This is a wine that really captures the spirit of California. Sure, there are more famous examples of single vineyard this or unique clones of that, made by multi-million dollar wineries, that’re indisputably excellent. But that’s not what this is about. This is a family-run winery making an old vine field blend of classic Californian grapes, in the same time-honoured way for over 30 years now. It’s a heart-warming thought. The NV, by the way, stands for ‘non vintage’, meaning it’s a blend of different wines from over a few years, much like many Champagnes. Rather than a single vintage having all the fun, like is most common in still wines, a blend of younger and older wines allows for both bright fruitiness and deeply aged complexity. The wine’s simply delicious, and a fun, unpretentious way to enjoy American wine beyond just being a product. It’s mostly zinfandel, so there’s plenty of plush, soft fruit richness, balanced by just enough tannin and a ripple of lively acid. Perfect to see you through the winter, and beyond.
It’s cool, we get it, you want to know absolutely everything about this wine. Well here you go, go nuts.
- Alcohol by Vol.
- Bottle Vol
- Blend Info
- Serving Temp.
Ah, Cali. You bring the world so many things. Route 66, Santa Monica, Big Sur (although I drove through at night without realising that one time... it was very dark), the Golden Gate Bridge. And oh the wine! Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Paso Robles are some regions that come to mind, but that's just skimming the surface. From the big marques like Mondavi and Ridge to fringe pioneers like Sean Thackrey, there's as much wine to explore as there are sunsets to see and routes to cruise. Start here, then.
The rules are there ain’t no rules, but here are some foods we think will work pretty well with this wine...
- 1 kg centre fillet of beef , trimmed (the timings below work perfectly for a fillet of roughly 10cm in diameter)
- olive oil
- 2 large knobs of unsalted butter
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 600 g mixed mushrooms
- 100 g chicken livers , (cleaned)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon truffle oil , (optional)
- 50 g fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 x 500 g block puff pastry
- 1 large free-range egg
- For the gravy:
- 2 onions
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 heaped teaspoon blackcurrant jam
- 100 ml Maderia wine
- 1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
- 2 heaped teaspoons plain flour , plus extra for dusting
- 600 ml beef stock , (hot)
- Preheat a large frying pan on a high heat. Rub the beef all over with sea salt and black pepper. Pour a good lug of oil into the pan, then add the beef, 1 knob of butter and 1 sprig of rosemary. Sear the beef for 4 minutes in total, turning regularly with tongs, then remove to a plate. Wipe out the pan and return to a medium heat. Peel the onion and garlic, then very finely chop with the mushrooms and put into the pan with the remaining knob of butter and another lug of oil. Strip in the rest of the rosemary leaves and cook for 15 minutes, or until soft and starting to caramelise, stirring regularly. Toss the livers and Worcestershire sauce into the pan and cook for another few minutes, then tip the contents onto a large board and drizzle with the truffle oil (if using). Finely chop it all by hand with a big knife, to a rustic, spreadable consistency. Taste and season to perfection, then stir in the breadcrumbs (you can use pancakes to line the pastry and absorb the juices, but I prefer using breadcrumbs like this).
- Preheat the oven to 210°C/425°F/gas 7. On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the pastry to 30cm x 40cm. With one of the longer edges in front of you, spread the mushroom pâté over the pastry, leaving a 5cm gap at either end and at the edge furthest away from you – eggwash these edges. Sit the beef on the pâté then, starting with the edge nearest to you, snugly wrap the pastry around the beef, pinching the ends to seal. Transfer the Wellington to a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, with the pastry seal at the base, and brush all over with eggwash (you can prep to this stage, then refrigerate until needed – just get it out 1½ hours before cooking so it’s not fridge-cold). When you’re ready to cook, heat the tray on the hob for a couple of minutes to start crisping up the base, then transfer to the oven and cook for 40 minutes for blushing, juicy beef – the two end portions will be more cooked, but usually some people prefer that.
- Meanwhile, for the gravy, peel and roughly chop the onions and put into a large pan on a medium heat with a lug of oil and the thyme leaves. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in the jam and simmer until shiny and quite dark. Add the Madeira, flame with a match, cook away, then stir in the mustard and flour, gradually followed by the stock. Simmer to the consistency you like, then blend with a stick blender and pass through a sieve, or leave chunky. Once cooked, rest the Wellington for 5 minutes, then serve in 2cm-thick slices with the gravy and steamed greens.
The wines we remember are about the moments. The people, the places. That’s life. Here are some ideas...