This past Thursday, October 7th I was invited to a very special event held at Morton’s the steakhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation. But the event was much bigger than just the Scottsdale location. The main event was actually held at the Charles Krug Winery Carriage House in St. Helena, Napa Valley and was broadcast live in high definition to more than 50 Morton’s Steakhouses across the country. 3 generations of the Mondavi family were on hand including Michael, Marcia, Timothy, Marc, Peter Jr. and 96 year old Peter Sr. The highlight of the evening was the wonderful speech that Peter Sr. gave. He had a lot to say, but who wouldn’t given the enormous amount of experience. He touched on many of the key points that us wine nerds have been talking about lately including the recent trend to higher alcohol. He also talked about harvesting at night and cold fermentation back in 1937. Peter Sr. still goes to work everyday and I was told that he drives to work every day in his ’86 El Dorado! The big buzz pertaining to wine that evening was the unveiling of a 27 liter one-of-a-kind blend put together by the 2nd and 3rd generations of the Mondavi family. Known as the legendary Primat, Siamo Insieme, “We are together”. The wine is currently being auctioned by the Hart Davis Hart Wine Company through October 30th and is expected to fetch between $10,000 to $20,000 with 100% of the proceeds going to the Make a Wish Foundation.
There are a couple of interesting features to a bottle of this size. One is that the empty bottle itself is worth about $1,500. Secondly, due to the size this bottle will easily age for a minimum 25 years. The enormous size means the wine is not as susceptible to temperature fluctuations or oxidation. A lot of people are probably wondering how do you pour wine from a 125lb 3 foot tall bottle? Well first you open it was a standard cork screw and then you can either use a custom pouring device designed by Peter Mondavi Jr. or you can use a siphon.
In addition to the legendary blend guests at each location were able to bid on a very special 3-pack of wine in a custom made wood carrying case, including Continuum, M by Michael Mondavi and Charles Krug Vintage Select Cabernet.
The evening started out with a
Morton's main dining room
reception in the main room featuring smoked salmon pizza, tenderloin crostinis and miniature crabcakes paired with Charles Krug 2009 sauvignon blanc from Napa Valley. This wine is actually harvested at 3 different times to help bring out the different components. Predominantly tropical fruit, pineapple pear and peach, this wine is quite well suited to being first to taste. It retails for about $18 a bottle.
After the reception we were ushered into a private dinning room complete with a huge screen to view the festivities live from the winery. The room had mahogany walls and reminded me of a cigar club.
The first course was an amazing salad consisting of Harvest greens, topped with Sea Bass and a roasted caper vinaigrette and paired with Isabel Mondavi’s 2008 Chardonnay from Carneros, Sonoma. This Chardonnay comes in a Bordeaux style bottle which was the first indication of something different. 80% of this wine was barrel fermented in french oak and the remainder saw stainless steel fermentation, however this Chard is very light on the oak. It retails for about $18 a bottle which I found to be quite amazing because of the tiny production, the 2007 vintage is only 400 cases!
Next up was the main course.
My kind of dinner!
For our main course, 3 glasses of wine were pre-poured and paired with a massive New York strip sirloin, baked sweet onions with Gruyère cheese, roasted tomato stuffed with leaf spinach and roasted Yukon gold potatoes.
The first wine was Continuum 2007 Napa valley. This wine was stunning, it completely blew me away. The ’07 Continuum is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18 % Petit Verdot. Silky and smooth with Cherry and Currant and a hint of Anise. This wine was rated 97 points by Wine Spectator and retails for $140.
The next wine was M, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Animo Vineyard, Napa Valley.This wine was very different from the first. Quite young and intense, with an amazing explosion of chewy tannins and plummy fruit. I enjoy young wines, but some people do not. This wine could use a few more years of cellaring if you find big and bold too much for your palate. For me it was just perfect. Only 900 cases were made and the wine retails for about $175 a bottle.
The 3rd wine was Charles Krug 2006 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. This wine was the most approachable at this point in time. The fruit was ripe and the tannins soft, predominately ripe cherry and plum. A little over 1,800 cases of this wine were made, and it retails for about $70 a bottle.
For dessert we were served Cappuccino cream. A nice big cup of thick mouse like cappuccino topped with an ample amount of whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings. This was paired with Charles Krug Zinfandel Port, Lot XIII from Napa Valley. Only 700 cases of the 375ml bottles were made, so this was quite a nice little rarity. This is a very nice port, rich smooth, very little in the way of alcoholic heat even thought the alcohol weighs in at around 18%. Delicious, but take small sips, it is potent!
Throughout the evening we watched pre-recorded as well as live interviews with the members of the Mondavi family and were treated to some wonderful musical performances. There was a segment on the making of the 27 liter bottle of wine where the 2nd and 3rd generations of the Mondavi family were sitting in the wine cellar sipping sniffing and taking notes and discussing the blend.
Meanwhile back in Scottsdale, the guests were well taken care of by the attentive staff at Morton’s. Unfortunately, the evening seemed to end too soon, but it was already 8pm and it was a Thursday night. Although I very nearly convinced some of the other guests to make an all-nighter out of it. Maybe next time.