510 864 WINE (9463)  ♦  866 931 WINE (9463) ♦ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Feb 25 Newsletter


Feb 25, 2013

Dear Friend of Farmstead: 

Cheese of the Week: Montasio  I've been thinking about Montasio lately, for several reasons:  the recipe below, and some vacation research I've been doing for the summer.

We've brought in a wheel of medium-aged Montasio (e.g. the one in the center of the photo above) , a raw cow's milk cheese from NE Italy. Montasio is the only DOP cheese of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, specifically Carnia, the northern portion of the province of Udine where the Alps meet the Adriatic. The cheese originated about 300 years ago in and around Tolmezzo, supposedly the invention of a lonely Alpine monk with a herd of cows to milk and some free time on his hands. Today the official production zone also extends to portions of the Veneto, but Friulians justly claim Montasio as their own.

Montasio producers will tell you that its unique characteristics are the result of three basic ingredients: the sweet grasses and hay of the land, the crisp air of the mountains, and the milk that results from this happy combination. The consortium that governs the production of Montasio monitors the cheese making process with a watchful eye; only milk from dairy farms within the DOP production area may be used. The cheeses are shaped into large, flat wheels, each bearing the official consortium stamp and numbered to identify the producer and the date of production. Montasio is classified and sold according to its age. At 2 months the interior is ivory-white, soft, dotted with holes and considered “fresco,” or fresh, with a tangy, grassy flavor. After 5 months it transitions to “mezzano” or semi-aged; the color turns slightly golden, the texture becomes firmer, and the flavor begins to deepen. After 10 months or more, Montasio becomes “stagionato,” or aged, with a deeper, nuttier flavor, straw-like color and firm texture.

Montasio is a wonderful table cheese, perfect for enjoying with one of Friuli-Venezia Giulia’s excellent white wines, a savory mostarda, or one of the luscious stone fruits that are grown in Friuli, such as peaches, plums, and cherries. Try grating some Montasio over hot pasta or gnocchi in a simple butter sauce with a sprinkling of poppy seeds, or melting it over roasted wild mushrooms. Montasio is the also the cheese that is used to make frico, a beloved dish that is relatively unknown outside of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, but somewhat of an icon of Friulian cuisine. A frico is basically a thin “cake” of grated Montasio, cooked in hot pan with a bit of olive oil. An aged Montasio will result in a crispy frico, while a younger cheese will make a fricco that is soft and melting in the center.

Frico Recipe  If you've never tasted frico, you're in for a delightful treat. Basically fried cheese, frico is a main staple in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. A simple dish, Montasio cheese is fried in a pan with olive oil similar to a pancake until hardened and crisp. It's then broken up and eaten as a snack or appetizer. It may also be cooked in a manner that will resemble an omelet.

These cheese crisps can be made in a nonstick sauté pan one by one, but it's more efficient to make them in batches on baking sheets in the oven. The goal is to let the cheese melt to create a texture that's lacy but that still holds together, so be sure to sprinkle the cheese lightly. Serve as an hors d'oeuvre or to garnish a green salad.

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with silicone mat.  Working in 2 batches, scoop 8 mounds of finely grated Montasio cheese (in a pinch you can use Reggiono or Gran Kinara) - 1 tablespoon per mound -  onto mat, spreading each mound about 3 inch wide and spacing at least 1 inch apart.

Bake cheese until light brown and melted, 5–6 minutes (check occasionally while baking so it won't turn too brown). Remove sheet from oven and let frico cool completely. (To shape frico, leave baking sheet in oven with door open; use a small offset spatula to remove frico one at a time, working quickly to shape. To form tuile-like shapes, gently roll warm frico around the handle of a wooden spoon. To form cups, press onto the bottom and up the sides of a mini muffin pan. Keep frico warm until ready to mold; it hardens quickly as it cools.)

$$ Dollar Tastings $$: This  week at the Tasting Bar, we've got some great wines on tap for youredumacational and tasting pleasure - we're featuring a few recent arrivals to our shelves, plus a recent Wine Picks selection, and an amazing Rioja

  • Hugl Gruner Veltliner
  • Beaupré Rosé
  • Finca Sobreno Toro
  • Porque No Red Blend
  • Valsacro Rioja


We pour wine in Alameda on Thursdays 5:00-7:30 and Saturdays 2-5; and in Montclair Village on Fridays from 5:00-7:30 and Saturdays from 2-5. 

Tastings cost $1 per person per flight.That's right, five  wines for a Dollar! 

By law all wine shops have to charge for their tastings - so since you have to pay something anyways, why not taste at a shop where all of the tasting fee goes to one of your local schools??

