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ANV sips and bites at Robert Mondavi Winery

ANV sips and bites at Robert Mondavi Winery

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The sips and bites of Auction Napa Valley’s Friday Barrel Auction deliciously befitted an event held at Robert Mondavi’s winery on its 50th anniversary, as Mr. Mondavi and his wife, Margrit, pioneered what is now one of the world’s most celebrated charity events.

Here is a taste of the goings-on at Friday’s event:

Press Restaurant’s Little Gem Nachos stood out for their originality: shredded bottarga (a delicacy of salted, cured fish roe) and almonds served on lettuce leaves. Chef Trevor Kunk discovered bottarga through Seth Cripe of Calistoga’s LOLA Wines when they first met in Florida — before their separate moves to the Napa Valley.

Robert Mondavi Winery’s chef Jeff Mosher is used to crafting dishes that play well with wines’ various flavors and textures, and offered a beautifully prepared house-cured salmon crostini with lemon creme fraiche and radish salad. It was perfect with the winery’s Fumé Blanc.

Clif Family prepared 1,200 servings of King salmon in a lemon espelette broth, something they started three days in advance by curing the tender salmon cuts. Espelette is considered an aristocrat of the chili world with moderate heat and the slightest hint of sweetness to its roasted pepper taste.

Brix’s cold coconut lemongrass and crab soup topped with mild chili oil gave guests a delicious pause as the senses took in the convergence of flavors and texture.

Tasty Friday sips included: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 2015 Aveta Sauvignon Blanc, a refreshingly full-flavored wine with tangerine citrus, herb and tree-ripened peach fruit.

Joseph Phelps 2014 Sauvignon Blanc with fresh stone fruit and lemon citrus on a creamy, yet refreshing palate.

And something fun and different for Napa Valley, a 2014 Grenache Blanc by Priest Ranch that was full of rich, creamy stone fruit and crushed mineral flavors.

In the barrel room, Lang & Reed’s 2014 Les Loges Cabernet Franc stood out for its deep red fruits layered with garrigue (fragrant dried brush and Mediterranean herbs), a taste of France with some of the grip of Napa Valley.

Freemark Abbey’s 2014 Bosche Gravel Selection Cabernet Sauvignon showed great dark-berried aromas with a deeply concentrated richness.

Baldacci Family’s 2014 Heirloom barrel sample was 100 percent cabernet sauvignon from the Stags Leap District with fresh dark fruit and grippy tannins balanced by acidity and a bit of black pepper spice.

Continuum Estate’s 2015 Red Table Wine is Tim Mondavi’s deep blend of four of the five Bordeaux varieties, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot.

Catherine Bugue, the Star’s tasting panel columnist, loves writing about — and drinking — wine. You can contact Catherine at

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