Faustini Wines Blog
Welcome to the Faustini Wines blog. Here you will find info on what's happening at the winery, our thoughts on winemaking, food, life, and wine industry news. Let us know if you want us to post on any topics....
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What exactly is the difference between French oak and American Oak? It’s one of the more common questions people ask us in the tasting room today, and it’s one of the most debated questions in the wine industry; French Oak vs. American Oak, what’s the story?
The difference is in the actual oak species. American barrels are made from White Oak. The physical properties of the wood allow it to impart a lot of flavor quickly so sometimes there’s a greater risk of “over-oaking” the wine. American oak barrels are also constructed using a different drying technique than the French oak barrels. American oak barrels are dried using a kiln-dry method, which allows a quicker release of the aromas to the wine, resulting in a shorter contact period of about six to ten months. This method also gives off more sweetness in the wines as well as more vanilla notes.
Most of the French oak barrels comes from one of five forests and the species of oak also depends on the forest it is coming from. The main forests located in central France are the Allier, Limousin, Nevers, Tronçais and Vosges, and each is considered to have its own distinctive characteristics. In these regions of France, the oak pieces are allowed to dry in open air and age for twenty-four to thirty-six months, which can give the barrels a tighter grain restricting air entrance through the pores, giving French oaked wines less contact with oxygen. Therefore French oak barrels are more porous and they often have to be topped off. Due to the organic makeup of French oak, wine stored inside these barrels tends to develop a higher tannin content over time.
In terms of flavor, most winemaker and experts agree that American oak possesses a unique combination of sweetness, nutmeg, clove, cedar and vanilla. Depending on the particular type of wine being stored, using an American oak barrel can really enhance its flavors to achieve superb drinking experience. The flavor offered by French oak wine barrels varies because of the many different barrels, but some of the most commonly reported flavor hints include butterscotch, cedar, vanilla, and coconut, along with a general creamy texture. The heavier flavors combined with an increased tannin content are ideal for full-bodies wine varieties.
Some winemakers strictly only use one type of oak, this does not necessarily mean that one type of oak is better than the other. We have to remember that wine making is an art, so it all comes down to what the winemakers style is and what they want their final result to be as each type of barrel can give the wine different characteristics. In some cases you will find winemakers using both American and French oak in order to gain a bit of both complexities from the different oaks. In the wine producing world it comes down to what the winemaker is looking for in his or her final product: which flavors and aromas they desire in the wine? Do they want to have a more complex wine? How long will they age that wine in the oak barrels and which type will they use? There are many factors that can come into play when the oak process occurs, but without the oaks characteristics some wines would just be a boring and a some even too harsh. Whether a wine is French oak aged or American oak aged, they will still be a wine waiting to share their story.
Till next time oenophiles…Cheers!
Wine is just like fashion, there are times when a trend seems to come out of nowhere and take the country by storm. One day you’ve never heard of a particular type or variety of wine; the next, it’s all the rage everywhere. People are talking about it, it’s served at parties, dinners, you name it! Today the current darling of the wine world: Moscato. In the past few years this fruity, light-bodied, perfumed wine made from none other than the Muscat grape has gained a huge crowd. A favorite among the younger generation known as the Millennials, and people who enjoy a sweeter style wine, in 2012 alone the sales of Moscato in the U.S. grew by nearly 70% and is still growing today.
Muscat is an ancient grape variety that has been planted in almost every wine region all over the world. It is primarily used to produce sweet wines, especially dessert wines. It has been mutated many times and forms a family of five main related varieties. The most common is “Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains” (white muscat with small berries) which is the main grape variety used in the production of the popular Italian sparkling wine Asti made in the Piedmonte region. It is also used in the production of many of the French fortified wines such as famous “Beaumes de Venise” from the Rhone Valley. Muscat of Alexandria is another Muscat variety found in Spain where it is used to make many of the fortified Spanish sweet Moscatels. Elsewhere it is used to make off-dry to sweet white wines, often labeled as Moscato in Australia, California and South Africa. In Alsace, Croatia & Serbia “Muscat Ottonel” is used to produce usually dry and highly perfumed wines.