Here at Farmstead, all proceeds from our tastings benefit local schools, with  all moneys in February going  to Montera Middle School in Oakland, and in March going to Nea Community Learning Center in Alameda (Alameda's first K-12 Charter School).   Last year, we donated almost$10,000 to local schools in direct donations and auction support to local schools, and we're on track to smash that number!

Rosé Club and Case Club  It's been a while since I've touted our Wine Clubs, so I thought I'd remind y'all of the benefits

  • a Wine Club-specific newsletter chock full of descriptions, histories and anecdotes about the club selections
  • significant discounts on Wine Club wines and most other wines in the shop
  • the comforting knowledge that you are directly supporting a small, family owned independent retail shop that's a part of your local community.
  • Low cost shipping available  (in CA, AZ and NV)

I like to think of our Wine Clubs as sort of a Wine CSA (except I guess that the A should be substitued for a W, for wine).  

Unless you request it, we don't ship the wine - rather we send out a newsletter telling you that your allocation is ready; you come down and pick it up, simple as that.    We ask that you stay a member for at least four months, and that you're in the Wine Club until you tell us otherwise.  

At any rate, we have thirteen flavors of Wine Club here at Farmstead - one for almost everyone's wine palate and budget!

Interested?  Click here to send us an email.  We'll need your name, email address, telephone number and the name of the club you are interested in.

Let me tout our two newest clubs - Rosé and Case.  Our Rosé Club is very fun - and focuses on the glories of Rosé wine - one to three bottles per month (a total of $30-60 per allocation).  Rosé wine is on fire as a category, with over 25% growth nationally (and nearly 40% here @ Farmstead!). 

Our selections are all dry rosés, made by quality winemakers - this ain't your Momma's White Zinfandel!

Our Case Club is designed for the everyday wine drinker who's looking for a broad selection of wines every month.  The club is a combination of our Bargain Club (six bottles per month in the $9-17 per bottle range), and the Classic Club (4 bottles in the $17-30 range), plus two other hand selected wines. It runs around $200 for the case, give or take.  

Wine Picks Newsletter  We started a second newsletter a few months ago focusing on onediscounted wine per week.  It's going great guns, and you should subscribe to it post haste

(Click on link, click on 'Newsletter' , enter your email address and check the "Farmstead Wine Picks" check box.  Or you can just respond to this newsletter and ask me to sign you up and I'll take care of it!)

We'll continue to post last week's offers in this newsletter for a while, but remember, the wine below was offered last week, and supplies are always limited on these wines!

How About a Great
Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 
for $16.20/bottle in MAGNUM??

We love Cabernets from Argentina, their bold, easy to appreciate style makes them dinner party friendly!


Maipe Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red has an intense purple color and nose of ripe black currants followed with a complex palate showing black fruits, red pepper, mint and chocolate framed with medium tannins ending in a long, smooth finish.  The fruit and tannins are perfectly balanced to give a wine of excellent structure making it ideal for grilled meats, game, pasta or pizza.

Maipe is produced in a state-of-the-art winery, Chakana, built with the purpose of achieving outstanding quality.  Chakana was founded by Juan Pelizzatti in 2002.

Juan's mission is to introduce world consumers to the taste and culture of the Andes. His vision is to become one of the top 20 exporters of wine from Argentina, by consistently offering outstanding value for money.

"Alberto Antonini (think Altos Las Hormigas) is a consultant at Maipe which in and of itself is an indicator that the winery is focused on quality." - Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate


 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35-40 year old vines.   Mostly tank fermented and aged, w/10%  aged in American oak for 3 months.

"Direct and juicy, featuring a solid core of crushed currant and fig fruit backed by a hefty dose of roasted cocoa." - Wine Spectator


The winemaking process is focused on treating the grapes with great care and with strict control of every step of the production. Wines are designed under the responsibility of the renowned international wine consultant Alberto Antonini.

The winery is located on a 150 ha. estate, 34 km South of the city of Mendoza, in Agrelo, Lujan de Cuyo. The grapes grown are 35 year-old Malbec, Bonarda and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Deep and textured soils facilitate plant development and confer great body and structure to the wines. The year-long sunny and dry conditions allow almost organic viticulture practices. The outstanding feature includes a great daily thermal amplitude, with mild days and cold nights, permitting a particular richness of polifenols that improves the wines flavors and color.

Was $22 per bottle, now $18/btl through the end of April 2013

$17.10/btl for 6 bottles

$16.20 per bottle in a 12 pack!
(Prices valid through 4/30/2013, then back up to $22/btl)  


Want Some?
CALL US!!              866 931 WINE (9463)

or respond to this e-mail
either way, please have your credit card handy!

510 864 WINE (9463)  ♦  866 931 WINE (9463) ♦ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.