Tag Archives: wine and food

A memorable pairing with 2012 Kenzo Murasaki #winePW

Kenzo Murasaki

As part of this year’s “Open That Bottle Night 2017” event, we decided to open a bottle of 2012 Kenzo Murasaki and pair it with bacon wrapped Filet Mignon. We imagined it was going to be a good pairing, but it was one of the most memorable pairings we have done, one for the books!

Open That Bottle Night is an annual national event every last Saturday of February, dedicated to making sure that those bottles of fine wine put away for a special occasion, are used and enjoyed. The event was organized in 2000 by “Tastings” columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. In a way, it is a day declared to make sure that you indeed find that “special occasion.” This year we looked at our cellar and decided that we were going to venture in opening one of our most prized bottles.

 About Kenzo Murasaki


2012 Kenzo Murasaki is a proprietary red blend made by famous Napa Valley winemaker Heidi Barrett. The 2012 vintage of Murasaki is a Merlot prominent Bordeaux blend. This blend has Merlot (75.6%), Cabernet Sauvignon (18.9%), Cabernet Franc (2.4%) and Petit Verdot (3.1%). Murasaki represents nobility and elegance. This wine offers intense well-integrated oak aromas, blackberries, currants, violets, rose petals, leather, tobacco, coffee bean, cinnamon, and dark chocolate with lingering notes of black pepper, tart cranberry and medium tannins on the palate. This is an outstanding wine with great ageability at a suggested retail price of $250.

About the pairing



We paired Murasaki with Filet Mignon wrapped in bacon and topped with caramelized onions. Following a recipe from Ina Garten, we cooked the onions in a bit of brandy. To add insult to the injury, we had it with truffle fries. Magnifique! A meal like this you don’t pair with any wine. Then again, Murasaki deserves no less. The marriage of flavors is a play in your palette. The pleasant tannins from the wine were a perfect compliment to the richness and tenderness of the Filet Mignon, and both food and wine enhanced each other.


About Kenzo Estate Winery


Edgar Solís Photo

Kenzo Estate Winery is located on the slopes of Mt. George, in the southeastern part of Napa Valley. The Estate lies hidden in the upper meandering ways of Highway 121. A scenic pathway through unspoiled preserved areas and Leoma Lake leads the way to breathtaking rolling hills planted with perfectly manicured vines. This beautiful Estate it is worthy of a visit by every wine lover.

Kenzo Estate exquisite wines are the result of the convergence of three major influences: fruit expression, careful vineyard management, and masterful winemaking. In the winery is nestled in a valley at 1,550 feet, the Estate encompasses 3,800 acres, of which only four percent is dedicated to the growing of Bordeaux varietal wine grapes.

Napa Valley wines distinguish themselves from many others around the world. Unique terroir gives this American Viticultural Area the advantage among many others. It is refreshing to see Estate Wineries taking a different approach to grape growing. Wine connoisseurs know that mountain and valley fruit provide different characteristics and nuances to wines; derived from differences in altitude, sun exposure, and geologic soil content. Not only the location of this Estate distinguish the wines, but cultural influences in the approach of treating the grapes, its surroundings and winemaking makes Kenzo Estate Winery unique in beauty and quality.

Estate Experience


The Estate fruit expression is the result of the estate’s elevation, cool climate, and extended growing season. Harvest at Kenzo Estate occurs later than Valley vineyards, where temperatures are often warmer. Mountain vineyards also benefit from a wider diurnal temperature difference. Longer growing period allows evenly ripening while higher diurnal temperatures help with acid preservation.

Carrying the fruit for a few extra weeks allows the Kenzo Estate vines time to complete the complex process toward ideal maturity. Each block is planted to maximize the vine’s varietal characteristics with ideal soil and individual care that reflects the high quality of the wines offered by the Estate.

