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Ah,Napa Valley  

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Leslie,

First I want to welcome you to Chef Talk. We're very happy your here.

I see you live in Napa with your husband. I've studied in Napa a few times and have found it to be one of the greatest climates for inspiration for a chef.

In your bio it says that you have helped to develope recipes for some of the vineyards,Beringer being one of them. Can you share with us how you come up with concepts to marry food and wine.

Who are some of the chefs you have worked with in the Valley?

Thanks for your time
Brad
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #2 of 14
Dear Brad,

It is wonderful to be on Cheftalk! I have read many of the discussions and everyone is so genuine and generous.

Every morning when I wake up and look out over the vineyards, I realize that I am the luckiest kid on the block to be able to live and work in the Napa Valley. This area is ideal for those interested in food and wine with the finest wineries, boutique farms and the fascinating ethnic restaurants in San Francisco just down the street. Everyone that I have met here is passionate about excellence which inspires me to always do my best and better.

My husband Richard is a winemaker and we have our own winery called "Mansfield". He has taught me so much about wine and especially pairing food with wine. His palate is exceptional and he has taught me how to develope mine through constant tasting. I think it is like trying to describe a color, you actually have to see the color before you can understand it.

We try different methods of pairing food with wine. One, is to use the 'weight' of the food. Is it a hearty dish of braised short ribs? Then try a 'heavy' red wine such as a Cabernet. A 'heavy' cream sauce with monkfish calls for a buttery highly oaked chardonnay. Steamed Dungeness crab is wonderful with a 'light' dry and floral gevurztraminer.

Another method is pairing by the color of wine. For example, the deep pink of salmon is wonderful with the lighter garnet of Pinot Noir.

We also take into consideration the spicing of dishes. I cook a lot of Thai, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, and Burmese dishes and find that a slightly sweet Riesling is wonderful with the seafoods and that Zinfandels stand up to spicy red meat dishes.

I don't think food is properly spiced unless you go temporarily deaf! And then a cold beer is what I want.

Brad, where have you studied in the Napa Valley? What is your favorite restaurant here?

Leslie
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Dear Leslie,

Thank you for your promt and excellent post.

I am a bit jealous of your situation,I can picture the vineyards in my mind.This time of year the early morning mist kisses the tops of the Mayacamus mountians

I also take your approach to pairing food and wine.Weight and color indeed are important as are fats and acids and how they will work together.

I also love the Riesling grape in all it's different levels of residual sugar.I find anything from a Kabinett to the glorius TBA's are the foil for many dishes with a bit of spicy depth and smoke also.

As far as Napa,I consider myself very lucky to have studied on a scholorship at "The School for American Chefs" at Berniger vineyards with Madilien Kamman in 1990. I was also blessed to study wine with Tim Hanni before he left the school. I have also taken a few "Great American Chefs Seriers" classes next door at the CIA.

Restaurants I have enjoyed was Terra,both times I had a wonderful meal.When I was first in Nana Phillip Leanty was at Chandon and ate there and then years later had a great oxtail terrine as his bistro in Yountville.

Had a good meal at Jockem splichal (sp?) Pinot blanc (I think that is the name. Had a wonderful warm goatcheese with heirloom tomatoes salad that I can still taste the spring time in it.

When Gary Danko left Beringars as the Executive chef of the Hudson house he went over to Alexander valley to head up the kitchen at Ch Souverain. He prepared a great meal for us.

2000 I went to dine at his namesake in San fran and had a beautiful meal (duck procuitto still stands out)

When Todd Humpfries was the chef at the CIA's Greystone restaurant I had a super meal,very innovative and pretty to look at.

I'm at work,so i'll look at my notes tonight to remember where else I ate :)

Thanks again
Brad
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #4 of 14
Dear Brad,

We seem to have precisely the same taste in restaurants. Our absolute favorite is Terra and Bistro Jeanty is a close second. We frequently dine at Pinot Blanc because I dream of the veal cheeks with gnocchi.

