New York, New York Steak

I just ate 10 steaks in one hour!

Recently, I was asked to evaluate 10 different cuts of steak from two different beef suppliers for an upcoming restaurant opening. All of the beef was Certified Angus or Prime and all the steaks were prepared the same way (salt and pepper over a flame grill) by chef Tommy Chavez. I paired each steak with three of my wines, 2014 Cab Franc, 2014 Superstrada (Sangiovese/Cab Sav) and 2015 RWSC (Bordeaux Blend).


What did I learn?


First, that I consumed about 3 pounds of beef! More importantly, not all steaks are created equally and no two steaks paired equally well with the same wine. All the steaks were delicious, as it’s difficult to go wrong with prime steaks expertly cooked, but there were differences in texture, density, ‘meaty’ flavor, chew, tenderness, and fat content.

The most dramatic difference in flavor, texture and wine pairing was a prime bone-in New York strip (Club steak) versus the prime boneless NY strip.

My 2014 Cabernet Franc and 2014 Superstrada paired nicely with the boneless NY strip. Complimentary flavors, the steak was lean and well textured, my wines integrated well with this classic restaurant cut.

Change gears to a longer cooked bone-in NY strip a.k.a. Club steak and suddenly the integration of the wine with the steak changed. The bone itself was flat and nearly 2 inches wide and covered the length of the strip, which effected cooking time. Whatever the bone and cooking time did to change the flavor profile of the steak was dramatic enough to favor a more tannic and heavy-weight wine. The Cab Franc didn’t have enough heft or tannin to hold up to the Club steak. Superstrada was good, but showed better with other steaks.

Enter the 2015 RWSC.


The 2015 RWSC is my 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc from Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, with a 50% new Minnesota 36 month medium toast water bent oak and 50% neutral oak profile. Yes, I’m being very specific about my oak. Simply calling it “American oak” is an inadequate generalization.

While the 15 RWSC paired well with nearly every steak in the line-up (except perhaps the filet mignon where the wine overwhelmed the lean cut), it shined with the Club steak. This is where some combination of alchemy, meat sweats, and badly needing a plate of fries might be affecting my palate, but it was an enlightening moment in the tasting. How could one wine and one steak pair so well together? Why is this pairing so outstanding? This isn’t just me bragging about my wine. I’m sure other wines would have paired wonderfully, but in that moment, with those selections, the RWSC shined bright.

Next time I’m asked to evaluate steaks, I’m bringing more wine.

The Road to Expensive Non-Vintage Red Wine: Thanks Penfolds!

I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of all winemakers to thank Penfolds for making a non-vintage red wine and charging $3000 a bottle for it.

Winemakers around the world have been greatly anticipating charging $3000 a bottle for non-vintage red wine.

An American example of non-vintage wine, the Mastro Scheidt Jug! It only costs $39 and it's nearly 1.89L. You should buy some.

An American example of non-vintage wine, the Mastro Scheidt Jug! It only costs $39 and it's nearly 1.89L. You should buy some.

$39 or $3000?

Oh wait…I have been doing it for years. It's called The Jug (yep, that's the label above. It's good wine. Really good). I've been combining vintages to make a consistent blend for over 5 years now, but not charging $3000 for the bottle. Stupid me. I charge $39.

When winemakers combine vintages like they have at Penfolds, it becomes a non-vintage wine, generally regarded as inferior by critics for still red wines. Unlike port and champagne, which are regularly blended across multiple vintages and considered a mark of quality, blending red wines across vintages has long been considered the practice of corporate wineries using 1 gallon and up packaging.

Super Blend or Just Red Wine?

Penfolds of Australia produces the world famous Grange by blending Shiraz (Syrah) with some Cabernet Sauvignon (in most years). A long heralded wine and deservingly so. With the G3, they’ve taken a long held philosophy of Aristotle, that the “sum is greater than the parts”, combining three vintages of Grange together in a single bottling, or as Penfolds called it, “a super-blend” and thus, charging more than any single bottling would cost.

From my own experience blending wines from multiple vintages, the “super-blend” of wines can be beneficial in a few ways. First, a young wine lacking depth and structure is given a boost from a wine that is older, as the older wine has had time to mature. Secondly, the older wine is ‘refreshed’ by the younger wine with more vibrant fruit and freshness. Thirdly, if the wines have been on new oak, the interactions between the wine, oak and time, depending upon the oak origin, can have a whole combination of various results on the finished wine that add a layer of complexity not otherwise derived from the wine itself.

A true test of greatness would be to try each individual vintage of Grange that comprise the G3 super-blend; 2008, 2012 and 2014 side-by-side with the G3. That tasting would cost just under $6000, if you can get your allocation of G3. I’d love to taste it.

I raise my glass to Penfolds and offer a toast to them for getting $3000 a bottle for a non-vintage Shiraz. May we all be so lucky.

Now go buy my Jug for $39!!!

Fires in Wine Country

Last week has been devastating for many in Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. The fires are ongoing and are in various stages of containment. This is a fluid situation and work is being done around the clock by brave fire crews and first responders to control the fires. This was a picture of the Pocket Fire with air support dropping fire retardant, taken October 12, not far from Mastro Scheidt Family Cellars crushpad location just north of Geyserville, in Alexander Valley.

Photo courtesy of local resident and friend, Jessica Brazil.

Photo courtesy of local resident and friend, Jessica Brazil.

Here's a link for daily updates on the wine country fires 

A growing number of friends and colleagues have had their property destroyed by fire. I mourn their loss. Many of you have asked how you can help victims of the fire. Please support your charity of choice. There will be many months of rebuilding and your support is critical to those efforts today.

