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FOOD + DRINK
Katz and Company Artisinal Vinegars
by Brian Fichtner
on 09 October 2008

Supplying a dizzying array of gustatory delights, from honeys and preserves to oils and vinegars, the California-based Katz and Company has a culinary history stretching back over thirty years.

Katz's Late Harvest Zinfandel AgroDolce Vinegar is a delightfully sweet and sour elixir, as the term AgroDolce will suggest. Made from 100% North Coast Zinfandel, the vinegar is characterized both by a jammy finish and a pronounced zing that linger equally on the palate. I've found their Champagne Vinegar, comprised of 95% California Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Gris and Pinto Noir, to be the ideal component in sprucing up a light salad. Fragrant, tart, and deceptively simple, it has become a kitchen staple. Katz's Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc AgroDolce Vinegar is incredibly aromatic, robust in color and surprisingly complex. Hints of raisin, apple and plum dance on the tongue while a mildly acidic base makes for a crisp finish.

Katz's Gravestein Apple Cider Vinegar is nothing like I've ever tasted. The Gravestein apple, recognized by Slow Food as a "heritage" food, forms the base of this remarkable vinegar. Like a bottled version of autumn, this vinegar immediately calls to mind walking between rows of apple trees, rollicking on hay rides, and sharing cider and donuts under falling leaves. Rife with the flavor of baked apples and strong in its acidity, this vinegar is simply awesome.

Founders Albert and Kim Katz got their start in the early years of the Bay Area's food revolution, operating a restaurant that favored quality ingredients long before terms such as slow food, locavore and artisinal were in common use. After selling their Berkeley restaurant in 1991 they embarked upon a new venture as growers and producers of distinctive foods.

In 2000, the couple set out to make traditional vinegars using the Orleans Method, a process introduced in Port Orleans, France in the 16th century. While large-scale manufacturers produce industrialized vinegars through forced fermentation, practitioners of the Orleans Method combine quality wines with a starter (known as the "mother") where the vinegars are allowed to mature in oak barrels over many months. Katz and Company produces all of its vinegar in a historic 1865 Carriage House (pictured above right) located in the Suisun Valley. Albert comments "we are not only the 'vinegarmaker,' but the grape grower and winemaker as well. This gives us a unique and one-of-a-kind opportunity to craft the finished wine with an eye toward the type of profile we want for our vinegar."

Purchase Katz and Company vinegars on their online store starting at $10.

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