Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grill Power: Donum Estate & The Bounty Hunter Talk Pinot and Pork

Let me start by saying, as a Southerner, I’m a touch obsessed with barbecue, be it North Carolina, sweet Texas or Memphis style. When I was first introduced to downtown Napa’s Bounty Hunter BBQ, which is run by Tiburon native Will Wright (pictured below, with his grilling tongs), you can imagine my wariness. A California boy – and a former investment banker – who knows his way around a smoker? 

It turns out that Will, once the chef and now the GM at the Bounty Hunter, has done stints in some of California’s finest kitchens, including the French Laundry. Will once told me that he’s always loved to grill, but he’s really been able to perfect his craft at the Bounty Hunter. Since his promotion to GM, Will doesn’t get his hands dirty in the kitchen as often as he’d like, but the tradeoff is that he now spends more time finessing the incredible 400-plus selection of wines they offer their guests. 

Over the years, Will has become intimately acquainted with some of these wines, including the lineup of Donum Estate Pinot Noirs. With grilling season kicking into high gear, we thought it was about time for the California Culinary Academy grad to take break from his grill and two Kamado smokers to talk Pinot and pork pairings with Donum Estate.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

La Difference: Donum Estate and a Diversity of Tastes

A few weeks ago, Cath Henderson, the editor of Classic Wine, graciously sent us a wonderful article by writer Norman McFarlane. McFarlane and Anne, Donum's founder, had met several months prior, and the article, titled "A Wandering Palate for Pinot Noir," touches upon their introduction and McFarlane's impression of the Donum portfolio of wines. We wanted to post it here for two reasons. First, Classic Wine is one of South Africa's most elegant wine publications, and we genuinely enjoyed McFarlane's thorough description of Donum's genesis and wines. Second, McFarlane's article isn't solely focused on the Pinot Noirs of Donum Estate; the broader subject is the American palate, which is always a hot button topic among winemakers, critics and collectors.

During one of our  monthly team meetings, I brought up this article and its exploration of the evolving American palate and how it is influenced. The conversation that ensued was lively and opinonated, and it inspired us to invite Anne to offer her take on the subject. We hope you'll check back in for that Q&A.

In the meantime, we hope you'll enjoy the following article. Although we can't say we agree with every element touched upon in the following pages, we can agree that the wine world would be much less rich if it weren't for the diversity of palates out there. As McFarlane says at the end of the "A Wandering Palate," Vive la difference!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Menu with Donum Estate and Chef Greg Cole

When we first dreamed up the idea of doing something fun and special for Mother’s Day here at Donum, we knew world class food and wine would have to play a role. Which is why we decided to reach out to Chef Greg Cole, the executive chef and owner of Celadon and Cole’s Chop House in downtown Napa. We have been longtime fans of these two restaurant gems on the riverfront, and Cole has been a loyal supporter and advocate for Donum Estate as well.

Greg’s been turning out fresh, fusion dishes for over 15 years at Celadon, his award-winning restaurant tucked inside a converted 19th century warehouse and surrounded by a lush green garden. When we asked him to come up with a Mother’s Day menu appropriate for brunch of supper, complimentary to our 2009 Carneros Estate Chardonnay, and approachable for the home chef, he didn’t bat an eyelash. A few days later, Cole offered us this recipe for an oven-braised chicken sauté with linguine and Castelvetrano olives:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother’s Day With Donum Estate: Two Daughters. The Same Five Questions.

We mentioned yesterday that, as a special Mother’s Day surprise, we asked the daughters of Donum founder and winegrower AnneMoller-Racke  to sound off on what it was like growing up in the vineyards of Carneros and Sonoma, their shared, yet different, passion for the California landscape, and, of course, their mother's influence in their lives.

Dorothe Moller Racke traveled from Germany’s Middle Rhine to Carneros when she was just 12-months old. Today, the 32-year old wine industry veteran runs the sales and marketing program for a unique winery and organic estate known as Stone Edge Farm. Hannah Gropman, now a teenager, was born and is still being raised in California wine country.  Although she’s never been into the “down and dirty” side of growing and making wine, she has a maturity, both in her palate and in her actions, that belies her 15-year age. Their personalities are as vast as the age gap that sets them apart, but they do share a passion for the science and art of the wine industry, thanks in large part to their mother, winegrower Anne Moller Racke.
What follows are the girls’ unique answers to the same five questions.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mother's Day Special with Donum Estate

Out here on our Carneros ranch, when we think of Donum founder Anne Moller-Racke, we tend to focus on her 30-year dedication to farming the vineyards of Carneros and Sonoma. We celebrate her skill for world class Pinot Noir. On occasion, we forget that she has responsibilities outside of refining her Grand Cru model for Donum.