Wine of the Week: Robert Mondavi Carneros Pinot Noir 2010

Time to uncork another wine of the week; in the spot-light today is a very tasty Pinot Noir from Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley [a sample provided for the review process].

My expectations were greatly heightened upon seeing the label sporting the 
Carneros AVA, meaning that 85% of those grapes which produced this wine had to be grown in this area.

Why is that important, because Carneros really is a great growing area; where you will see many Burgundian style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and some very nice bubblies as well.

Honestly folks there are very few wines produced in Carneros region that make me unhappy and when Mrs. Cuvee fights me for the last splash, I really know I have a winner on my hands.

After getting a bit of this wine in my glass, a brillant ruby and plum colors jump out at you. Putting my fat nose in the glass I'm immediately hit with a wave of fragant aromas of baking spices mingling with the more muted aromas of dried mushrooms. After the first splash wonderful fruit forward flavors of dark fruit; like black plum and slightly jammy black cherry note, slammed into vineyard dust. The urge to merge with notes of spice, herbs and subtle oak dance playfully together with good structure and acidity, red and dark fruits, smooth tannins and a plump finish, albeit mostly mid-palate.

Definitely a richly satisfying wine that is eager to please, from the first splash to the last drop. I gave this wine a score of 88 points and can highly recommend it to you as an everyday wine. The SRP is $27, but the savvy shopper can find this wine a few places somewhere south of $20, also on that same front I see that Bevmo carries it for the SRP of $27, but if this wine hits their nickel-sale all bets are off, grab it by the case.

The question of "what to pair" always come to my mind; as I am the chief-chef here at Chez Vino, so I took a look at recipe I recently recieved in another sample box and found this fantastic recipe that I would like to share with you, Pomegranate Glazed Lamb Lollipops. This recipe pairs so nicely with the very tasty Carneros Pinot Noir, you'll never look at lamb quite the same way again. So until next time, sip long and prosper, cheers!

This recipe is brought to you by Candice Kumai chef and author of "Cook Yourself Thin" and will serves 4, in appetizer portion.


  3 cups 100% pomegranate juice

  1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

  2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or 3 teaspoons dried

  3/4 teaspoons sea salt

  1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  One 6-8 bone rack of lamb, Frenched


1.   Preheat oven to 450°F.

2.   Heat the pomegranate juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the juice is reduced to 3/4 cup, and has the consistency of maple syrup (about 30 minutes). Cool to room temperature.

3.   Toss the panko with sage and 1/4 teaspoons salt together on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 1 1/2 teaspoons of the olive oil over the mixture and rub it between your palms to incorporate into the breadcrumbs. Set aside.

4.    Rub the entire rack of lamb with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet (cast iron works great!) on high heat.

5.   Place the rack of lamb rounded-side down in the pan and cook until browned (2-3 minutes). Turnover and brown for 2-3 minutes on the second side. Use tongs to transfer the lamb to a cutting board.

6.   Using a pastry brush, dab the mustard all over the browned lamb. Press both side of the lamb in the seasoned panko, making sure to cover the entire surface in an even layer or bread crumbs. Wrap a sheet of foil over the tips of the bones (so they don’t burn) and place the rack back in the skillet, bone-side down. Place the skillet in the oven and roast the lamb for 12 to 14 minutes for medium. Let the lamb rest for 10 minutes before using a sharp knife to separate the rack into individual chops. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with the pomegranate reduction.


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