Who knew there were so many different wines coming from the Muscat grape? Lets just stick to our homeland for now….
In the middle of the 20th century, the wines made from California’s Muscat grapes were primarily sweet: thick, syrupy and even a little bit Port-like. When sweet wines went out of style and other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay became popular, many Muscat vineyards were pulled out to make room for new plantings. But some farmers, primarily in the Central California growing region, continued to grow small amounts of the variety. With a warm-to-hot climate and relatively deep, fertile soils, these inland growing regions are known for high quality Muscat, a vigorous variety known for its relatively high yields. In fact, Muscat vines can set so much fruit particularly when they’re young, that the grapes can actually weigh the vines down to the point of breaking so they always have to be closely watched. Winemakers, who valued the grape for its intense, floral aromatics, used (and still use) Muscat as a “blender,” adding small amounts to both white and red wines to give them more pronounced flavor and character.
All Muscats share a characteristic powerful floral aroma profile with sweet notes. Dessert Muscats primarily from southern France, Rutherglen Australia or southern Spain have carmelized sugar or toffee aromas. While the light sparkling Asti of Northeastern Italy has a subtle sweet everessence. California Muscats are often considered off dry in terms of sweetness. They have a little bit of sweetness to them, but will never be too overpowering.
2012 Play Date Moscato
The fruit from this wine comes directly from the Coombsville AVA where the winery is located. The wine has also been stainless steel aged for 12 months.
Color: Pale gold
Aroma: Golden apple, honeysuckle, gooseberry
Flavor: honeydew melon, white blossom, jasmine
Sometimes everyone needs a little pick me up and Moscato does just that. Each winery is doing something a little different with the grape, giving consumers a range of styles to choose from. On a hot summer day, a cool, refreshing class of sparkling Moscato is as good as it gets.
Till next time oenophiles, cheers!
By, Shannon Hurley
Just hearing the word Champagne brings up images of popping corks with grand celebrations and parties like no other. Did you know that these famous bubbles were actually an accident? At the age of 29, monk Dom Perignon was appointed manager of Champagne's Abbey at Hautvillers. Realizing that the financial health and reputation of the monastery was tied to its vineyards, the monk set to work taking care of the beaten-down vines and reconstructing the cellar. In almost no time, the Hautvillers vineyard was up and running.
Nowadays, many people credit the famous monk with inventing champagne by forcing bubbles into sweet wine. That's a myth, though!! In Dom Perignon's day, bubbles in wine were actually considered to be a serious wine FLAW! He spent more time trying to prevent them from happening. While he never succeeded on that front, he did succeed in making bubbly wine a whole lot better. For starters, he was the first winemaker in Champagne to use corks, which kept the carbon dioxide from escaping, thus creating the bubbles. Champagne made still wine but the regions cooler temperatures would halt fermentation while there were still leftover yeast and sugar. When temperatures warmed up secondary fermentation occurred in whatever vessel the wine was stored in, producing more alcohol and bubbles. Eventually people began developing a taste for bubbles and the practice of making the sparkling was perfected. Dom also used a process of gently pressing his grapes, so that it eliminated the dark color that came from the skins. This produced a clearer, less murky looking wine. He even blended his grapes to make a light white wine, which suited the fizziness far better than the heavy red. Legend has it that upon first tasting his vastly improved beverage, Dom exclaimed the now famous quote "Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!"
Luckily enough I’ve had the experience of visiting the cellars of Dom Perignon and Moët & Chandon last summer through school. In the heart of beautiful Epernay, (almost like a playground for sparkling lovers) I was able to taste some truly gorgeous champagnes, and learn more about the rich history of champagne making in the process. The chalk limestone crayéres (caves) of the Moet champagne house stretch for about 17 miles. The area is vast and the perfect place for millions of bottles of champagne to age quietly for years.
In order to understand our American sparkling wines, you need to understand the basics of Champagne which serves as the model for most new world sparkling wines. An important fact: ONLY wines that originate from Champagne, France can officially use the term Champagne. All other wines with bubbles are simply called sparkling wines.
