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:
Harvest 2018 is underway! The first of our Balverne Sauvignon Blanc grapes came in this morning in stunning fashion. We’ve had a beautiful growing season to date with just a bit of a cool snap for the last week or so. While sugars might not accumulate rapidly in the cooler weather, the flavors do continue developing, the result being that I found this year’s Sauvignon Blanc ready to harvest at lower Brix levels (sugar content) than usual.
Why is this good? Because it translates to lower alcohols in the finished wines. You may have heard the adage that “wine grapes benefit from a long hang time.” That means the longer the grapes hang on the vine, the greater the chance flavors will be more concentrated in the fruit at harvest, resulting in a more flavorful wine. While we’re blessed in California with beautiful, warm summers, the heat can sometimes be a little too much of a good thing making sugar accumulation (and therefore potential alcohol levels) run ahead of flavor development. The ideal situation, obviously, is to have maximum flavor development just as the grapes reach that magical sugar content.
For me as a winemaker, a lower alcohol is important as it helps keep the wine “in balance.” Put another way, a wine with an excessively high alcohol will taste “hot” or have an alcohol “bite” to it that may not be pleasing, and that higher alcohol may mask some of the more delicate fruity and floral notes of a wine. Sauvignon Blanc, known for its lighter body and bright, crisp fruit aromas and flavors, most definitely benefits from these lower alcohol levels.
Any winemaker anywhere in the world will always tell you without skipping a heartbeat that “This vintage is the best we’ve ever seen!” Well, you know what, I’ll say that right now about Balverne’s 2018 Sauvignon Blanc. And we haven’t even made the wine yet! Make a note on your calendars to visit Notre Vue Wine Estate in April of next year to taste Balverne’s 2018 Sauvignon Blanc. Trust me, you’ll be stunned! And happy you visited!
Keep tuned to this blog to hear about our upcoming Pinot Noir harvest. The weather for the foreseeable future is ideal and the Pinot Noir grapes are already tasting simply fantastic. In fact, I’m thinking this vintage will be the best we ever seen!
A votre santé, mes amis!
At least once a year a winery is faced with the challenge of bottling its wine as it is pretty hard to sell it otherwise. Admittedly this should not be a big deal and generally it isn’t. But bottling is not without its inherent pains and worries. Its not a part of winemaking that any winemaker enjoys. Or is it?
As we gear up to bottle our Balverne Chardonnay and Pinot Noir here at Notre Vue this fall, we’re attending to lots of little details and making sure everything is in place for a successful bottling run. We have our labels, corks and capsules. Glass supposedly arrives next week. We are scheduled to bottle just after the glass arrives. All this is carefully choreographed so that everything comes together perfectly and all on time.
We need to make sure the wine is ready, too. Following any final blending we will address the acidity along with the level of residual sugar and adjust each as necessary. The wines will be cold stabilized to prevent them from throwing tartrate crystals and will be heat stabilized to prevent protein hazes from developing. Fining might be done to soften tannins and/or to remove bitter components from the wine. One last decision to be made will be whether or not to filter.
Once the wine is ready and the materials arrive, its time to bottle. Again, this should be pretty straight-forward. How complicated can it be? You fill a bottle, cork it, label it and pack it away, right? Well, yes, that is the ideal scenario. But what if the wine is too cold and moisture is condensing on the outside of the bottle such that the labels won’t stick? What if we’re under- or over-filling bottles? What if the labeler is not cooperating and your margins are off meaning the labels are not centered? Or the labeler is skipping every third bottle? Or the filler is skipping every third bottle? Or some bottles are missing capsules? Or the wrong labels are being used? Or the filter fails? I could go on and on but you get the idea. “Best laid plans, yada, yada, yada!”
But once this necessary evil is complete, however challenging it might have been, the bottling line cleaned up and the exhausted crew headed home, you sit at your desk finishing up paperwork and look up at a few samples of the day’s bottlings each with perfect capsules, straight labels and all filled with delicious wine ready for wine lovers everywhere . . . life is suddenly all good again. Grab a bottle . . . I think you’ll agree!
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!
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.
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.
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