A visit to Kenzo Estate starts with a warm greeting and a glass of Asatsuyu, a crisp and delicate Sauvignon Blanc. The visit includes a ninety minutes wine tasting and tour of the grounds and wine cave. The beautiful and elegant Tasting Room embraces its surroundings in a balance between nature and architecture, filling you with awe and anticipation. While you taste a glass of Asatsuyu, you get to enjoy a walk among the Estate vines and a visit to state-of-the-art white and red wine production facilities, constructed in the style of traditional California barn.

Your visit continues at the wine cave, where the wine aging magic happens. The cave entrance sits directly behind the winery structures, in balance with the surrounding landscape. Inside, French oak barrels are lined up with precision, lent to a detailed method of inspecting wines during aging. Sitting in peace the Estate wines get to rest and age undisturbed for up to twenty months in new and used French oak barrels.

Back in the Tasting Room, you get to sip through more Estate wines while enjoying you’re the view of the vineyards.

About Kenzo’s Winemaker


Winemaker Heidi Barrett (Edgar Solís Photo)

Kenzo Estate celebrated Winemaker Heidi Barrett, brings her signature wine style honoring the sense of place and respecting vineyard heritage and vintage personality, she draws on her intuitive connection with Kenzo Estate, which began as a youth when honing her equestrian skills on the mountain trails.

Heidi Barrett grew up in the Napa Valley, and is the daughter of California winemaking pioneer Richard Grant Peterson. Heidi even spent much of her childhood riding horses in Wild Horse Valley, today’s Kenzo Estate. After graduating from U.C. Davis in 1980 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fermentation Science, she went to work for Justin Meyer at Franciscan Vineyards and Silver Oak Cellars.

In 1988, Heidi took her talents to the next level as Winemaker for Dalla Valle, by creating wines that achieved “cult” status. Her powerful, yet elegant, Cabernets from Dalla Valle Vineyards, including “Maya”, a proprietary blend, received perfect 100 point scores in two consecutive vintages (’92 and ’93) from Robert Parker. In 1992, she began making wine for Screaming Eagle. The 1992 and 1997 vintages garnered perfect 100 point scores from Parker as well, which, when added to the two perfect scores at Dalla Valle, established her on a level that few winemakers ever achieve.

In 2000, a 6-liter bottle of the 1992 Screaming Eagle set a world record for the highest price ever paid for a single bottle of wine at the Napa Valley Wine Auction, selling for $500,000. Robert Parker proclaimed her the “The First Lady of Wine”, and TIME magazine dubbed her “The Wine Diva of Napa Valley”.

Check out what other special bottles of wines our fellow #WinePW bloggers opened during Open That Bottle Night 2017:

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm  will post “How #OTBN happens while on vacation in Dominica

Jen from Vino Travels will share “Baked sausage rigatoni with Vignavecchia Chianti Classico Riserva

Sue from A Palatable Pastime is pairing “Pork Carnitas with Saint Cosme Cotes-Du-Rhone

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog is writing about “South of the Border for Open That Bottle Night

Cindy from Grape Experiences is posting “Wine and Dine: Two New Zealand Pinot Noirs and One-Pan Chicken

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is pairing “Red Wine Chorizo + 1994 Argyle Reserve Oregon Pinot Noir

Nancy from Pull That Cork will post “Our OTBN Celebration: The Château Léoville-Las Cases Stole the Show

Lori from Dracaena Wines is sharing”Wine is in Boxes. It’s OTBN. Still turned out to be a night not to miss”

Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will post “Batting A Thousand for OTBN Vol 8- A Celebration With Friends

Jill from L’occasion is opening “A Gigondas from the Cellar

Gwendolyn from Wine Predator is posting “Cheers to Open That Bottle Night 2017 with Champagne from Bollinger

David from Cooking Chat is posting “Shiitake Beef Stew with a Special Wine

Barrel Auction Napa Valley 2015


Great wine tasting experience at Barrel Auction Napa Valley 2015. Hall Wines Winery in St. Helena was the backdrop for an amazing wine and food tasting event this year. Great meet and greet with media around 10:00 a.m. at the historic Bergfeld winery building. Delicious breakfast paired with Robert Mondavi Rosé and bubbly from Domaine Chandon. Owners of Hall Winery Craig and Kathryn Hall welcomed press members along with Honorary chairs from the Opus One Winery, lead by Vintner David Pearson and Winemaker Michael Silacci.

