The Notre Vue Blog is a wonderful resource filled with lifestyle and entertaining tips, winemaking ideas, recipes, wine pairings, and adventurous behind-the-scenes stories:
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 theystart 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, pleave 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!
Season’s Greetings to all! For those of you that joined us for our recent Holiday Party, it was great to see you all. Those of you that missed it, hang tight, there will be plenty more excitement coming in 2018 and we all look forward to seeing you then!
Harvest 2017 is in the house. All grapes are in, all fermentations complete (almost!) and most malo-lactic work is done. We’re busy racking the new wines off the gross lees, adjusting acidities as necessary and returning the young wines to clean barrels for aging.
Rarely is a wine bottled without some sort of blending taking place beforehand. Even the Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of two stainless steel fermented tank lots and a bit of barrel-fermented wine. The Rosé, too, is a blend of two different lots. But this is pretty much straight-forward blending. You want to use all the components so you do a trial blend and, if it tastes good, then off you go!
Blending the Notre Vue wines in particular, then the Balverne Cabernet and Pinot Noir wines, entails quite a bit more “art.” Let me walk you through my current thoughts regarding the Notre Vue Bordeaux blend.
Each month I taste through our whole inventory, lot by lot, watching the maturation process proceed and monitoring the wines for any issues that might need addressing immediately. Concurrently I am always thinking about the final blend and what might work best to create that wine. Does it look like Cabernet Sauvignon will continue to be the base of the blend? And, if so, what lot(s) will be selected for that purpose and in roughly what amounts? Or maybe Malbec is particularly strong. Might it be strong enough to be the base upon which I build the final blend? If so, that Malbec better be concentrated, balanced and loaded with fruit and strong tannins.
Winemaker Michael Westrick blending wines right from the barrel at our Winter Wonderland Holiday Party.
As those of you who barrel-tasted with us recently noted, it looks like Cabernet Sauvignon will again frame the blend for 2016. And that is by no means surprising even though the Malbec is superb! Cabernet is referred to a the “King of Grapes” for a reason. Our 2016 is powerfully concentrated, packed with dark berry fruit and graced with elegant tannins. And so I will start with Cabernet Sauvignon from Block 37 as the base. But how much? What percent of the final blend? And what will I add to that base? In what quantities?
As you might have gathered from above and from your tastings here, Malbec will certainly play a huge role in the 2016 blend. It is particularly lush and loaded with spicy, aromatic black fruit. Petit Verdot is commonly used in Bordeaux-styled blends to add structure and inky-dark color. Our 2016 Petit Verdot fits the bill perfectly and so will also play an integral part in the blend. Merlot? Cabernet Franc? How much new oak? What coopers will be included?
What does this all mean? And how will you actually “know?” The answer to those questions lies in the blending process. This is where art takes over from the science, where years of experience pays huge dividends. I will sit down in a room by myself, with samples of the components available, and literally start tasting trial blends of “some of this with a bit of that.” This is exactly like building a spaghetti sauce, starting with ground beef, adding tomato sauce, throwing in onion and garlic, adding basil or maybe oregano, fine-tuning with rosemary and thyme, and finally completing the sauce with a bit or salt and/or lemon juice. Exactly the same process in blending a wine but it takes much more time. After tasting a series of trial blends, I will then set up a series of new blends to taste, trying to hone in on that one blend that always surfaces as the best in each flight of trials. When that starts happening, I’m done!
Or am I? The next step is to take a sample or two home and taste the trial blends with food. Debbie will taste them with me, too, and offer thoughts. Does the blend work? Is it balanced? Does the tannin need adjusting? Are the aromatics attractive? Is the fruit strong and defined? And, the final question, does it taste good? Simple final question but not always easy to answer.
And so it goes. It may go quickly with the final blend appearing quite early in the process. In tougher vintages the trial blending may go on for weeks. Ultimately, one way or another, one blend will stand out as being the best. When that day arrives, when that best blend surfaces, we will physically assemble the parts in a big tank and “make the blend.” And that is a bit of a stressful day for a winemaker as there is no turning back once the blend is made.
I hope that gives you a bit of an idea of what the blending process entails. In 2018 we are hoping to offer a “Blending Seminar” here at the winery. This is something you do not want to miss as you’ll have a chance to work with five different wines and to come up with your own unique blend. We’ll then taste your blend against those of the other guests.
Will you be the next “Top Winemaker ?”
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!
Photos from our "Forever Wild" Tour de Cru event in August. Notre Vue Estate Winery & Vineyard opened its gates for guests to hike and bike along private trails that wind through its vineyards and “Forever Wild” Open Space. During the morning, guests were able to explore the diversity of the terroir that creates a rich tapestry of land and an array of grape varieties rarely found in such proximity to each other. At the Summit, hikers and bicyclists were rewarded with sweeping views of mount St. Helena to the east and to the west as far as the Pacific Ocean. Could not have asked for a more beautiful day! Thank you all for attending this year's Tour de Cru, we cannot wait until next year's TDC event! Click on image to view our photo gallery of the event.
BREATHTAKING. There are only a handful of experiences in life that can be described as such — A moment so awe inspiring that you take pause. In 1992, we were captivated by just such a moment, as we stood atop a ridge overlooking 710 acres of breathtaking, rolling hills of Sonoma countryside.
This incredible landscape forged over eons would one day become the Notre Vue Estate. Over the years, through foresight and determination, the vineyards of the estate have been planted and tenderly cared for and now include 18 varietals that are the foundaRon for our exceptional wines. The estate spans two world-‐class viticultural areas: the Chalk Hill appellation, with its ashy volcanic soils suited perfectly for Bordeaux varietals, and the ancient river bed of the Russian River appellation, ideal for Burgundian varietals. Preserving the natural beauty of the land has always been at the heart of our vision. For this reason our undulating vineyards weave through a much larger tapestry that now includes 350 acres of our estate that we have protected in perpetuity as open space land, preserving the beauty of Notre Vue for generations to come.
This synergy between vine and ecosystem creates a harmony that feeds our vines and supports the abundant wildlife as well as the natural flora and fauna. Today, standing here on that same ridge, Notre Vue Estate is a prominent winery and vineyard destination known for our authentic guest experiences sought after by loyal customers and wine enthusiasts worldwide. Our estate is a place where you can enjoy the beauty of vineyards or gardens, relish the natural environment and the beautiful vistas, appreciate the architecture and the overall rustic elegance along with the welcoming charm that are all a part of the essence that is Notre Vue Estate.
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