Todd Humphries just opened a new restaurant in St. Helena called "Martini House" that I am looking forward to and I still have not made it to the French Laundry.

I love the CIA at Greystone, there are many events such as the Mustard Festival and others staged in their beautiful halls.

And I couldn't agree with you more agout Riesling! My husband recieved two masters degrees, one in enology and one in viticulture, from a German University and one of his great loves is the Riesling grape. I don't think many American truly appreciate this noble variety.

Leslie
post #5 of 14

RIELSLING

IMHO Americans don't appreciate sweet wines, including Sauternes. My tastes go opposite, I love 'em and don't care all that much for dry whites.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
post #6 of 14

Napa & Riesling

Hi Leslie,

I enjoy Napa and try to come up (I'm in Ventura County) as often as possible. The French Laundry is an experience, but it isn't the best place in the area - in my opinion. We were there in January and were somewhat disappointed by the experience. But, it is a place that one should experience once in his/her life just to say "I've been there."

Riesling - I too enjoy a good Riesling. A somewhat sweeter Riesling really works well with spicy seafood, in my opinion. I did a quick search for Mansfield wines, but was unable to find anything. Can you give us a little information about your winery and types of wines produced? Do you have a website?

Many thanks!
Becca
post #7 of 14
Hear, hear for Riesling and Gevurtz! I agree w/Koko that not many folks are big fans of the sweet stuff. In my own, informal research, I have found that many chefs and cooks are big fans of the stuff, but in general, most are not. Go figure!
Leslie, could you tell us how we might happen upon some your namesake vino? Maybe Becca and I can split the cost on a case
;)

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Dear Leslie,

I think slowly but surely the Riesling is catching on in the states.

Sometimes as a chef with a "fair" background in wine I feel it is my responsibility to try to educate my clients palate.

We Americans need to remember that we are years behind in vinaculture. I mean that with respect. I think that Americans where so pumped up on producing excellent Cabernets and Chardonnays that it wasn't sure that anything else mattered as far as wine is concerned.

Riesling is another pocket of wine in the states that will eventually flourish.

Jim and Becca, count me in on the case of vino.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #9 of 14
Dear Jim, Brad, Becca, and Kokopuffs,
Wow! What a great thread. I never dreamed that it would divert into my other passion, namely wine! I have to admit that my husband Richard has been most responsible for my wine education. Granted, while at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, wine was an essential part of the instruction (and life!), but before I ramble on further, I am going to get my husband to answer and comment on this thread.

Leslie.


Hi. Pardon me if I am a bit awkward, I too am a newcomer to this forum. More at home in the cellar than in cyberspace.

Grateful for the love I have seen for the Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscats. That is why I went to Geisenheim (the best University for winemaking in Germany) and why I first located to Oregon. I agree totally, there is hardly a more versatile grape than Riesling for cuisine. I am now in the Napa Valley with Leslie pursuing the great Bordeaux reds, but I still have a passion for those Northern grapes.
Down here in Napa, in addition to the reds, Leslie and I produced a fantastic Muscat entirely in the Alsatian style. Neutral cooperage aged, totally dry. More like a dry Vendange Tardive than what anyone has ever experienced otherwise. We have a few cases left and would love to share it with you. Our name for the wines of that vintage was Kiodote', a rare fruit bat which we grew to respect during our times in the South Pacific... but I digress.

We are releasing our first red this April, a Merlot from what we think is one of the finest vineyards in the best appellation in St. Helena, just down the road from our house. Leslie picked the leaves out of the picking bins and after fermentation we aged it in the best French Marchive F.O. barrels. Huge fruit, dry but amazing concentration. The acidity makes it more of a food wine than most of the plump wines one finds in the market. We went back to our own name for that vintage, so it will be labeled as "Mansfield". The label resembles that of an old book spine, which is the connection we both share.

