Margrit Mondavi, widow of the late Robert Mondavi, visited Manhattan with Robert Mondavi Winery director of winemaking Genevieve Janssens to celebrate the wines from their historic and highly regarded To Kalon vineyard in Napa Valley. Ancient Greek for “the highest beauty,” To Kalon was originally planted in 1868 and today provides grapes for the winery’s top Cabernet Sauvignons and Fumé Blanc reserve.
Margrit – a silver haired, diminutive woman who wore her signature Uggs in Manhattan black, of course – greeted members of the media at a special event at Bouley Botanical. The event space was awash in grow lights keeping hundreds of herbs alive in garden boxes all around the restaurant. The evening began with two vintages of Fumé Blanc. The name was Robert Mondavi’s invention; a salute to the elegant Sauvignon Blanc of France, Pouilly Fumé.
The group tasted two beautiful Fumé Blanc reserves with creative appetizers. I particular enjoyed the 2002. This older vintage showed beautiful depth and character, revealing the wonderful aging potential of these whites. According to Genevieve, “The 2002 vintage was a departure from regular blending. It is 24% Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc.” She continued, “It’s a big wine, it’s aging very graciously.”
Genevieve and Margrit told the attendees that Robert Mondavi’s spirit is in every glass of their wine. He was a man that appreciated beauty and creativity, and his art-filled winery reflects that passion.
At dinner, the 2012 Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc Reserve, To Kalon Vineyard, was fresh with grapefruit crispness and minerality. It was well matched to Chef David Bouley’s bay scallops in ocean herbal broth. The lovely 2001 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was wonderful with both the lobster sauced with red wine as well as the slow braised kobe beef cheeks with gnocchi.
Our final red was the 2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, To Kalon Vineyard. This had perfectly ripe fruit with cherry and blackberry notes. According to Genevieve, the Cabernet from To Kalon has “fantastic tannins.”
At the end of dinner, Chef Bouley came out and gave a small presentation of what he is trying to accomplish at the unique event space that is spare and modern, with plants growing everywhere. He talked about his commitment to natural foods, organic farming, and creating healthy foods that satisfy body and soul. Our final treat of the evening was a sumptuous 2001 Robert Mondavi Winery Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis. It was an unforgettable evening that saluted a special American heritage vineyard and celebrated iconic American wines.