Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Legend That Is...Mondavi

At some time or another, we as bloggers and wine lovers will come in contact with wine made by Robert Mondavi Winery. The Mondavi family made the pilgrimage from Italy to California as many others had done in their day---their humble story beginning in Lodi, eventually moving down to Napa Valley. Through trial and tribulations , triumph and heartbreak, they created an empire only to watch it splinter away as Robert’s dream winery became a corporately owned company and his children ventured off on their own. When Robert passed away in 2008, we lost a legendary philosopher and he will surely be missed by all of us. Nevertheless, the winery is very much alive and a constant reminder of the legacy that has become a household name. I once was asked if I could have a discussion with anyone in the wine industry, who would it be? I explained that my biggest regret was never having met Robert Mondavi as even a moment in his presence would have been amazing!

Every wine lover who visits Napa Valley must make a stop at this winery. It took me several visits to Napa Valley before I finally stopped there but I’m glad I did. The winery is beautiful, the grounds impeccable and the wines are as great as ever. Under the care of winemaker, Genevieve Janssens, the winery is pumping out powerhouse wines.

Genevieve, educated at the University of Bordeaux, came to Robert Mondavi Winery in the 70s as a lab enologist and became Director of Winemaking in 1997. Her philosophy is a simple one---she is 100% dedicated to quality. She is always looking toward the future and proud to be the torchbearer of Robert Mondavi's vision. I recently got a taste of her philosophy when I received three bottles of wine as samples and am excited to be discussing these wines with you!

The 2008 Fume Blanc Reserve was an amazing wine! I'd never tasted a Fume Blanc so incredibly different in my entire life! Rich and bold tropical flavors of passion fruit and pineapple emcompass this wine. This wine was intense with full mouthfeel and brimming with bright, spicy goodness. A truly beautiful example of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with a bit of barrel fermentation--one of the nicest I have ever encountered. $40.

The 2007 Napa Valley Merlot was an interesting blend of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. I had to decant this one because the moment I opened it up, the aroma coming from the bottle was incredibly rich. It needed decanting! The wine was velvety smooth and a prime example of Napa Valley's "blackbird"--hoping to make a serious comeback!! Wild berry flavors, cassis, just lovely. $23.

The 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerhouse example of the 2007 vintage coming out of Napa Valley. Huge, concentrated fruit on the front. Dark plums, licorice, vanilla...Hearty with smooth tannins and a beautiful long finish. I would be curious to try this wine again in a few years to see how it evolves. $28.

And the fun does not stop here. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to taste two more exceptional Mondavi wines at a tasting I attended.

The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville is a district designate wine--meaning all the grapes used in this wine came from Oakville. Full of dark fruit--dark cherries, blackberries, plums, and coffee flavors. Rich but delicate. By far one of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignons ever!! $45.

The 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was a huge surprise! Although this wine has many years to come, it was drinking nicely now. So earthy and powerful, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and a tiny bit of Cabernet Franc is elegant and worthy of all the high scores it has received recently in the press. I felt very fortunate to be able to try it. $135.00.

As a household name, Robert Mondavi has touched the lives of many as a philosopher, innovator, story teller and lover of life. His legend will be remembered for many generations to come. When visiting Napa Valley, do yourselves a favor and just pop in to the winery. Even if not to sample, but to breathe in the atmosphere and you'll find it's truly magical. You owe yourselves that!!!

Robert Mondavi wines are available nationwide at most wine stores and markets. They can also be purchased on the winery's website, Robert Mondavi Winery is located on Highway 29 in Oakville. It is open to the public daily from 10-5.

"You Saw It Here First"...This post was created solely for "Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk" by Grace Hoffman. Grace is an Italian-born, American-bred wine blogger/educator with an all-consuming passion for wine and all it encompasses.

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