Hall Wines offered a great experienced at their amazing property in St. Helena. A mix of historic winery architecture (Bergfeld Winery Building) and their modern state of the art Gold LEED Certified production facility. Visitors have the opportunity to stroll around buildings and huge tents full of quality Napa Valley wines and the best expression of local cuisine. The Napa Valley Vintners members offered a great selection of local wines to taste including the exclusive selections just produced for The Napa Valley Vintners wine auction.

Among the great wine selections to taste: Schramsberg classic California sparkling wine and J. Davis beautiful Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. At the barrel auction tasting, stellar Cabernet Sauvignon selections from Chateau Boswell, Cliff Lede, Ehlers Estate, Baldacci, Frank Family, Trinitas, Melka Wines, Shafer, Beaulieu Vineyard, Paradox, Pine Ridge, Truchard Vineyard, Robert Mondavi, Amici Cellars, Round Pond, Alpha Omega, Amizetta Winery, Darioush and Far Niente. A beautiful 100% Merlot from Coho and great 100% Pinot Noirs from Acacia, Artesa and Saintsbury, beautiful Carneros fruit. Trinchero offered an outstanding Malbec and William Hill an unfiltered well crafted Chardonnay. This year we missed the noise from the manual barrel auction bids, they gave away to digital big screens. All for technology these days, that is the way of the future.

Along with the great wine selections, local restaurants displayed and amazing collection of flavors. Mustards Grill pork ribs, Bouchon duck delight. Among many of the local restaurants great food creations from Torc, Tre Vigne Restaurant, Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford Grill and Brix. Also Morimoto, Angele, Eiko’s, Goose & Gander, Cordeiro’s Bar & Grill among others.

The Opus One team was the Honorary Chair this year. Unfortunately there was no Opus One wine to try at The Barrel Auction tasting event. We did not find any barrel auction lot to taste from Opus One either. Opus did contribute with several lots for Auction Napa Valley. But no worries, Napa Valley Vintners offered well crafted delicious wines from many family owned and ran wineries. We did try many outstanding selections of Napa Valley wines, SALUD!


A Zinfandel and food celebration



Photo by Edgar Solís Photo

An enjoyment  of Zinfandel and food at  Epicurea. From January 29 to 31, 2015 the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) celebrated another successful Zinfandel Experience event. For twenty-four years, ZAP has brought us the premier single varietal tasting event in the United States. Over 3,000 attendees were able to enjoy workshops, food pairings and outstanding Zinfandel wines. ZAP is dedicated to promoting the preservation and recognition of Zinfandel as America’s heritage wine. Their mission is to study, educate and celebrate Zinfandel’s place in America’s history and culture.

Zinfandel is considered America’s heritage wine because of its rich history. Zinfandel grape plantings in California represent some of the oldest vineyard plantings in the world; adding further to Zinfandel’s critically important role in the world of fine wine. While the Zinfandel grape originated in Europe, the Zinfandel name is truly American – the earliest documented use of the name was when a Boston nursery owner advertised Zinfandel for sale in 1832. Zinfandel was introduced to California during the Gold Rush at some point between 1852 and 1857 and became widely planted because it thrived so well in the state’s climate and soil. Today, Zinfandel is the third leading wine grape variety in California, with nearly 50,000 acres planted.

Despite its great history, Zinfandel has yet to receive its well-deserved attention. To help it gain recognition, ZAP organizers bring us the Zinfandel Experience. Amongst the event, there is a one-of-a-kind experience where we learned the Zinfandel’s pairing true potential: Epicuria. The event returned this year to the Presidio Golden Gate Club with over thirty wines paired with sophisticated and whimsical Master Chef creations. Certainly, there was no shortage of ideas for inspiration.

