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A Taste of the Napa Valley

Anyone who likes wine knows the name Mondavi. But fewer people know the other Mondavi – Peter Mondavi, brother of Robert Mondavi, the famed Napa Valley vintner who put California wines on the map. Their father Cesare Mondavi bought the first winery in Napa, Charles Krug, in 1943. Years later when Robert Mondavi left to start his own winery a few miles down the road, Peter remained at Charles Krug. Today Peter is still running the winery along with sons Peter Jr. and Marc. I visited with Peter Mondavi, Jr. at the winery on a beautiful September day and tasted some of their delicious wines (the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2006 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon were standouts). They’ve been busy replanting vineyards and shifting the focus to Bordeaux-style blends.The lineup of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel is made from grapes grown right on their 850 acres. The expansive tasting room is welcoming, surrounded by vineyards and the historical buildings, with knowledgeable staff who love nothing more than to talk wine. Don’t miss it on your next trip to Napa.Besides the tasting room you can order the wines online or find them in fine wine shops and select restaurants.

Peter Mondavi, Jr.’s wife Katie is an accomplished cook and parted with a true wine country recipe, Salmon and Pasta (serve with the Charles Krug-Peter Mondavi Family Napa Valley Chardonnay, of course).

Katie Mondavi’s Salmon and Pasta

Makes 4 servings

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 - 2 lemons, sliced thinly
1  bunch of green garlic or green onions, washed, trimmed and sliced into 1” lengths (or 1 small onion, sliced thinly)
1-1/2 to 2 pounds salmon filet, cut into four equal portions
1 cup Charles Krug-Peter Mondavi Family Napa Valley Chardonnay

8-10 ounces pasta of your choice

1/3 cup green or black olives, or a mixture, pitted and quartered
salt and pepper

Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375ºF and bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

Drizzle half the olive oil into a baking dish just large enough to hold the salmon, but not too big. Set aside four lemon slices for garnish. Layer half the remaining lemon slices and half the green garlic (or onion) in the bottom of the dish.  Add the salmon atop the lemon and green garlic, then layer the remaining lemon and green garlic over the salmon. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.  

Add chardonnay so that it comes about halfway up the salmon. Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through.

About 15 minutes before the salmon is done, cook pasta al dente in boiling water. Drain and keep warm. 

Remove salmon pieces to a warm plate and quickly strain poaching liquid, reserving the green garlic or onion. Boil the liquid in a large skillet over high heat until it is reduced by half. Gently toss the liquid with the cooked pasta, olives, reserved green garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide onto four plates, top with salmon and serve garnished with lemon slices and a drizzle of olive oil.