Thursday, April 30, 2015

Media Dinner at Robert Mondavi Winery



My trip this week to Napa Valley began with a media dinner at Robert Mondavi Winery with four other journalists and winemaker, Megan Schofield, on hand to discuss the wines of the evening. I might not typically write about this meal if it was something of which I felt my readers would not be able to ever partake. The reasons that I decided to do so are that, on this evening, we enjoyed the most affordable and available wines in the Robert Mondavi portfolio and I also learned how easy it would be for others to enjoy wine and food pairings in this venue.

Robert Mondavi Winery sits on the famed To Kalon Vineyard with a view of the mountains in the background, to call it scenic would be selling it short. The grounds are complete with stunning gardens blooming with flowers and beautiful art all around; a combination of the best that nature and man can offer. 

Our dinner that evening and our lunch on the following day were prepared by the in-house chef, Jeff Mosher. His philosophy on food is "...about obtaining the highest quality local and sustainably grown ingredients harvested at the peak of freshness..." and believe me, this was absolutely showcased in my two meals there. 

This would be an over the top choice for a destination wedding or for a corporate incentive trip of which I know many Texans that are fortunate enough to be able to experience. In addition to the winery's ability to accommodate large private groups, individuals that wish to tour and taste at Robert Mondavi have several options to do so on their own as well.

Our dinner began with the 2004 To Kalon Vineyards Fumé Blanc Reserve which is a higher end library wine that would be more difficult to find on your own. We enjoyed it with grilled fava beans (picked earlier that day from the vineyard garden) and with pork belly sliders out in the Rose Garden. This 11 year old wine was incredibly fresh with tropical aromas and flavors with the famed smoky notes from the barrel fermentation and aging, absolutely delicious and a great lesson on the age-ability of this wine; look for the current release and feel confident in knowing that you can enjoy it immediately or lay it down for years to pull out for a future special occasion. More recent releases range from $40-60 in price.

The other wines served at this dinner were all current releases in the more affordable Napa Valley line.

2013 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Chardonnay with aromas and flavors of pear, melon, toast and a pronounced spicy note had a medium body, refreshing acidity and a creamy finish.It paired perfectly with the seared salmon alongside peas, carrots, nasturtiums and coconut curry. Though a majority percentage of the wine was fermented in French oak barrels, this is not an oaky Chardonnay.

2012 Robert Mondavi Carneros, Napa Valley Pinot Noir had aromas and deep flavors of black cherry with dried herbs and a slight earthy note with a medium body balanced by good acidity with a dark fruity finish, This was served with Sonoma duck confit with forbidden rice, turnips and tatsoi with pickled garden strawberries and a red wine swipe.This vintage was described as an "epic year". (wine bottle not pictured)

2012 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet was a classic Napa Valley Cabernet with its pronounced aromas and rich flavors of sweet ripe blackberries, a bit of tobacco and chocolate with a decided mineral-edged finish. This paired phenomenally with the grilled Five Dot Ranch Ribeye Cap served with fingerling potatoes, spring garlic, morel mushrooms and bordelaise sauce. (wine bottle not pictured)

2013 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Moscato d'Oro was served slushy style as the founder, Robert Mondavi, enjoyed this wine. This fragrant sweet wine had aromas of citrus blossoms with juicy peach and rich tropical fruit flavors balanced with a clean acidity. Another perfect pairing with strawberries, blueberries, shortbread crumble and black pepper chantilly cream.

Whether alone or with a group, taking the time to enjoy a food and wine pairing or full paired meal at Robert Mondavi Winery should definitely be on your radar as an experience to not miss on your next trip to Napa Valley.