Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tim Mondavi Brings First Tasting of Continuum 2006 to Naples' Chaîne des Rôtisseurs

La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Bailliage de Naples, celebrated An Evening with Tim Mondavi on February 4th, with hosts Bailli Sandi Moran and Chevalier Tom Moran, and Naples Wine News Editor Bruce Nichols. La Chaîne, the international gastronomic society founded in Paris, is dedicated to fostering the enjoyment and knowledge of fine wine and fine cuisine. They ensure that the tradition of excellence shall continue, by granting generous scholarships to further the careers of numerous culinary and hospitality students.Tim Mondavi , legendary winemaker Robert Mondavi’s son, is an articulate, passionate winegrower and winemaker, who created the superb wine, Continuum, in 2005, with sister Marcia, father Robert and their families. Tim’s 30 years of experience and expertise with soil, climate and various oenologic techniques has produced a highly acclaimed wine. Continuum’s first vintage, 2005, retails for $150 a bottle when it can be found, and is easily triple that in restaurants.
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Carissa Mondavi, Bruce Nichols, Sandi and Tom Moran, Tim Mondavi Tim’s elegantly down-to-earth daughter Carissa Mondavi, 32, represents the 4th generation of Mondavis. She is poised, and passionate about continuing the Mondavi standard of excellence. She excels at introducing the younger generation to the pleasures of fine wines combined with good simple food. She grew up playing at the winery, dining on cooked- from- scratch home cooked meals. Wine is not just for special occasions; worldwide it’s an integral part of a family meal. What’s a good wine? The rule is-if you like the wine, it’s a good one. Simple as that!

The Evening's Fine Wines, with Gold and White labeled Continuum.Continuum’s 2006 wine was first sampled, to rave reviews, at this Naples event, just before the start of the 2009 Naples Winter Wine Festival and Auction.

Tim Mondavi is one of the warmest, most eloquent, bright, and gifted conversationalists that I and other attendees have met. He’d squirm if he heard that. I noticed, through the evening, that he’s outgoing, curious, and as genuinely interested in talking with the wait staff, cooks, chefs and photographers about their passions, as he is mingling with other internationally known celebrities.

Private Executive Chef Doug Lester (below) is as passionate about his cuisine as Tim Mondavi is about his wine and his family. Chef Lester’s elegant meals are equal to that of a Michelin starred restaurant. Meticulously preparing and expediting each course, he laughs with the kitchen staff, giving a his fresh example of “grace under pressure.”

Cocktails hour started with flutes of the lively Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé. Passed appetizers included Mini duck confit burgers, almost foie gras like in lusciousness, with brie and sweet potato butter. Unlike amateurish caterers, these adorable burgers are truly bite sized at ~1 inch in diameter, and thus do not require a “tooth check” or “lipstick readjustment” after eating. The Mini margarita pizzas with aged balsamic vinegar were a hit, as were the Lump crab & sweet corn mini cakes with chili remoulade.

Roasted red and yellow beet napoleon towers with discs of goat cheese, were accompanied by organic micro greens with a delicate shallot vinaigrette and fanned, fresh sliced Hass avocado. The accompanying Gargiulo Vineyards' Frank Wood Ranch Chardonnay 2007 was a fine match. Tim and Carissa freely mingled with the guests, making everyone feel warmly welcomed. Hosts Sandi and Tom Moran had all the details on autopilot. They were relaxed and equally friendly throughout the evening, chatting with over 80 Chaîne members and guests, seated between the living room and the beautiful fireplace on the expansive patio. Yes, even Naples gets down to 60 degrees; only when the rest of the country is blanketed in snow and ice!
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Speaking of ice, the Intermezzo was a Meyer lemon and thyme sorbet,
with just the right mix of sweetness and tartness. (Next season, my Meyer lemon tree shall put Chef Lester to a sorbet challenge!)
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Pete and Patty Stiles, John and Judy Hushon
Chef Lester’s entrée was a knockout! The Basil-encrusted lamb loin and the Grilled petite filet of beef were melt-in-your-mouth tender, and served hot, beautifully plated with roasted baby vegetables and crisp sweet potato ribbons. Attendees were ecstatic over the cuisine, vertically paired with the never before enjoyed duo of Mondavi’s Continuum 2005 AND the fresh, new Continuum 2006. The 2006’s climate produced smaller grapes with concentrated flavors-the resulting Continuum 2006, to be released in Spring 2009, may be the best wine yet produced by the Mondavis. Continuum represents a successful new beginning, as Tim and Carissa continue the Mondavi family’s 4th generation of excellence.
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Sous Chef Decorating. The dessert (below) had a hard act to follow! The pastry chef’s Mini dark chocolate hazelnut torte topped with a chocolate mousse quenelle and a sprinkle of fleur de sel was perfection, accompanied by the sensual Butterscotch caramel Crème Brûlée. This is one of the best Crème Brûlée that attendees have ever had, lusciously rich, with a surprise dollop of warm caramel at the base of its shot glass. Philip Togni’s Ca’ Togni 2003, a sweet red dinner wine also made in St. Helena, Ca., was the perfect ending to a magical evening of great wines, cuisine, and warm company. Thank you Tom and Sandi Moran, Tim Mondavi and Carissa Mondavi, Executive Chef Doug Lester and Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Vice Echanson Bruce Nichols for a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs night to cherish.
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Bob and Terry Edwards, Carissa Mondavi, Tim Mondavi Chef Lester (left) & staff-cooking is serious work.
Cooks are Honored
Servers are Honored
Consider joining Naples', or your nearby Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, to experience great food and wine, and also assist future hoteliers', chefs' and sommeliers' careers.
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Celebrate life with good wine and pleasureable food, in restaurants or at homes, shared with your family and friends.
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Naples' Chaîne des Rôtisseurs http://bailliages1.chaineus.org/naples/

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