If you are interested in this wine, send us an e-mail to our private box and we will arrange everything.

I thank you for the chance to join this forum and I wish you all inspiration in the kitchen, dining hall and in the cellar.

Richard Mansfield
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Dear Leslie,

Thank you for sharing your husband Richard with us. :)

I would truely love to get my hands on your Muscat,i'm a huge fan of Alsatian wine.I find a lot of reasonably priced Pinot Gris and Blances that are a pleasure to drink.

It's a good time to be a fan of Riesling seeing how incredible the 2000 and 2001 vintages are,J.J Prum,Maxinum Grunhauser and Oster-Selbach are some of the wines i've tasted recently and all we're quite dramatic.

I don't want to get to far off topic,but i'm curious to know how much new oak did you use in your Muscat and Merlot.

again
many thanks
Brad
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #11 of 14
I'm unsure of which winery it was but I think that it was (still is?) Sutter Home Vinyards who produced a Moscato Amabile way back in the 70's and 80's that tasted sweet. I liked it.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
post #12 of 14
Hi,,- this is husband Richard
For Cape Chef!
The Muscat was fermented totally dry, then aged in neutral cooperage. I took the barrique barrels (bordeaux 60 gallon size), turned them bung down, and piped live steam in to condense and remove any residual oak flavors. This is an old German method to make barrels totally neutral. I then barrel fermented the Muscat, left it sur lie until bottling in April. No fining. Interestingly enough, if the wine is chilled too far, the natural pectins coalesce and induce a cold haze which disappears when the wine returns to drinking temperature. I could have used industrial pectinase preparations to degrade the pectin prior to bottling, but inasmuch as I am trying to pursue the organic approach, I did not feel right using Aspergillus niger mold extracts to stabilize the wine. It is what it is and I am very proud of the dense rich flavors. Vive la natural.

As for the oak regimen in the Merlot, I am not a fan of overoaked reds. The fruit must be in relation to the oak. For the 2001 vintage, I chose 50% new oak, but selected French Oak bordeaux barrels from the Marchive cooperage - a big hit of sweet vanilla, but left it in the oak only 10 months, did not want the fruit to become overwhelmed. It is definitely a fruit forward Merlot with amazing length. The mid palate is a climax which follows a strong attack. I did not do the "modern Napa' method of bottling high pH which gives immediate hedonistic qualities but no longevity. No, I left a substantial acidity to the wine, the pH is 3.6, and the wine should hold up nicely to aging over many years. One obvious advantage to good acidity is how food friendly the wine is. Acid stimulates the salivary response. This helps refresh the palate. I am soo sick of fat and flabby wines. Wines need balance, should be rich, not cloying, should have components which age, should leave one wanting more. This Merlot is definitely such a wine. Can't tell I'm proud of this particular vintage - can you?

Hope this answers some enological questions. Hope you found pleasure in my reply. Would love to have you enjoy the wine.

Richard Mansfield
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Yes Richard, I very much enjoyed your post.

When you leave the wine on the lees,do you remove it before bottling or do you let it sink to the bottom of the barrel since you don't practice fining this particular wine?

Your Merlot also sounds terrific. I do not like flabby wines at all,many tend to be produced for instint consumption with the tannins being almost non existent. Merlot really has taken off in theis country in the past decade,but I believe many Americans have not had the good fortune to drink a fine Pomerol and see what a true Merlot based wine taste like.

Not that the states have not produced some excellent one's (Duckhorn)was one I used to like.
Richard, Are your wines availible in New York?

Thanks for your time,and Leslie thanks for sharing your husband. It's a real pleasure for me to be able to chat with a winemaker.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #14 of 14
I sure do enjoy my Sterling Merlots purchased in the mid to late 70's, long before anyone became familiar with their subtle, dry, musty glory. There's no better excuse to open one than a Denver blizzard! :bounce:

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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