Artisanal Winemaking At Its Finest

08 Apr 2014
5 min read
Moone-Tsai Wines: “a reflection of a core philosophy grounded in a simple, elegant design, and practiced with ardour, persistence, and inspired winemaking”. Larry Tsai is one-third of the founding team; he tells FOUR all about the boutique wines, and gives you a perfect pairing recipe…

Bearing the last names of the winery’s founders – MaryAnn and Larry Tsai, and Mike Moone – Moone-Tsai wines employtrue craftsmanship. Everything is thought through with precision, from the Napa Valley vineyards to the fruits to use, from the harvest to the aging. And what emerges are humble artisanal wines that really are sublime.

Moone-Tsai Philosophy

“Our philosophy”, Larry tells us “is rooted in our approach to winemaking. Straightforward in concept, but requiring meticulous attention to detail, we secure extraordinary fruit from vineyard blocks that we control in Napa Valley’s most notable districts, including Coombsville’s Caldwell Vineyard, Oakville’s To Kalon, along with coveted blocks on Pritchard Hill and Howell Mountain.

“With the “best of the best” fruit at the wine’s core, our winemaker, Philippe Melka then painstakingly plies his craft; making sure that “where possible, the winemaking techniques in the cellar can create a wine that tells the story of the vineyard.” Carrying this approach through every aspect of winemaking, from harvest, to declassification, blending, and barrel/bottle-aging; the end result is a stunning reflection of a core philosophy grounded in a simple, elegant design, and practiced with ardour, persistence, and inspired winemaking.

Involved in the Moone-Tsai wines are four wine-connoisseurs and aficionados. “My wife, MaryAnn Tsai and I – both co-founder and owners – live in Napa Valley with our daughters. Philippe Melka, is the Winemaker who creates our extraordinary wines, combining his winemaking style and the winery’s core artisanal values. And James Tucci, Certified Sommelier, gives guided wine tasting experiences [appointment only] for guests across the wine-interest spectrum, from the newly-impassioned to the more-studied and discerning.” Each member, it seems has a discerning love of Napa Valley’s landscape and take inspiration from it every day.

Moone-Tsai Wines

Moone-Tsai wines are “highly limited production “boutique” wines that reflect an artisanal approach to winemaking. Like the lion, the guardian of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine…Moone-Tsai wines, are a timeless expression of power, strength, balance and enduring grandeur.

“While much can be made of endless food-pairing possibilities (depending on any one’s singular preferences and predilections), I confess to particularly enjoying the following pairings with our wines:

  • Cor Leonis Cabernet, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Aged bone-in rib-eye (with foie gras …if dining outside of California… where this delicacy has been banned), or porterhouse steak and frites; just about any blue cheese; AND desserts with dark chocolate, dusted cocoa powder.
  • Howell Mountain Hillside Bend: Braised short ribs (with potato/gratin), roasted leg of lamb, roasted duck breast or duck confit, venison
  • Napa Valley or Sonoma Coast Chardonnay: Lobster risotto, pan-seared scallops, filet of sole/beurre-blanc, crab cakes

“If I had to choose one wine from all our collections? So much depends on the meal, occasion, and the company with whom one is enjoined for dining. Still, when pressed, I would likely opt for our Cor Leonis Cabernet Sauvignon …whose seamless integration of fruit; layered complexity, and seductively lengthy finish never fail to impress.”

But what does a wine-connoisseur choose after a long week? “Lately, I’ve grown quite fond of a spectacular Manhattan …concocted at a favourite local Napa Valley dining spot, Goose & Gander , where their bartender, Scott Beattie is earning quite a reputation. While I have yet to duplicate this recipe at home, I understand it to be a devilish combination of Templeton Rye, Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon, and three different kinds of bitters … elegantly chilled in the glass with a handsomely cut, baseball sized, single block of ice.”

Moone-Tsai 2014

“For this year, we’re excited to be releasing our upcoming vintages of our 2011 Bordeaux-blends, Cabernet, and 2012 Chardonnays. While some of the wine pundits are insisting that discriminating palates should be alert to the possible variability that can accompany short harvests, our attentive fruit sourcing and winemaking are making for nothing less than an distinctively elegant, and beautiful vintage. Indeed, we believe that our 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet may be among our best ever.”

So, where can we buy a bottle?

“While our wines are primarily available on a consumer-direct basis (through our allocation/mailing lists); our wines can also be found on the wine lists of destination restaurants and at specialty wine retailers. For more information, please visit”

Moone-Tsai Recipe | Colorado Bison, Mushroom Potato Terrine, Napa Valley Red Wine Sauce

Serves 6-8



8 Bison steaks, seasoned and cooked to preference

Wild Mushroom Potato Terrine

8 thin long slices of Prosciutto

4 Yukon gold potatoes

2 tbsp butter

1 onion, finely diced

2 cups wild mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

¾ cups grated gruyere

Salt and pepper

Napa Valley Red Wine Sauce

½ strip of bacon, finely diced

3 shallots, finely diced

4 cups Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

6 black peppercorns, crushed

4 pints veal stock




Season bison and grill or sear to your preference.


Cook the potatoes in salted water until just barely tender to the point of a knife. Slice them into 1/8 inch thick slices. Sauté the wild mushrooms, the onion and garlic in 2 tbsp of butter and a good sprinkle of salt, until they have just begun to brown and all exuded juice has cooked away. Verify and adjust seasoning if necessary. Line the inside of the loaf pan with a big piece of plastic wrap, leaving plenty hanging over the edge to seal it up later. The line the interior of the loaf pan with the prociutto, leaving a nice flap to fold over the top at the end, as if you were lining a paté mold with back fat. Arrange a layer of potato slices in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with some of the grated cheese and add a layer of sautéed wild mushrooms. Continue building layers like this pressing everything together firmly, working up to the top of the mold. Fold the prosciutto neatly over the top, fold the plastic wrap over the prosciutto and bake in a 300° oven for one hour. Remove and chill overnight. In the morning, carefully unmold the terrine and wrap very tightly with a few extra layers of plastic wrap – this is critical for the slicing and handling. Slice the potato terrine with a sharp serrated knife and arrange on a cookie sheet ready to heat in the oven before serving. Do not remove the plastic wrap until you have successfully slid the hot terrine onto the plate for serving. It will slip off easily.

Napa Valley Red Wine Sauce

Cook the chopped bacon over moderate heat in a saucepan until it is rendered and golden brown all over. Stir in the chopped shallots but do not allow them to colour. Immediately deglaze with the Cabernet Sauvignon and reduce over high heat until the pan is almost dry. Add the stock and the crushed peppercorns. Allow the liquid to come to a boil, then adjust the flame to maintain a gentle simmer. Every ten minutes, carefully skim off any impurities that collect on the surface. Depending on your taste and the richness of the stock, this will need to reduce by about two third until the flavours are properly concentrated. Strain and verify salt seasoning. For a truly luxurious texture, whisk in a small piece of fresh unsalted butter just before serving. This makes a good sized batch, 2 or 3 cups. I recommend freezing it in an ice cube tray and keeping the cubes in a zip lock freezer bag.

Moone-Tsai Wines

Moone-Tsai Wines

270 Kreuzer Lane

Napa CA 94559

+1 707 927 1985