CONTINUUM ESTATE’S EVO

May 3rd, 2011

 

Continuum Estate olive trees,  May 2011

Continuum Estate olive trees, May 2011

One of the great things about Continuum Estate is that it grows more than great wine. I mean for most wineries that would be enough and, yes, we are incredibly grateful for the superior quality Cabernet family fruit which grows so very well here in the red, rocky clay soils of the Vaca Range. Yet, in addition, we quite happily enjoy a second harvest which, while not as abundant, is just as delicious. I am referring to the compelling and quite rare extra virgin olive oil grown at our estate.  2010 marks the third bottling of the Continuum EVO and many of us believe that it is the best yet. How do we do it? Well first of all we start with a good number of trees, 543 to be exact. These olive trees are planted on different parts of the estate, some around the barn and guest house, others higher up closer to the proposed winery site. Our olive trees come in 3 different flavors, French, Italian and Spanish, and were planted at various times though most were planted in 1991-93.
The Spanish trees are a variety of mission variety, many of which were originally brought to California by the Catholic fathers in the 18th and 19th century. These olives tend to be medium sized and darker in color and have a distinctive flavor of chlorophyll with a decidedly buttery texture making for luscious oil with a bit of a bite.  Just a sixth of the estate olive trees are planted to these so-called Mission varieties.
The French varieties, Picholine predominantly, originally from Provence are more extensive at a third of the plantings on the estate. These have a pretty fresh mushroom like aroma but are rather pungent with a greater degree of bitterness than either the Mission or the Italian varieties. On their own they can be too strong but in a blend their distinct character is brought into balance.
Finally, we have our Italian varieties with a wide variety of trees planted including Frontaio, Sevillano and Pendolino clones. Some of these varieties are Tuscan while others are found further south, some from as far away as North Africa. These trees provide over half of the production and, not surprisingly, the final blend has a distinctly Italian flavor profile. This oil is quite rich with an earthy green color and lush flavor and texture. The nose has a lovely floral note of violet and nasturtium blossoms.

When all these varieties are blended together, a fabulous oil results….. Our 2010 Continuum Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a deep golden green in color with aromas of fresh mown hay, mint and new spring vegetables. On the palate, the oil is rich and sensual with a touch of green tea and white pepper. The finish is wonderfully balanced: buttery, smooth and complex.

It really is not only the best oil we have made; it is one of the best oils we have ever tasted. Unfortunately, with less than an acre of trees, we are not able to produce very much oil. We suggest that you use it sparingly on seasonal cooked or raw foods before serving. Enjoy it later this summer with fresh, ripe tomatoes or drizzle it over just grilled steak or savor it with toasted crostini topped with fresh mozzarella.  After you have tasted this golden green oil, we know you will enjoy this second harvest from Continuum Estate just as much as we do.

Buon appetito!

After two long years of back and forth on architectural designs, countless reports and working with Napa County to get all the documentation they need for a Use Permit, it looks like it’s all coming to an exciting conclusion. On April 20th the final county hearing takes place, after which (fingers crossed!) we will receive our Use Permit and start construction on the new Continuum winery. We will likely begin work in early May, strangely enough right around the same time as our Spring Release Party, or should I say, Groundbreaking Party? The construction work will start slow, beginning with road work and grading of the site. This will turn into cave drilling over the winter and into the spring of next year. Construction on the winery building itself will then start with a targeted completion date of Harvest 2013.

The winery and caves will be located at one of the highest points on the property, just over 1,500 feet in elevation on the very east side of the estate, nestled in between two vineyard blocks. With Howard Backen as the architect and general contractors Grassi and Company, you can expect to see a winery that not only emphasizes the all important functional aspects but also captures the beauty of the site while incorporating an elegantly designed building that is well integrated with the land. Vistas from the property will allow you to view the Mondavi family’s winemaking history in the Napa Valley, starting with Charles Krug Winery to the north, then Oakville and Robert Mondavi Winery to the west, leading up the hill to today and Continuum’s vineyards on Pritchard Hill. As an added bonus, to the south, there will be great views of San Francisco in the distance.

The completion of the winery will culminate an exciting two year period at the Estate with our new 19 acre vineyard coming on line for the Harvest of 2012, joined by the winery in 2013. This is really an important step for us as harvest 2012 will be the first time we will have the opportunity to be 100% estate based for our production. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot we will harvest from the new high density plantings when combined with our already established old vine Cabernet Sauvignon will take us to the next stage of Continuum’s evolution.

While the acquisition of the Continuum Estate properties in 2008 and 2009 allowed us to notch up our quality level, the new plantings coming on line and the ability to have our own estate winemaking facility will provide the opportunity to take Continuum to an even higher level and bring us one step closer to the ultimate goal of becoming one of the greatest wine estates in the world.

Continuum has gone thru quite a number of changes in its short history. In the course of 6 years we have gone from “we have only just begun” (not a bad Carpenters song either) in 2005 to establishing our estate in 2009 “take me home, country roads” (one of John Denver’s best) to 2011’s breaking ground “we’re gonna take it higher” (from the godfather himself, James Brown). All pretty exciting and we sure hope to see you at the estate over the next few years so that we can show you the progress we have made and of course at the party in 2013/14 once it is all done.

