The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2011

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Page 72 of 124

Soil + water = aromatic “mud,” which helped guests appreciate terroir, but it was the dirt from the famed To Kalon that was the star among the soil samples. Down to Earth ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY’S “TASTE OF PLACE” SHOWCASES THE SOUL OF SOIL New York City T hey say you can’t bring the mountain to Mohammad, but that didn’t stop Robert Mondavi Winery from bringing a little piece of his earth to New York City. In a month when snow blanketed much of the city, a little dirt was a welcome sign. Held at Hearth, the trendsetting restaurant of wine geek Paul Grieco (who, along with Chef Marco Canora, has been nominated for a 2011 James Beard Foundation award), the New York edition of Taste of Place featured interactive tasting stations showcasing locally sourced soils and the food grown in them. Guests nibbled on Tokyo white turnips and baby greens while sniffing mud mixes of the soils from which they came: Bucks silt loam from Chickadee Creek Farm in Pennington, NJ, and Carlisle muck—which, despite its name, surprised tasters with its silky, powdery texture—from Rogowski Farm in Pine Island, NY. But the star of the show was the pungent soil from Napa Valley’s To Kalon Vineyard, prized for producing some of Mondavi’s most elegant and complex wines. From the Monastery Block, Oakville AVA, guest inhaled aromas 70 / the tasting panel / april 201 1 We got our hands and palates dirt-y at Mondavi’s recent Taste of Place events, at which San Francisco installation artist Laura Parker and Mondavi Director of Winemaking Geneviève Janssens paired food, wine and terroir. Parker’s work focuses on the relationship between food and its source; the Mondavi offerings were the logical comple- ment—expressions of soil as it pertains to wine. Here are our earthy reports from New York City and Los Angeles as Lana Bortolot and Meridith May do the ground work. of Coombs gravelly loam before delving into Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, harvested and dried in 2010. And if they couldn’t taste the Mondavi legacy off the stem, guests tasted it in the glass: Five wines from the esteemed vineyard were expertly paired with dinner. “To Kalon is the First Growth of Napa,” said Janssens. That’s quite a statement coming from a French-raised and Bordeaux-trained enologist. Janssens, the former Director of Winemaking at Opus One, has worked on To Kalon for 25 years, seeing it through three generations of replanting, each yielding wines she calls powerful and distinctive. “Every single year—no matter the weather or the impact of humans, the wines are absolutely fantastic. We have been going in the same direction since 1966 with the Cabernet Sauvignon; it is our heritage and our future.” When asked where she sees the wines going in the future, you might say Janssens channeled her inner Bordeaux winemaker. “To Kalon is so strong, we don’t need any artificial makeup. We are traditional, we don’t have to try to be trendy,” she said, adding, “To Kalon is not a toy to play with to please the consumers.”—Lana Bortolot

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