Cooking with Crosby Roamann: Cioppino

It’s all about clams, really, but we don’t know what to call it. It’s not cioppino, or chowder, or soup. It’s kind of like a clam stew, without heavy cream or tomatoes. Whatever you call it, this dish is absolutely delicious, and perfect for cooler Fall nights.

We first tasted something like this when we were making wine at White Rock Vineyards. Christopher Vandendriessche, the winemaker there, had a harvest lunch tradition and this cioppino (or stew, or whatever you want to call it) was a recipe that made it up to the crush pad one day from the Vandendriessche home on the hill not so far away. We loved it.

We couldn’t think of a better winter dish to enjoy with our Chardonnay, but you can make it with just about any dry white wine. The balance of the hot and hearty stew and the cool and crisp Carneros Chardonnay is a perfect match. And you can personalize this recipe with whatever is fresh or on hand at the market: clams, scallops, shrimp, or crab — even halibut or any other fatty white fish — all pair nicely in this perfect harvest meal.

Ingredients (for four people):

  • 2 lb. Clams (Cherry Stone or Little Neck are perfect, but any kind will do)
  • 2 lb. Dungeness Crab, cracked and cleaned
  • 1/2 lb. Medium shrimp (16#)
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, peeled, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 3 strips of thick-cut bacon, cut into strips
  • 1 cup diced sweet white onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups of Chardonnay*
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock, chicken stock, or just water
  • 1/4 cup fresh cut Parsley
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

* We use Chardonnay, but any dry white wine will do.



1. Over medium-low heat cook the bacon in a large stockpot. When the bacon browns, add the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, add onions, garlic and parsley.  Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until onions are soft. 5 minutes. (You don’t quite want the bacon to crisp too much.)

3. Add the wine and scoop up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

4. Add the stock, bay leaves, thyme,  oregano, potatoes, clams, crab, and shrimp. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer just about 15 minutes. Stir once: you want to blend the flavors, not destroy the potatoes.

4. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty French bread, and a cool, crisp glass of Crosby Roamann Chardonnay.


2013 Harvest Offering

Here in Napa Valley the 2013 wines are in barrel, the leaves are changing color in fiery and beautiful shades, and the wind has picked up, whispering of the cooler season ahead.

As we sit down to recount and reflect on the harvest for Crosby Roamann, what strikes me most, beyond what an exceptional vintage 2013 will be, is the fact that we are here for the first time since our inception, living amongst the vines in Napa Valley.  Beyond the practical reasons this is such a bonus,, we felt for the first time to be a physical part of the magic.  Rising with the sun and the hot air balloons that fly over our part of the valley on clear mornings; breathing in that particular sweet, musty grape scent during harvest daytimes; the short, beautiful and still somewhat ethereal drive to the winery or the vineyards; meals shared outside with family, some nights lighting our outdoor wood-burning grill; and then over a glass of wine in our backyard the bright lights of Venus in the West, Cassiopeia in the East.

By growing standards, 2013 was exceptional. It felt surreal, after the past three years, to be waiting for things to morph into this quasi-unreal perfect-state of ripeness: the kind of thing that might unfold if you stare at it too long.

It all started with the St. Helena Sauvignon Blanc, which we picked on September 5.  This year’s vintage was ripe and beautiful, the grapes bursting with a range of tart grapefruit and ripe melon flavors. The Chardonnay from Carneros in southern Napa Valley followed on September 16th, with delicious notes of ultra-ripe tangerine, mango, and passion fruit. We brought the Oak Knoll District Merlot in on September 20, slightly earlier than in past years, and the wine is very rich and dark with flavors reminiscent of blackberry jam.  Finally, our Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon came in Friday morning, October 11th, with small, desiccated, beautiful dark berries, crunchy brown seeds we could eat, and rich flavors bursting with the promise of a good wine in a great vintage.

Coming off the high of a great harvest season, we’re excited to announce the release of our finest and first reserve wine, Crosby’s Reserve 2010. This wine is a selection of three finest barrels of Oak Knoll District Merlot and Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon: a luscious, elegant, and seductive red wine aged for 20 months in all new French oak, then bottled without fining or filtration. Just 77 cases produced.  Purchase by clicking here.

Some reviews for the 2010 Crosby’s Reserve:

“This tiny production blend surely is made in the modern cult style.  Its tannins are soft and sexy, its flavors deep and delicious with milk chocolate, blackberry jam, cassis liqueur and buttery toast.  The only thing it lacks is subtlety, but it does deserve its score for sheer Napa power.” — Steve Heimoff, June 2013, Wine Enthusiast

“Bright red-ruby.  Deeply pitched aromas and flavors of plum, cherry, currant and mocha.  A step up in sweetness and palate presence from the varietal merlot and cabernet bottlings, but still nicely dry and understated.  More oak here but also more supporting material.  Finishes with broad, dusty tannins and good length.  These well-made wines suggest that this will be a winery worth following.” — Stephen Tanzer, May/June 2013,  International Wine Cellar


2010 Crosby’s Reserve Napa Valley 6-bottle wood case

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