The three most common grapes that are used to make Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Most American sparklers concentrate on making wines from the first two. Chardonnay adds elegance; Pinot Noir adds power and fruitiness. Once the still wines are blended a secondary fermentation is induced by the addition of sugar and yeast to create the bubbles that make these wines so special.
Our sparkling wine Velvet & Vinyl is produced in the Méthode Champenoise style and is made from the pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. A few years ago Anthony and Michelle Faustini did an interview with Fox news on their wines. Afterwards they decided to go out and celebrate the occasion by ordering a La Grande Dame champagne. Anthony was wearing a velvet vest that night. Michelle brought up that he’s come a long way from spinning vinyl (he used to be a DJ) to wearing velvet. And so the idea of producing a sparkling wine named Velvet and Vinyl was born.
Nose: Citrus, pear and elderflower
Palate: Hints of fresh baked brioche, crisp golden apple, tiny delicate bubbles.
Food Pairing: this is a dry sparkling, the acidity and bubbles make it a great paring for salty dishes like oysters, grilled shrimp or fish tacos
Now you know the real deal behind those bubbles and hopefully you too will be able to "taste the stars". Till next time oneophiles... Cheers!
By, Shannon Hurley
Ever wonder what really goes into making an amazing wine? Here is the inside scoop on one of the longest traditions in history. No we’re not talking about drinking wine, we’re talking about the art of handcrafting beautiful vino! This tradition has been passed down from generation all over the world, each culture having their own unique methods and practices for producing their best. The spotlight today is on producing white wine. Most white wines are made to show off their light, delicate floral and fruit aromas but some are intended as more full-bodied wines that can accompany a relatively hearty meal and will gain a complexity of character over a few years of maturation.
In general it is vital to begin the winemaking process as soon as possible after the harvest. Once the grapes are picked they immediately begin to degrade and oxidation begins. To minimize these effects the grapes are typically kept cool and covered, sulfur may be added as a preservative and they are taken to the process facility.
The first step in the winemaking process is sorting. This is where leaves and other debris, underripe bunches and damaged grapes can be pulled out before processing begins. This is usually a manual job but can also be mechanized. The more rigorous the selection the higher the production process can be. Therefore it is mostly used in the process of high end wines.
Crushing and Destemming
White wine can be made with either white or red grapes. The grapes are sent through a crusher -destemmer machine. This piece of equipment is designed to break open the berries and release the juice, at the same time the grapes are separated from the stem structure of the bunch. The major difference between white and red wine is that white wines are fermented without the grape skins. First the grapes are pressed off the skins and the sweet grape juice is collected in vats to be fermented into wine.
When making a white wine, contact between the skins and the juice is usually minimized (this helps the wine maintain its light color). The fresh grapes are poured into a machine called a press as soon as possible to separate the solids from the juice. By this point the movement of the grapes since harvest has already caused many of the berries to burst open, so a large amount of juice drains out from the press. This is known as the “free run” and is considered to be the juice of the highest quality, rich in sugar and low in tannin. After the free run has been collected, the grapes are subjected to one or more pressings to extract the remaining liquid.
White wines are typically fermented at much cooler temperatures (45-60 degrees). This is to preserve the fresh fruity flavors and aromas. If the temperature gets too high, these fruity and floral aromas can disappear into bitter tasting “cooked” flavors (nobody wants that!). The higher the sugar content of the juice the higher the resulting alcohol level will be. White wines are also much more susceptible to discoloration (e.g. turn deep gold-brown) and don’t commonly cellar as long as red wines do. So with that being said temperature control is one of the most crucial parts of the winemakers’ job.
After the wine is fermented, some wines can go through an additional fermentation called Malo-Lactic Fermentation (known in the wine biz as MLF) this will increase the texture of white wine to more of a creamy viscous liquid. MLF alters the type of acid in a wine fronm tartic (like the type of acid you taste in an apple) to malic (the type of acid you taste in milk).
After a full course of clarification, a white wine will become sparkling clear and bright and should have no sediment in the bottle.
White wines are loaded with tartaric acid. This acid is a major component of wine and is not something that can or should be filtered out during the process. In order to keep this acid the way it should most wines are “cold stabilized” meaning they are chilled at 25 degrees for one to three weeks then racked up so tartaric crystals are not found in the wine.