Mastro Scheidt Family Cellars has been extremely lucky in that the winery facility located just north of Geyserville and to the west, is undamaged and currently out of danger. No vineyards that I purchase from have been affected by fire. Our cased goods facility located near the Santa Rosa Airport, is currently unaffected. Additionally, the entirety of the 2017 harvest was either in barrel or in tank as the fires started. There is no risk of “smoke taint” from Mastro Scheidt wines from the 2017 harvest. I am thankful for each and every one of you who have emailed, texted, called, and messaged me personally to ask about my safety.

The wine country is a strong community and will be rebuilt. #sonomacountystrong

David Scheidt | Owner and Winemaker

Harvest 2017, Mid Season Report

Every indication, leading up to harvest in 2017, showed a gradual ripening schedule, perhaps 7-10 days behind 2016. Fruit quality looked good, with some vineyard concerns of powdery mildew. Canopy growth was vigorous, fruit set was good. Yields in some vineyards were lower than expected, but healthy vines from all the rainfall.

Personally, I’m happy to have high quality, low yield, if there has to be some trade-off.

Lencioni Vineyard Dry Farmed Cabernet Sauvignon

Lencioni Vineyard Dry Farmed Cabernet Sauvignon

The gradual and stable weather gave way to hot temperatures beginning the end of August and came in a couple waves. 100+degrees in Healdsburg on 8/26, 27, 28 with an overnight low on the 28th at 56 (which helps); as Dry Creek Valley behaves differently than Alexander Valley, the fog lingered a little longer in Dry Creek Valley.


Then the real heat came and the morning fog disappeared.

August 31 through September 2 saw 110 degree temps in Dry Creek Valley with the crushpad up in Alexander Valley at 119. Overnight lows were in the high 60's. We “cooled” down  to 104 on Sept 3 and 90 degrees on Sept 4 with a bit of humidity and a thick haze throughout Alexander and Dry Creek Valley.

So what did all this wild weather mean to Mastro Scheidt Cellars?

All hands on deck at Mastro was 110 degrees that day

All hands on deck at Mastro was 110 degrees that day

It meant all hands on deck to pull my dry farmed feral Lencioni vineyard grapes off as soon as possible! 100% hand picked and sorted means you don’t take raisins. Hand-picked also means you start early and finish early because it’s hot, real hot and you don’t want the fruit fermenting in the vineyard if you can help it. 


And then, strangely enough, on 9/7 there was precipitation early morning and up through 11am. Not a light rain, but real rain. On 9/13 the rain came again and dumped pretty good in the morning and the sun never came out, maybe a high of 70 at the crushpad.

Cabernet and TL can handle the rain. They're both tough

Cabernet and TL can handle the rain. They're both tough

There are still a few things to bring in before the season is complete and the steady weather pattern is back in effect. But who knows, the sooner I'm off the vine the better.

The Grapes of Harvest

Sample. Taste. Repeat.

It's all about the grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Sirah, Syrah, Merlot, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscat Blanc was harvested by Mastro Scheidt in 2016.

No two seasons are the same and no two varietals are the same. My wines change with the seasons. Winemaking is not an exact science, it's subject to undiversifiable risk, known as Mother Nature.  I'm showing the beautiful pics, the highlight reel. There's a lot, behind the scenes, the day in, day out unromantic reality of what I do with these grapes. There are a lot of steps to get raw grapes from the field to the bottle.

Enjoy the beauty of harvest.

New Year, New Releases.

We pulled more than a few corks in 2015, thanks to our customers (Thanks for the picture Mary!). From our Proprietary White Wine, Pinot Noir, Superstrada, and of course Cabernet Sauvignon; I'd like to personally thank everyone who had a glass. While many of your favorites from 2015 are sold out, there are several new release wines coming in 2016.

Cork, Picture and Permission provided by Mary

Cork, Picture and Permission provided by Mary

The triumphant return of Superstrada is slated for release in the first quarter of 2016. The 2013 Superstrada will be a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, exclusively from hillside vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. 

Our 2015 Proprietary White Wine will be released right around Valentine's Day, and promises to be a clean, crisp white wine you'll be able to enjoy all year long.

The 2012 Sonoma County blend, the one wine that is guaranteed to never be the same blend twice, just hit the shelves in late 2015. If you want the detail on the blend and process, it's all in the fact sheet. The short story is, it's the first time I worked with Malbec from Alexander Valley. Malbec packs a punch with aromatics and back palate flavor when combined with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

We will have our first Zinfandel released in early 2016. I found a great little vineyard in Dry Creek Valley in 2014, hand-picked and hand-sorted, I gave the wine both 1st Pass French and American oak for 18 months of aging for a full-bodied flavor, but without the sting of so many Zinfandels on the market today.


Naturally, we'll be releasing some big Cabernet and Cabernet blends in 2016, from the limited 1-T-L and Signature, along with the 2013 Cuvee of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Thank you again for all of your support in 2015 and looking forward to pulling some more corks (and sharing your pictures) in 2016.

Varietals Harvested in 2015

I love charts and graphs. I also like statistics. As I comb through my reporting for the 2015 harvest, I wanted to share some information on the types (varietals) of grapes harvested this season from Sonoma County. We produce roughly 9 different bottled wines per season from all of the grapes we havest. The 2015 Proprietary White Wine will be released in February of 2016, while our Signature Dry Creek wine won't be released until mid-2017.

Varietal Harvest 2015 by Percentage

Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese dominated the harvest.

Varietals Harvested by Percentage within Sonoma County

Specifically, the hillsides of Dry Creek Valley. No valley floor fruit was harvested.