Morton’s, Mondavi and a Sassy 12-Yr-Old Survivor

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I was recently invited an event at Morton’s The Steakhouse (thank you to Sommelier Sara Fasolino) to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  The event took place at 50 locations across the country and featured the third and fourth generations of the Robert Mondavi family, icons of wine.  It was a unique approach that pulled together a myriad of technologies from a simulcast broadcast to all the Morton’s locations to social media. The Mondavi family members present were Michael Mondavi of Folio Fine Wine Partners, Tim Mondavi of Continuum Estate, and Peter Mondavi, Sr., Peter Mondavi, Jr. and Marc Mondavi of Charles Krug Winery. They gathered at the historic Carriage House at Charles Krug.

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I got caught up in some work deadlines, so I missed the hors d’oeuvres, but was able to catch a glass of the Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc 09 from Napa while we were serenaded by Jessica Lee, a talented singer with a jazzy vibe.  The wine was very grassy, with notes of citrus and grapefruit and I picked up on some pear notes.  A very nice and crisp wine.



I then had the opportunity to get to know my tablemates.  I sat down to greet 12-year-old, Celeste Fleck, who was dressed in stylish blue dress, very sassy blue sequin shoes and the biggest smile you could imagine. Celeste has big dreams of being an actress and I had the chance to enjoy the company of  her lovely family as well as Erin Michel, the VP of development of the Make–A-Wish Foundation of North Texas. Celeste was the Dallas Make-A-Wish child who only wanted a room makeover while she was battling leukemia.  As she scrolled through photo after photo of her glammed up room on her phone, it reinforced what I already knew –  Make-A-Wish grants more than wishes – the organization provides hope, excitement and a bright spot in what is otherwise a very tough situation.

We moved on to the first course, a harvest green salad topped with sea bass and roasted caper vinaigrette paired with the 08 Isabel Mondavi, Sonoma Carneros, Chardonnay.  It had tropical notes with hints of vanilla and buttered toast.  It matched the salad perfectly.

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The second course was the largest strip sirloin I have ever seen – and remember I live in Texas.  This massive steak paired well with the three wines offered – the Continnum, Napa Valley 07; 08 M by Michael Mondavi, Animo Vineyard and the Charles Krug, Peter Mondavi Family, VS Cabernet 06.  My favorite was the Charles Krug although there was a lot of spirited discussion on Twitter about the Continuum winning the battle of the wines.

Our last course was a wonderful cappuccino cream served with the Charles Krug, Peter Mondavi Family, Zinfandel Port, Lot XII.  I tasted berries and toffee and it matched perfectly with the desert that I made myself stop eating after three … maybe four bites.

Leading up to the event, the Mondavi family came together to create two 27-liter bottles (called a primat) of called wine Siamo Insieme (“we are together” in Italian). This was the second time in half a century that the family came together to produce a wine.  It is a unique blend of Napa Valley grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, produced and blended by the second and third generation of the Mondavi family especially for this event. The first wine was sold at the event for $25,000.  The second auction for the 27-liter bottle ends on October 30.  If you have the means and the occasion (please invite me), visit the Hart Davis Hart Wine Company.

I applaud Morton’s and the Mondavi family for a unique approach to a special evening.  The Mondavi family has always been one that will take risks.  I’m sure that a live broadcast in 53 markets was daunting, but the event appeared to be almost flawless.  The fact that it benefited the Make A Wish Foundation and raised more than $110,000 made it even more special.  For the most part, the Dallas crowd was attentive until about the fourth wine and then spirited chatter took over.  But with good food, great wine and a top charity, that is the sign of a successful evening.

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