Here are some of the sinful master pairings of the night (just to name a few):

  • Andis Wines 2011 Estate Zin with Stanley’s Steakhouse smoked duck breast with caramelized onions, blue cheese, and aged balsamic reduction
  • Artezin Wines 2012 Mendocino Zin with Artezin Estate Chef’s duck rillette with black mission fig and balsamic jam
  • Bella Vineyards 2012 Lily Hill with Presidio Social Club sea salt devil’s gulch pork leg
  • Bonneau Wines 2012 Egret with Ruth’s Chris Steak house lamb lollipops with veal demi glaze
  • Jesse’s Grove Winery 2010 Earth Zin and Fire with Breadfruit Tree Inc. baccalou cucumber rounds and savory cream cheese
  • Tres Sabores 2012 Por Que No? with Mustards Grill hanger steak with watercress aioli and red onion jam on house made potato chip
  • Rombauer Vineyards 2012 Fiddletown Zin with Kuleto’s Italian Restaurant house made cacciatore and spicy coppa
  • Rosenblum Cellars 2009 Monte Rosso Zin with Lungomare house made cracker with ciccioli, stone ground mustard, and pickled onion
  • Ravenswood 1995 Old Hill Vineyard Zin with Muleheart Farm fresh ham bocadillo

Other highlights of the night:

  • The Golden Gate Club expanded with the addition of a spacious tented courtyard for additional informal dining-around experience.
  • Bay Area Airstream Adventures brought an Airstream custom made camper that served as a lounge to enjoy the delicious Carol Shelton Wines including the famous Wild Thing.
  • VIPs were able to enjoy a vertical tasting of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Zins from The Heritage Vineyard in Napa Valley.
  • Ravenswood winemaker, Joel Peterson, brought a 1995 Old Hill Vineyard Zin to delight all epicureans. Who said Zinfandel wines do not age well? Just one word: WOW!

If you enjoy the pursuit of sensual pleasure from food and drinks, you will enjoy this epicurean experience and ZAP Epicuria is your ticket. Can’t wait for ZAP 2016!

Photos by Edgar Solís


Mexican American Vintners Association Harvest Celebration

Photo by Julie Santiago

The Mexican-American Vintners Association (MAVA) celebrated its fourth Harvest Celebration in the painteresque hills of the Carneros AVA. In a big tent nestled in the middle of the Browns Ranch vineyard, acquired by Renteria Wines. Great setting with a water reservoir and rows or Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as a backdrop. We enjoyed the 80 degree weather, and constant breezes blowing from the San Pablo Bay. They couldn’t ask for better weather for their annual event.

On their four edition, this annual celebration is becoming an event to look forward every year. MAVA Napa and Sonoma vintners showcased well crafted top quality wines from a variety of grapes, including: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Proceeds from the event, that included a silent auction of wines and wine tasting experiences donated by thither members, go to a scholarship program to help deserving Napa and Sonoma County students, accepted to Napa Valley Junior College or Santa Rosa Junior College. MAVA is proud to consider themselves part of future generations’ success. This year MAVA offered four scholarships of $1,500 each to Cristian Paredes, Gabriel Lee Ayala, Diego Morales and Miguel Diaz-Valencia.

The origins of the association of Mexican-American wine producers goes back to May 2010, during an informal gathering in a hotel in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. The vintners from Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley were in Morelia to pour their wines at the Michoacán State Fair on the invitation of the Governor of Michoacán at the suggestion of Rolando Herrera of Mi Sueño Winery. Rolando had been invited personally by the Governor and suggested to the Governor that the invitation be extended to other Mexican wine producers from California.

