Our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay harvest for sparkling wine is now complete, and early Pinot Grigio grapes have also been pressed and are now cold-settling in tank. Predictions of an early harvest have proved to be true, so we are preparing for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Muscat and dry-farmed Zinfandel to follow quickly into the winery.
Quality is very high, and we expect a stellar vintage in Napa Valley in 2014. Some varieties are yielding a bit light while others may come in a bit heavy. Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured above) looks great; Chardonnay and Pinot Noir yields are expected to be average, while Syrah and Merlot clusters are sizing up and will be at or above expectations. The cool weather over the last two weeks have given the vines a chance to recover from the summer drought conditions, and I am really excited about flavor development and acid profiles in the grapes. We want to extend the “hang-time” a bit for reds, so that the skin and phenolic maturity reaches its peak before harvest. Given our current weather everything looks really good, and 2014 should be another excellent year!
This is the time of year when writing a food and wine blog becomes a challenging task to complete rather than an opportunity for relaxed easy banter I usually tackle with enthusiasm. The weather is still quite warm but the nights now bring the crispness of autumn. Excitement for the fresh lighter fare of summer has given way to the anticipation of comforting fall favorites. Maybe it’s the angle of the late summer sun or the knowing that harvest is rapidly approaching. Labor Day is days away, summer is rounding third.
Suddenly-- a change of season.
My creativity is obviously on a late summer vacation and my vapid thoughts are in need of inspiration.
So, I went to the grocery store and wandered the aisles….searching. How to bridge this canyon of bland? This growing crevasse of food and wine apathy. The space between. The blah. The doldrums.
Then, I saw it. A warm halo of light illuminating its golden perfection; a roasted chicken.
(Maybe the ‘warm halo of illuminating light’ was actually a warming oven?)
Few foods can adapt to the season…or to wine… quite like a roast chicken; a winged chameleon of flavor. Season with sea salt, black pepper and a touch of lemon juice. Refrigerate this bird for a few quick meals on the fly and serve with summer veggies and a cool crisp Pinot grigio. Added win--leftovers make yummy soft tacos!
Let’s beef this chicken up. Root vegetables are a perfect hearty addition. Rub a touch garlic and rosemary to the skin of this bird. Cover with foil and pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes and serve with roasted potatoes. Pinot Noir and roast chicken is a time honored classic and nothng short of inspiring!
Harvest season is fast approaching here in the Napa Valley, and we’re seeing beautiful changes in the vineyards surrounding the Castello as the grapes ripen on the vine. This is the time of year when verasion occurs, or the “onset of ripening” of the berries.
The green berries begin changing to different shades of purple to a dark blue-violet color as they take on the characteristics of their specific varietal. This typically begins in the late summer season, and this year we saw verasion beginning in our estate vineyards around the beginning of July.
It’s a beautiful time to visit Napa Valley and see the changing colors as the summer season turns to fall. We are looking forward to Harvest 2014!