! Balverne’s 2014 Chalk Hill Cabernet is delicious right now, big and bold, packed with black cherry and wild berry notes. Those of you grilling a slab of prime rib over hot coals should consider Notre Vue’s 2014 Bordeaux Blend. The lush black cherry notes of the Malbec work synergistically with the herbal black fruit flavors of the Cabernet, with just enough tannin to help carry the beef’s fatty marbling. A special wine for a very special occasion.
Whatever your choices, on behalf of all of us here at Notre Vue, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. We would be honored to be a part of your celebrations through the sharing of great Notre Vue and Balverne wines.
Be safe this holiday season!
Winemaker Michael Westrick along with Phenix Wine Distributors held a wonderful winemaker dinner reception for the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, Ca. Our premium award winning estate Balverne wines were served including: the 2016 Balverne Rose of Pinot, 2013 Balverne Pinot Noir, 2016 Balverne Savignon Blanc, 2014 Chardonnay, and the 2012 Chalk Hill Cabernet all deliciously paired with a four course meal. The menu consisted of delectable dishes such as chanterele mushrooms, diver scallops, Maine lobster rissoto, and New York beef pavé. Michael poured and educated guests about Balverne's history and our committment to sustainability as the sun set over the Marina. Here are some photos of this fabulous event.
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