The last step is bottling the finished wine. The bottling line typically receives empty bottles at one end, fills them with wine, corks them, installs a capsule over the bottles necks, labels them and packages them in boxes. Each step can be automated or done manually. From there the wine is stored in the warehouse until ready for shipment.
Hopefully you enjoyed learning about what goes into producing a white wine. Whether it’s a Beach House Number #34 Sauvignon Blanc, Play Date Moscato or any of your other favorite whites, next time you’re sippin’ remember the tradition lies within the bottle!
Till next time oneophiles…Cheers!! (Insert glass of Beach House)
By, Shannon Hurley
Resources: Society of Wine Educators & Wine Folly
Pinot Noir (or black pine) is the most widely planted varietal in the world. This thinned skinned grape grows in tight dark purple, pine-cone shaped clusters. Apart from its growing condition the Pinot Noir grape is argued to produce the finest wines in the world, its proclamation as one of the 9 Noble red grapes stems from its famous location in the French Burgundy wine region. During the first century A.D. this grape varietal was known to the Ancient Romans as “Helvanacia Minor”, which they turned into wine during their conquest of France’s Burgundy region. The hilly area where Pinot Noir was cultivated was known as the Côte d'Or (aka “The Slope of Gold”) and is still the king growing area of pinot noir today.
For a long time pinot noir was known as “the heartbreak grape” because it was prone to both disease conditions in the vineyard and being fickle in the cellar. It is also very genetically unstable and highly prone to mutation. The new clones of this grape which have been found in many new world countries deliver thicker skins, which both repel pesky invaders in the vineyard, and offer more reliable color and body in the winery.
Pinot Noir performs best in cooler climates where it can maintain its bright & crisp acidity. Our pinot noir grapes are sourced from Sonoma County where it has predominately moist conditions and marine influences from the Pacific Ocean. The daily winds that make its way into Sonoma slow down the ripening, which promotes natural balance and flavor in the wine. Ultimately, this area provides the ideal growing conditions for this temperamental grape. The ability of these flavorful grapes in cool conditions also makes Pinot an ideal choice for your favorite champagnes & sparkling wines (hello Velvet & Vinyl!!)
2012 Opportunity Collection Pinot Noir
COLOR: Medium clear ruby
AROMA: Fruit forward with notes of raspberry, sweet black cherry and vanilla
PALATE: Ripe Cherries with accents of semi-sweet chocolate, and an elegant finish
I like to think of Pinot Noir as a versatile food pairing wine. Its lighter complexity makes it worthwhile for a salmon dish or some grilled vegetables but also has enough body to pair with some richer meats such as seared duck breast. If you ever find yourself at large dinner or party when you’ve been given the task of choosing the wine for all different palates, a nice Pinot Noir will usually do the trick (and may help you keep your friends) I hope you’ll keep this grape in mind when you have to put your wine thinking cap on…Till next time oenophiles, Cheers!
By, Shannon Hurley
The Napa Valley- a term used today as a synonym for Napa County, is the best known U.S wine region in the world. For the most part Napa’s reputation has been built from the award winning Cabernet Sauvignons and of course the Bordeaux style blends. These amazing wines come from well-established big names and of course small boutique wineries like Faustini. Surprisingly enough Napa makes up only 4% in total California wine production. Don't let this number fool you! Although small in terms of grape harvest, you will see why this wine growing region keeps seasoned oneophiles coming back for more.
Back in the Early Days
Settler George Calvert Yount (for those of you who are thinking Yountville and the French Laundry you're right!) made his way to California in 1831. In 1834 he went to Sonoma, where he was employed as a carpenter by General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. After working for Vallejo, Yount received the Rancho Caymus land grant in 1836, and became the first permanent settler in the Napa Valley. By 1838 he saw that the area had a lot of potential for growing wine grapes, and by 1839 with the help of two other pioneers, he was able to plant the first Vitis Vinifera grapes in the area. Charles Krug established Napa’s first commercial winery in 1861, which is still being operated today by his good friends the Mondavi family. Now there are more then 300 wineries in Napa to date.