Have a great day and see you soon!!!

Greg Brady

General Manager
Continuum Estate

Tim’s take on the 2008!

March 1st, 2011

2008 Continuum 6 pack in wooden box

2008 Continuum 6 pack in wooden box

We are extremely excited about the new release of Continuum. This wine, the 2008, is our fourth offering and the first to reveal the true flavor of this amazing Pritchard Hill property. More than 70% of the blend was sourced from up here, high above Oakville on the eastern side of the Napa Valley. You can really taste the vineyard in the wine. This is what we have been working to make from the first, a wine reflective of our history, our passion for Cabernet family grapes and the fabulous character of our vineyard.
Below are a few notes on this stellar vintage-
2008 was the second year in a row of drought-like conditions with rainfall down by more than 60% Napa- wide. Bud break began in mid-March after more than a month of dry weather which set the stage for a hard frost, from late March to mid April; 27 days of serious cold hit the Napa Valley. Happily Continuum’s estate vineyards on Pritchard Hill were protected from most vagaries of the weather as a result of our higher elevations and westerly aspect. A heat spike during flowering in May did lower our crop levels but weather patterns were fairly mild from that point on until late August, when a week-long temperature jump pushed picking forward. However, no sooner did the heat arrive than it left again and the remainder of the harvest proceeded under cooler than normal conditions. Overall fruit quality from the estate was very good to excellent in 2008. Our non-estate growers also did well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot; Cabernet Franc was more uneven with some lots very good, while others underperformed and so did not make the grade.
All fruit was harvested over a period of five weeks from September 18 through October 25th with the Merlot and then the Cabernet Sauvignon harvested initially and the Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc picked last.
The 2008 Continuum is wonderfully balanced and deeply sensual wine; we believe it is the finest wine we have ever made. The majority of the fruit, more than 70%, is from our Pritchard Hill estate vineyards and these higher elevation sites with their red rocky soils grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Merlot with real nerve, vitality and concentration. In general, the 2008 lots, especially those from Pritchard Hill, had a wild, mineral power and texture which is readily apparent in the finished wine. The 2008 has great density and life: a powerful core of ripe fruit perfectly balanced by polished, supple tannins leading to a long, nuanced finish. Aromas of black plum, mulberry, and coffee spice lead to black cherry, bitter chocolate, tobacco and graphite flavors. A wine of exquisite power and elegance, its inherent harmony and balance make it delicious now, while assuring tremendous ageabilty.

For the fullest sensory experience we encourage decanting, allowing Continuum to breathe before serving. Decanting awakens the wine’s more purely fragrant expression and enhances the suppleness on the palate.

Our goal at Continuum Estate is to produce a single wine to be recognized among the finest in the world. As Sir Isaac Newton stated: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” For our family, my grandfather Cesare was a giant. It was on his shoulders that my father Robert stood with his great vision for wine. It is our aspiration to build solidly on this foundation as we realize the potential of this incredible site on Pritchard Hill. We don’t expect this to happen overnight, or in a decade, or even in a single generation, but we will make it happen, vintage by vintage.
My family and I thank you for your support and appreciation.
In continuum,

Tim Mondavi

Lindsey Maldonado, Direct Sales Coordinator, Continuum Estate

Lindsey Maldonado, Direct Sales Coordinator, Continuum Estate

Greetings from Continuum Estate!
As I sit here, cross legged on a massive andesite boulder I’m distracted by the beauty that surrounds me. Vineyards in the foreground, San Francisco in the distance…What an amazing part of the world this is!
One of the highlights of working here is to be able to take in these sweeping views every day. Even better is when I get to share the estate with the occasional visitor we are lucky enough to have up here.
Still, our location…or should I say the road to our location does not lend itself well to much traffic and while we can have the occasional car or two bump along up the hill for a visit, we would like to try to bring Continuum to you. And with about 70 percent estate fruit in the 2008 vintage, we now have the ability to bottle this site and take it “on the road.”
This year, in addition to hosting wine dinners, we will be hosting pre-dinner wine tasting receptions at fabulous restaurants throughout the country. Information for all of these events will be posted on our website as well as our Facebook page under the “Events” section. We will also be reaching out to those of you on our mailing list as we schedule events in your neck of the woods.

The first of these events will be taking place on February 17th in San Francisco at Foreign Cinema. Tim Mondavi will be hosting the dinner event and will be pouring four vintages of Continuum! We would love to have you join us and, of course, your friends are always welcome. www.foreigncinema.com. For those on the East Coast, Carissa Mondavi will be hosting two dinners: first on February 23rd in Washington, DC as part of the Capital Wine Festival http://www.capitalwinefestival.com . Then a wonderful meal as Chef Daniel Bruce joins Carissa on February the 24th at the Boston Wine Festival http://www.bostonwinefestival.net . Finally, for those in New York, partner and founder Marcia Mondavi, along with Carissa, will be hosting a dinner on March 1 at the acclaimed Crab Tree Kittle House-http://www.kittlehouse.com.