Since 2010, Mexican-American vintners from Napa and Sonoma joint efforts to promote their wines to consumers in the United States and abroad, and to highlight the contributions to the wine industry made by the farm workers from which most of the vintners have come. The organization serves not only as a marketing tool, but it is also a source of motivation and support for future generations of aspiring Mexican-American winemakers and wine industry professionals.

Most of MAVA members share a common history, their grandparents arrived to the United States from Mexico under the Bracero program, this program grew out of a series of bi-lateral agreements between Mexico and the United States that allowed millions of Mexican men to come to the United States to work on, short-term, primarily agricultural labor contracts. From 1942 to 1964, 4.6 million contracts were signed, with many individuals returning several times on different contracts, making it the largest USA contract labor program. Many farmworkers found full time jobs by in California wine country after the Bracero program ended in 1964, and eventually became USA citizens. Mexican-Americans had been, and still are, the back bone of the California wine industry.

At the MAVA Harvest Festival we had a great opportunity to try well crafted wines with distinctive aromas and delicious flavors from thirteen of their members. From Ceja Vineyards their distinctive well crafted 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir, rich red fruit, blackberry, nutmeg and floral aromas. On the palette, nice acidity with baking spices, cola and black pepper with notes of earth on the finish. Delgadillo Cellars shared its delightful 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, very elegant wine with bright red and dark fruit accented by savory notes and velvety tannins. Long and pleasant finish with dark caramel notes. From Encanto Vineyards we tried their small production 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir, red fruit flavors, black cherry on the palate with hints cinnamon and earth. Honrama Cellars poured us a sample of a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, nice citrus flavors upfront followed by guava and pineapple finishing dry.

Justicia Wines produced a well balanced red Napa Valley blend under the Themis label, the 2009 has aromas of dark berry jam, baking spices and floral notes with ripe plum, dark ripe berries, sweet vanilla and licorice on the palate. From Maldonado Vineyards we enjoyed their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, aromas of toasty oak, cocoa powder and dark fruit. On the palate ripe plum, vanilla and root beer finishing with firm tannins. Another wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2009 Mario Bazán Cellars, red berries, five spice and potpourri on the aromas. On the palate this wine feels well balanced, dark cherry, blackberry, licorice with hints of dark chocolate and oak. From the acclaimed 2012 vintage Renteria Wines offered their Chardonnay from Carneros, a more robust well balanced Chardonnay; with green apple, Asian pear and white flowers on the aromas. Ripe pineapple, apple pie crust, caramel and hints of butter and oak on the palate.

The whole collection of wines offered by the Mexican-American Vintners Association was fascinating, you can taste the hard work and love that goes into the production of their wines. Chef Richard Haake from Winery Chefs created delicious dishes that paired very well with the wines. The menu included, baja fish tacos, pork tortas (sandwiches) and cumin & coriander steak and chicken kabobs. MAVA, please keep up with the great work!

Photos, Edgar Solís and Julie Santiago

NSMAVA to celebrate its fourth Harvest Festival


The Napa Sonoma Sonoma Mexican-American Vintner Association (NSMAVA) will celebrate its fourth Annual Harvest Festival on August 16, 2014 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Renteria Wines, Brown Ranch Vineyard Napa, CA. This is a rare opportunity to taste wines from Mexican-American Vintners all in on place.

Since 2010, Mexican-American vintners from Napa and Sonoma joint efforts to promote their wines to consumers in the United States and abroad, and to highlight the contributions to the wine industry made by the farm workers from which most of the vintners have come. The organization serves not only as a marketing tool, but it is also a source of motivation and support for future generations of aspiring Mexican-American winemakers and winery professionals.

NSMAVA offers  four scholarships in the amount of $1000 each to deserving Napa and Sonoma County students, accepted to Napa Valley Junior College or Santa Rosa Junior College. The association is proud to consider themselves part of future generations’ success. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Community Health Clinic Ole as well.

