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Katz Sauvignon Blanc Agrodolce Vinegar
Juicy, rich late harvest white grape vinegar with sour-sweet flavors. Slow-fermented to bring out nuance and complexity. Grown and made in Suisun Valley, California. (more info)
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While industrial vinegars can be churned out in a matter of hours, Katz's slow fermentation brings vinegar making to an art. Using the centuries-old Orleans Method and modern California ingenuity, Katz produces a crisp vinegar balanced with the rich sweetness of late harvest Sauvignon blanc grapes. Agrodolce roughly translates from Italian to “sour-sweet.” It’s not a one-dimensional acidic flavor, so it’ll dress up a salad dressing, and also taste delicious spooned over a bowl of berries and ricotta.
The word for vinegar comes from the Latin for “sour wine,” and is basically wine gone bad. Every culture that’s ever made alcohol (which is to say, every culture in the world), has also ended up with — and grown to love — vinegar. Natural acetobacters in the air react with sugars in the alcohol to make vinegar, which is why a bottle of wine left in the open will turn acidic. While it can happen unintentionally, making a vinegar that tastes good requires time, skill, control and good starting ingredients.
In the tradition of luscious French Sauternes, Katz’s lets white Sauvignon blanc grapes ripen on the vine for up to six weeks past the usual harvest. This concentrates the grapes’ sugars, so each berry is richer and sweeter.
Late harvest sauvignon blanc grapes are picked from the vines and made into a sweet wine, then slowly convert into vinegar in oak barrels, creating complex nuances of flavor.
After months of fermentation and ageing, the finished vinegar has a light caramel color, and a bright acidity balanced with the fruity sweetness of the late harvest grapes.
Katz Vinegar fermenting in barrels.
The contrast in Sauvignon blanc agrodolce vinegar is great for complementing cheeses, fruits and meats that could do with a touch of sweetness.
Because the Orleans Method makes for a more subtle acidity, salad vinaigrettes can be made with less oil, for those who want fewer calories, or who like to show off the freshness of the leaves.
Anything with goat cheese tastes great with agrodolce vinegar. Splash a bit onto a fried green tomato sandwich or mix with mustard and spices as a marinade for chicken or pork.
Katz Ranch Vinegar House
The French Orleans Method of making vinegar has been used for centuries. The method fell out of favor because slow fermentation in oak barrels couldn’t keep up with the speed of industrial vinegar-making. To squeeze the fermentation process into a mere five hours, industrial producers pump oxygen into giant steel drums full of a base alcohol and spike the brew with additives that put the acetic acid-producing acetobacter into overdrive.
By contrast the Orleans Method is a process of controlled exposure. Air is allowed to circulate around wine stored in small oak barrels. Oak imparts a subtly woodiness, and the slow fermentation results in less biting, more complex vinegars.
The company was started by Albert and Kim Katz in Napa, California. As former restaurateurs, the couple knew firsthand that good food comes from good ingredients. The company first made their name making olive oils before Albert decided to make use of the grapes in the Napa wine producing region to make vinegars, setting up the first fermentation barrels in his stone carriage house.
Suisun Valley, California