Wines of the Week: Napa Valley’s Art + Farm & an Evening with Owner & Winemaker Kat McDonald!

Chef Remy and Winemaker Kat McDonald

April’s installment of “The Art of Wine & Food” at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale featured a very special guest who joined us for “An Evening of Breaking All the Rules!” The fabulous Kat McDonald is the Owner and Winemaker of Napa’s Art + Farm Winery whose goal is to exalt the art of farming through their wines. The result of Kat and her husband Rob’s efforts is a selection of wines which highlight a unique approach to winemaking and the special land they come from.

We were also fortunate to have Chef Remy Gautier of Argentelle Catering with us for the evening who created dishes specifically to pair with each of our wines. Chef Remy is a master at adapting his delightful French-inspired cuisine to accommodate wines from all over the world!

The first wine of the evening was the girls in the vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, 2011. Kat explained that “the girls” is her term of endearment for the vines and “the girls in the vineyard” are all single vineyard wines meant to be enjoyed with food and preferably in the company of friends and family. The vines for this particular wine hail from Lake county, located an hour north of Napa proper. The soil here is comprised of the remains of an ancient riverbed with gravelly soils which is perfect for growing Sauvignon Blanc. This wine was crisp, fresh and lovely with delightful notes of citrus, white peach and guava that elicited “oohs” and “aahs” from the group. Fermenting it entirely in stainless steel preserved its lovely minerality and juicy acidity that cut through the richness of Chef Remy’s Tulipe de Smoked Salmon Fume with Light Cream Cheese. This wine is also perfect for sipping by the pool, enjoying at sunset or on any given Tuesday night and is a natural match for anything you would squeeze a lemon on! Price: $15

Our second wine was the Circadia California Chardonnay, 2010 which is part of a family of wines crafted to celebrate the journey of life. Kat explained that the term “Circadia” refers to the circadian rhythms of daily life. The label also has special significance in that each golden dot featured on it represents a special geographic point on a map significant to the making of this wine. Kat also revealed something quite shocking to the group: she is not a fan of Chardonnay! However, upon experimenting with the fruit and combining Chardonnay fermented in stainless steel with Chardonnay that has spent time in French oak the result something quite special and our group definitely agreed! This wine had crisp, fresh notes of citrus and apple along with richer tropical fruit flavors and a delightful flourish of vanilla and toast from the oak influence. The creamy texture of the wine echoed the creaminess of Chef Remy’s Chicken Veronique, which featured a delicious tarragon cream sauce and sliced green grapes, beautifully! Price: $20

As we moved into red wine territory, we started with The Messenger Red Wine Number One, a non-vintage offering that nicely represented the credo of the Art + Farm “Messenger” series which, unlike the single vineyard focused the girls in the vineyard wines, aims to layer vintages, vineyards and varietals in order to obtain luscious flavor. The Messenger wines serve as an expression of the land that grew them and the hands they encountered along the way. This particular wine (lot #612) is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (58%), Merlot (19%), Montepulciano (12%), Malbec (8%) and Cabernet Franc (3%) hailing from a variety of regions and counties including Lake County, Napa, Sonoma, Dry Creek and Amador’s Shenandoah Valley. The result is a luscious, juicy red that is imminently enjoyable with notes of ripe raspberry, blackberry and plum accompanied by supple tannins and a lengthy finish. While this wine paired deliciously well with Chef Remy’s Puff Pastry with Strawberry Compote and Magret of Duck it is also a great pairing for casual fare such as pizza, burgers and BBQ. It’s lively flavors just keep you coming back for more! Price: $16

Our fourth and final wine of the evening was the girls in the vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011. The sustainably farmed Beckstoffer Family Amber Knolls Vineyard is where these girls call home. They enjoy bright intense sunlight moderated by cooling sea breezes and as they look up from their 2,000-2,400 ft. elevation, they enjoy a stunning panorama of Clear Lake and Mt. Konocti, gazing on the morning fog below. Looking down, they can usually see themselves reflected in the obsidian rocks mixed throughout the bright red, volcanic soil. On the nose, this Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits notes of blackberry, plum and red currant accompanied by flavors of cassis and bramble fruit with a hint of earth and cocoa. The mouthfeel is silky and rich with a lingering finish. This wine’s appreciable tannins and acidity indicate it will also improve with additional bottle age. This wine is a natural match for flavorful cuisine such as burgers or steak and paired deliciously well with Filet of Beef on Garlic Roasted Potato! Price: $18

The Art + Farm wines represent a unique approach to crafting wine and I applaud Kat and Rob McDonald’s commitment to diversity, producing wines with both a single vineyard focus as well as multi vintage offerings all in the name of producing great wines that celebrate the art of farming. Their collection of wines represents a tremendous value for the quality and make them a wonderful choice for your “house wine” to sip and savor with friends and family – they will thank you for it! In addition to discussing her wines, Kat also regaled us with stories about life on the farm and the antics of the chickens and bees and extolled the benefits of having fresh eggs and honey on hand – who can argue with that?!

Big thanks to Howard Freedland of Bulletproof Wine & Spirits and Kat McDonald of Art + Farm Winery for sponsoring our event! Guests thoroughly enjoyed an evening of breaking all the rules and learning about these very special wines. To purchase these wines from The Wine Atelier, please click here. Please join us on Thursday, May 23rd for an “Homage to Fromage” where we will explore winning wine and cheese pairings perfect for entertaining! For more details or to purchase tickets, please click here.