Ideal terroir (meaning the all-inclusive physical environment of a wine growing area) is essential for making a great wine, and although Napa is one of the smallest wine growing regions, you can see that the grapes really speak for themselves. Defined by the Vaca and Mayacamas mountain ranges and influenced by its juxtaposition to the Pacific Ocean, the Napa Valley enjoys a beautiful dry Mediterranean climate (only 2% of the world has this!) perfectly suited to the growing of astonishing wine grapes. These mountains protect the Valley from the chilly air off the Pacific Ocean, and the scorching heat of the Central Valley. The Napa River runs generally north to south of the county, and helps keeps the valley cool at night. This ideal combination with the warm daytime temperature and chilly night air allows the grapes to ripen softly and in sync with one another.
Key Appellations in Napa
Napa County is one of the counties included in the North Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area) of California. Within Napa itself there are also 16 other sub AVAs. The most prestigious area of Napa Valley stretches north from the city of Napa upward which includes the Yountville, (where we source our Malbec Rosé) Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford (Beach House #34 Sauvignon Blanc), St. Helena, Calistoga and Howell Mountain (Secret Veil) AVAs. This is a prime Cabernet Sauvignon growing area, and plays humble host to many of the famous American wineries and vineyards such as Silver Oak & Caymus. Below the city of Napa in the cooler part of the county, you will find the well-known Oak Knoll District and the Carneros AVA's which have ideal climates for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. These grapes are often used to make a majority of the sparkling wines produced around Napa.
So Where is Faustini?
Our winery is located in the Coombsville AVA. Coombsville is a quiet area, in the southeastern corner of the Napa Valley, closely situated against the foothills of the Vaca mountians (just 15 minutes outside of the city of Napa!). Most people who visit Napa generally never pass through it, or even know it exists, it's basically a hidden secret of the Valley! Yet, for anyone who has fallen in love with Napa Valley wines, or a seasoned Napa traveler who wishes to get out of the tourist area… Coombsville is an absolute MUST-SEE destination!
Here are some facts about the Coombsville AVA
Climate: Temperate climate moderated by close proximity to the San Pablo Bay and the influences of marine air.
Elevation: Most vineyards are in the 100-500 foot (30-150 m) zone, though a small portion tops 1000 feet (300 m)
Rainfall: 25 inches (65 cm) annually
Soils: Primarily weathered volcanic rock and alluvial deposits from the Vaca Range that surrounds the region
Principal varieties: Dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon on the hillsides with Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir in the lower, cooler sites
As we wrap things up it's important to understand that Faustini is a winery. This means that all of our winemaking is done at our Coombsville location, and like many other wineries we too have a number of our grapes growing in not only Coombsville but other well-known parts of Napa, providing you with the ultimate tasting experience for each wine that we make. I hope you enjoyed this educational “Flight to Napa” and feel inspired to embark on a journey to visit Faustini, as well as the many other beautiful wineries and vineyards which lie in Napa County. Till next time my fellow oneophiles…Cheers!!
By, Shannon Hurley
-The Society of Wine Educators Handbook
-The Encyclopedia of Wine- Tom Stevenson
With the warm weather in full bloom it’s time to take a break from those heartier pairings and lighten up with a refreshing take. We’re talking Rosé!
The development of Rosé wine dates back to the 1700’s with the popularity of “Claret” meaning clear or light-colored wine. This was a popular style of red Bordeaux during the 1700′s. Back then, the British were the ones who favored pale style wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Of course these days Bordeaux wines have become gallant and darker, and the lovely rosé has received a category of its very own.
Today rosé has a variety of names depending on its origin. Whether you call it “Rosé” in France or America, “Rosado” in Spain, “Rosato” in Italy or simply “blush" – they all refer to some seriously pink business. The wines can typically range from a light salmon subtle hue to a vibrant magenta pink, depending on the grape used and how long the skins were in contact with the juice. Rosés can be made in three different styles off-dry, sweet, or dry the most popular style produced around the world today. There are two different ways to make Rosé. First we have “Saignee” this is the practice of “bleeding off” lightly tinted grape juice after a brief maceration process (soaking of grape skins). Since wine’s color actually comes from the skins, the longer the skins, pips and seeds remain in contact with the grape, the darker and more tannic the rosé gets. The second less common way is to simply blend white wine with a red to make it appear pink.