For those of you that have been calling and e-mailing me…the wait for the 2008 vintage is almost over! The wine is slated to be released on March 1st. If you are new to our mailing list, please mark the date on your calendar as the limited quantity of wine is made available on a first come, first served basis and if the last few years are any indication, it will go quickly.
I’m looking very forward to the year ahead and keeping you in the loop as things develop. Please feel to contact me at anytime. It’s always lovely to hear from you!

All the Best and Cheers,
Lindsey Maldonado

Direct to Consumer Coordinator
Telephone: 707.944.8100 ext.212

Chef Sarah’s culinary continuum

January 2nd, 2011

Chef Sarah Scott, Continuum Estate

I remember when I first started cooking for the Mondavi’s and, in particular, one occasion with Tim and his family in the mid-80s. It was at his then, newly constructed home in the Stag’s Leap District. I was in the kitchen prepping for dinner, head down, peeling garlic and shallots, picking fresh thyme and parsley and tending to the sauce. I looked up and saw that I was surrounded by a small sea of red- and blonde-haired children. They weren’t even tall enough to reach the top of the marble counter. And, they were all staring at me!
“Who are you and what are you doing?” one of them bravely asked.
“I’m the chef and I’m making dinner,” I said.
They considered this.
“Can we help? We know how.”
I surveyed the tiny crew then handed over the bunch of parsley. Soon, little fingers were deftly plucking the leaves from the stems and there was a busy, contented feeling in the kitchen.
Not much has changed over the last 25 years.
When they are around, I still look up to find Carissa, Carlo, Chiara, Dante and Dominic, Tim’s children, in the kitchen when I am cooking at Continuum. Still curious, still asking questions and still wanting to help. I will hand over a pile of fava beans to be shelled, bunches of basil to be picked or a loaf of bread to be sliced and grilled for bruschetta. Everyone’s taller now, some of them tower over me, but that love of food is alive and well in this family and at Continuum in its pleasurable and very serious pursuit of bringing wine and food together.

This past year at Continuum brought a variety of roast beasts, wild and foraged foods and the bounty of our Napa Valley food producers and farmers to the table. My co-author, Connie Green, and I were generously and enthusiastically supported by Continuum in the launch of our cookbook The Wild Table. It led to a year of exploring the various properties in new ways. Connie brought a small troop of us, including Tim, Marcia and Carissa, into the woods next to Tim’s house one drizzly day, baskets and mushroom knives in hand. We emerged an hour or so later with candy cap mushrooms, miner’s lettuce and chickweed. These became ingredients for a later meal featuring spit-roasted wild boar, malfatti with wild greens and candy cap mushroom crème brulee. The boar was hunted and prepared by fabled hunter/forager Angelo Garro aided by his trusty sous chef, author Michael Pollan. It was an omnivore’s wild feast and the weaving together of wine and food not only in a literal way, but philosophically as well. Terroir, Sustainable, Natural and Local. These words took on a new, delicious meaning that night.

Not only were wild mushrooms and foraged foods on the menu often this past year, but roasted goat became a new favorite. We cooked several locally raised goats, one occasion being the Continuum 2007 vintage release pick up party and later in the fall for a group of Michelin-starred Japanese Chefs visiting for the World of Flavors Conference at the Culinary Institute at Greystone in St. Helena. Roasted slowly over seasoned oak, basted with rosemary and sage from Tim’s garden, the rich, deeply flavored meat was delicious with all the vintages of Continuum. I had picked up a variety of ancient grains on a trip to New York’s Green Market and made a side dish of kamut, spelt, farro and amaranth to go with the goat, along with some roasted wild mushrooms. Dessert was a pistachio tart with Tim’s home-grown, hand harvested pears. The chefs lingered a long while that day, nourished by the wine, the food and that well-seasoned Continuum hospitality.

We look forward to more delicious events and meals in 2011. We will continue to enjoy the variety of locally sourced beef, lamb, duck, guinea hen, artisan cheeses and charcuterie that pair so well with the wine. Wild mushrooms, elderberries, fennel and juniper have proven to be delicious complementary flavors and we will be heading off the beaten track to forage for them in their seasons. Soon it will be time to fire up the grill, to set the table, uncork the wine. We’ll gather together once again with old and new friends, savoring the good life which is alive and well at Continuum Estate.
Happy New Year,

Sarah

Sarah Patterson Scott, Chef, Writer and Continuum Estate Culinary Consultant, served as Executive Chef at Robert Mondavi Winery for 14 years, overseeing and developing the Culinary and Wine and Food Programs at the Oakville winery. She has travelled extensively, participating in wine and food programs globally. Sarah’s culinary business provides wine and food experiences, consulting and recipes for wineries, restaurants and private clients in the Napa Valley. She produced her first cookbook in 2010, The Wild Table, with wild foods expert Connie Green of Wine Forest Wild Mushrooms, published by Viking Press.