In 1964, John F. “Jack” Tognetti purchased land in the Los Carneros region of Napa Valley. Having a career in the freight industry meant he spent long stretches away from the property, but it was always his plan to return when he could dedicate himself to agriculture (at the time, the land was planted to prunes and pears). In 1980, he removed the orchards and began planting winegrapes, naming the new vineyard Aloise Francisco (a combination of his and his wife, Camille’s, middle names).
His grapes were popular with top producers in the valley, including Swanson Vineyards and Schramsberg Vineyards, each of which used Tognetti’s Chardonnay fruit in wines later served to presidents and dignitaries. In 2010, Jack’s son, Robert, and grandsons, Matthew and Michael, conducted a secondary harvest and produced 20 cases of wine for family and friends.
In 2012, Robert’s dream of a family winery came to fruition with the help of his wife, Wendy, and their four children—Matthew, Michael, Christina and Jenny. Staying true to his vision, Chardonnay from the family's property is produced on a limited basis each year and is sold to wine club members; it’s also available on select local restaurant wine lists.
Winemaker Keith Hock (formerly of Schramsberg) describes the Tognetti Family Chardonnay as having “tropical aromas balanced with refreshing hints of citrus, fresh baked bread and hazelnut.”
Adds Silverado resort & Spa Chef Jeff Jake, who provided the recipes here, “The Tognetti Chardonnay is lean in style with very bright acidity making it a lovely compliment to seafood. The citrus notes in the wine also pair wonderfully with the zesty giardiniera which tops the salmon on the dish.”
Jack, who will turn 99 in April, can still be found tending vines daily on his Carneros ranch.
Poached Wild Salmon
NOTE: The vegetable gardiniera should be made a few days in advance for best pickling results. The salmon and fregula sarda can be prepared simultaneously just before serving.
4 skinless salmon steaks (8 ounces each and about 1-inch thick)
In a large, deep, heavy pot, combine carrots, celery, onion, lemon, 1.5 teaspoons salt and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 8 minutes.
Season salmon with salt and gently lower into simmering liquid (liquid should just cover the fish). Reduce to a very gentle simmer. Cover and cook until salmon is opaque throughout, about 5 minutes (longer for thicker steaks). Using a wide slotted spatula, remove salmon from liquid.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 1/2 cups fregula sarda
1 bunch tarragon, picked whole leaves
Pinch Marash pepper
Coat a large saucepan generously with extra virgin olive oil. Add the onions and bring to a medium high heat. Season generously with salt and Marash pepper. Sauté until the onions are translucent and aromatic, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and bay leaf, and sauté for another minute.
Bring a pan of well-salted water to a boil. Add the fregula and cook through (but still al dente), about 8 to 10 minutes. Strain and add to the saucepan with onion, garlic and olive oil. Toss in tarragon leaves, reserving some leaves for garnish.
Check for seasoning and add more olive oil if needed.
2 Italian frying peppers, cut into thin strips
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch dice
1 leek (white portion) thinly sliced
4 cups cauliflower florets
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
Place the peppers, carrots, leek and cauliflower in a large, tall glass container. In a large jar, combine the salt, coriander seeds, peppercorns and bay leaves with 6 cups of water. Pour the brine over the vegetables and top with a plate to keep the vegetables submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Drain the vegetables and discard the coriander seeds, bay leaves and peppercorns. Pack the vegetables into two 1-quart jars. Add 1 cup of the white vinegar, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of oregano and 1/2 cup of water to each jar and seal. Shake gently and refrigerate overnight before serving.
To plate the dish:
On a large plate or pasta bowl, spoon one-half cup of fregula sarda. Gently place the poached salmon on top. Spoon the Gardiniera over the top of the salmon and garnish with tarragon leaves.
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