Think Pink, Drink Pink!
Our rosés are the perfect pairing for spring and summer, since they are served chilled and can be a refreshing garnish to any warm day. They are also extremely versatile wines and pair well with a number of different dishes.
It’s not too often that you’ll find a Malbec Rosé coming out of Napa. Although this grape has some Argentinian roots, this crisp wine is often compared to a Provence style rosé.
Aroma: Ripe cherry & peach flesh with hints of strawberry
Palate: Pink grapefruit & tart red currant flavors linger softly on the fresh finish
Food Pairing: Grilled Mahi-Mahi with bell pepper salad
This full bodied rose is beautifully layered with ripe fruit from the Coomsville AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Napa, with the overall balance to pair with just about anything.
Aroma: Cranberry, fresh watermelon & rose petal
Palate: Pomegranate & ripe black cherry with subtle cinnamon notes
Food Pairing: Sirloin burger with maple bacon, blue cheese & sweet potato fries
So wine lovers, if you are opting to try something outside of your wine box don’t be afraid! Rosé is on the rise and many people have discovered the truth behind the myth that all rosés are “sweet and girly”. Come stop by our tasting room on Broad Street in Red Bank today for a flight with our featured rosés. Till next time, Cheers!
The year 2011 will always be remembered as the year we laid the foundation for our family business for the next decade. So much has changed since the beginning of the year that I thought I would do a quick review of some our changes and offer a glimpse into the future at Faustini Wines.
2011 - A Year in Review at Faustini Wines
Launched our new website along with wine clubs, social networking integration and onsite reviews
Partnered with a new fulfillment house which allows us to provide enhanced customer service for shipping orders.
Successfully moved our production facility that provides us the ability to grow
Added three new vineyard sources (two of which are certified organic)
Successfully launched a new wine brand at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Show - Play Date
Secured distribution for our wines in New York and New Jersey wine markets
Hired a full time winemaker to help shape the direction of our wine programs
Harvested and crushed our first ever vintage of Napa Valley Malbec
Lastly, we ended the year with a bang with our nationally televised interview on Fox Business News http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1314987374001/turning-wine-passion-into-a-successful-business/
Now that the foundation is in place, its time to look forward. We fully expect to have our wines represented in more and more fine restaurants in NYC and NJ in 2012. We will be expanding our portfolio to include a new Cabernet Sauvignon called "1023". This is a 100% Cabernet from a certified organic fruit source in Rutherford. We also plan to expand the Play Date line of wines.
Lastly (and some might say most exciting), is the opening of our tasting room in Napa in the spring of 2012. We have been working hard on this for most of 2011 and are now ready to go. Please plan to visit us this summer and join our mailing list to be notified about our grand opening party!
We have been patiently waiting and now the day is here. Today we harvested our Cabernet Sauvignon from our certified organic vineyard source in Rutherford. More on the 2011 harvest in the weeks to come but for now, here's a sneak peak of the fruit coming in.
Enjoy Father's Day next week with a great recipe from Faustini Wines.
3/4 Cup Chopped Pancetta
3/4 Cup Chopped Roma Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
2 dozen Fresh Little Neck Clams
4 cloves Chopped Garlic
3 Tablespoon Un-Salted Butter
1 Tablespoon Chopped Itailan Parsley
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 Teaspoon Grey Salt
Pinch Crushed Red Pepper flakes (optional)
1 Lemon (Juice of)
In sauté pan, add olive oil and pancetta and render it down. Then add onion and cook until almost transparent, then add garlic. Add mixture into a roasting pan along with butter, lemon juice, grey salt, wine, clams, and red pepper flakes (optional).
Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil and place inside oven pre-heated at 425 degrees (you can also place on an outdoor grill). Allow 10-15 minutes cook time. As the first clam opens, add chopped tomatoes and cover for another 2-5 minutes. Once all of the clams open, remove from oven/grill place into large bowl and add chopped parsley. Enjoy
Also, great over linguine