Q&A: Author Margrit Mondavi
Napa Valley’s first lady of wine spills on her new book, favorite food and wine pairings....
December 12, 2012
This holiday season, delight the oenophile in your life by gifting them with Margrit Mondavi’s Sketchbook: Reflections on Wine, Food, Art, Family, Romance and Life ($35). Released in July 2012, the elegant hardcover features both drawings and reflections from Mondavi on her life, including details on how she met and fell for her late husband, Napa Valley wine mogul Robert Mondavi.
With help from food columnist Janet Fletcher and a foreword by chef Thomas Keller, the book provides an intriguing insider’s look at how Napa Valley became such a food and wine epicenter. We had the chance to chat with Mondavi and talk about the release, her favorite memory from the book, and her picks for holiday food and wine pairings.
What was the impetus for writing your book?
MARGRIT MONDAVI: I felt this was a wonderful opportunity to relive my life in a way—dating back to my youth in the 'black and white' portion as I like to say because of my vintage—and share so many stories about the defining, joyful, and hard moments of my life.
What was the most special memory you were able to include in the book?
MM: Everything included in the book is very significant to me, though being in Napa Valley during the wine country renaissance and meeting Bob was definitely a major highlight. When Bob set out to open his own winery in 1966, I was eager to join his team as Robert Mondavi Winery’s first tour guide and public relations manager…I just knew he was going to achieve great things. Bob made it his mission to put Napa Valley on the map and encourage people to enjoy food, wine, and the arts as an integral part of gracious living. I remember suggesting creating chef programs and a concert series, and Bob would always say, without missing a beat, ‘Don’t think…DO it!’ I really can’t put into words how special that time was for me and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything in the world.
We just had the harvest, what 2012 varietals do you predict will be particularly good?
MM: All of them! 2012 will be a wonderful vintage. We had perfect weather for growing grapes and a nice long harvest. I am particularly excited to try our Fume Blanc Reserve and Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.
What varietals do you recommend for the holiday season?
MM: I find our Pinot Noir Reserve to be a perfect match for all-purpose entertaining. It can be appreciated on its own, but it adds depth and richness to festive meals as a complement to a variety of roasted meats, turkey, and side dishes.
What’s your favorite food/wine pairing off the top of your head?
MM: I have a favorite food pairing for almost everything! I take any opportunity I can to enjoy Robert Mondavi Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve with a beautifully cooked steak or rack of lamb or our Pinot Noir Reserve with earthy roasted mushrooms. I love finishing a meal with a fabulous cheese plate and dessert wine, like our Moscato D’oro. Since I’m thinking about holiday entertaining right now, I like sipping a glass of Champagne with smoked salmon and crème fraiche blinis; it is just the right amount of richness and acidity combined together.
What is one of your favorite LA restaurants?
MM: Wolfgang Puck (800 W. Olympic Blvd., Downtown LA, 213-748-9700) is a wonderful man and personal friend; I had the most delicious meal at his restaurant at the Bel-Air hotel when I came for a book signing of Margrit Mondavi’s Sketchbook. I would certainly return and recommend your readers to try it!