Renteria Wines will host the event at the beautiful Brown Ranch Vineyards in 4254 Old Sonoma Road, Carneros. NSMAVA will celebrate its fourth Annual Harvest Festival with wines from Alex Sotelo CellarsCeja VineyardsDelgadillo Cellars, Encanto Vineyards LLCHonrama CellarsJusticia Wines LLC, Maldonado Family Vineyards, Mario Bazán Cellars, Marita’s Vineyard, Mi Sueño Winery, Rentería Wines, Robledo Family Winery, and Volcán Cellars.

Treat yourself to wonderful wine, fabulous food pairings from Chef Richard Haake and Winery Chefs, live music from Trio Soleá and silent auction lots filled with limited production wines and winery experiences from participating wineries. Proceeds benefit the Mexican-American Vintners Association scholarship fund.

To purchase advance tickets visit NSMAVA website.

Zinfandel Simply Summer Celebration


This inaugural event is organized by Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP), featuring forty-six top producers of Zinfandel. The event will take place at Ridge Vineyards Lytton West Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley on August 16 from noon to 3:30 p.m. ʺWeʹre excited to announce our showcase regional program this summer following the time‐honored Zinfandel Experience in January,” said Rebecca Robinson, executive director, ZAP.

It will be a great opportunity for consumers to experience a fun and casual wine tasting event in a vineyard setting. Enjoy authentic wood‐fired pizza from Pizza Politana, talk to winemakers and commingle with other wine lovers who share your passion for Zinfandel.

From 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. delight with live acoustic music from Tim Jackson Duo. Visit various vendors and browse their offerings for purchase. Olive oil sampling from Chacewater winery and olive mill. The facilities include a state-of-the-art Italian 2 Phase Olive Mill! Located in Kelseyville.

Truffle Gateau, it is a chocolate appetizer designed to be paired with wine, cheese, olive oil and fruit. Bridge Brands Chocolate, the 72% cocoa blend of these dark chocolate drops perfectly pairs with the delicious aromas and flavors of many Zinfandel wines.

Sonoma Cake Creations, cupcakes, mini cakes, cookies, and more. Using fresh local ingredients whenever possible, they pride themselves on creating cakes and custom desserts that are not only pleasing to the eye, but to your taste buds as well.

Tickets for the event are $45 for Zap members and $60 for the general public. Purchase your tickets and check a list of participating wineries at Simply Summer Celebration, ZAP.


All aboard Napa Valley wine train

Photo by: Edgar Solis Photo

Delicious food, great wines in a luxurious moving environment, that is what the Napa Valley Wine Train has been offering thousands of visitors for the last 24 years. Yuri Soshizak, International Marketing Representative for NVWT shared with us the history of the wine train while the train departed from the Napa station at the Oxbow district. We enjoyed a welcome glass of Napa Valley Wine Train own label white or red wine and served an appetizer of shrimp, sliced turkey, cheese, vegetables, toasted sliced bread and grapes.

Driving at an average speed of 15 miles we enjoyed the beautifully restored lounge car, dated 1917; we enjoyed our wine while nibbling in our appetizer as part of the second seating at the Gourmet Lunch Express Package. On our way back from St. Helena, we had lunch at the Gourmet dining car with a choice of salad or soup, a choice between five different entrée and a choice between two delightful desserts.

After resting in the lounge car, you are welcomed to explore the entire train without disturbing guests at the panoramic vista dome car. At the wine tasting car guests can enjoy a customized tasting, choosing wines from more than 30 boutique wineries. Take advantage of the wine train knowledgeable wine educators by asking them about all the wines they have to share and about the many places to visit in Napa Valley.

Other than the amazing gourmet lunch or dining on the train you can also select from different packages that include winery tours and tastings to provide the full Napa Valley experience; schedules and prices vary per tour.

The wine train also offers several holiday and special engagement trips: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Santa Train, Moonlight Escapade Dinners, Murder Mystery Dinners, Vintner’s Lunches and Big Gay Train. You can see the full schedule for 2014 at Events.

Photos by EdgarSolís Photo