Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays To Everyone!!!

Happy holidays to everyone!!! Yes, that time of year is upon us and I would like to take the time to reflect on this past year and thank all my supporters for making this the best year for me to date! I could not do this without the help of countless friends, wineries, winemakers, media consultants and all of you who believe in me! So I lift my glass and give big cheers to you and hope that 2011 is an even greater year! What can we expect from Cellarmistress? More blogs, more humor, more travel and a lot more passion!!! So please, imbibe responsibly and have a wonderful holiday season! I look forward to entertaining you with many more wine-soaked adventures to follow!!

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.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tis The Season To Be...Charitable!!

The holiday season is upon us and all you wine lovers out there will be purchasing wines as gifts for your friends and loved ones. How good would you feel if by doing this, you were giving something back to charity? Recently, I was contacted by the Charity Case Foundation--a non-profit group in Napa Valley, founded in 2008 by Jayson Woodbridge, winemaker with Hundred Acre, Layer Cake and Cherry Pie Wines. He put together a hard-working group of ladies who volunteer their services and helped create wines for a cause. For the past three years, they have painstakingly worked with dozens of vintners in the area. The vintners have donated juice and helped create two very special wines. This kind of team effort will ensure that the community will have long-term support for this cause. This year, all 100% of the net proceeds of the sale of these wines will go to the following Napa-area charities:

The Wolfe Center: A community-based Drug and Alcohol Program for teens and families in Napa County.

Cope Family Center: A support and education center for families in crisis.

Aldea Children and Family Services: A professional mental health and child welfare service provider for Napa and Solano Counties.

Foster Kids Fund (FKF): An all-volunteer, non-profit community organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Napa County children in foster care.

What a great thing these volunteers and vintners are doing! They are giving of themselves and getting a great deal of good in return! What a warm feeling this gives me! I received one bottle of each of the two wines as samples and I have to admit, these wines are pretty special and cost a fraction of what I would value them at!

The 2008 Charity Case Rosé was bursting with fruit! Though they have kept the varietal content under wraps, it doesn’t really matter because the truth is it is delicious and a great find at $12 per bottle! Bursting with ripe cherry and strawberry flavor! 100% fermented in neutral French oak, stock up now for warm weather days coming up in the Spring! Buy some now and share the love!

The latest of the Charity Case wines is the 2009 Charity Case Sauvignon Blanc. Most people are used to the crisp acidity of Sauvignon Blanc, but this one is completely different. It is barrel fermented in new French oak barrels, giving it a creamy, smoky quality with stone fruit and tropical notes. Really beautiful! $12.

This year, a group of Napa vintners has donated 10 tons of Chardonnay to the cause so please stay tuned for new wines in the future! These wines are sold by the case and can be purchased by contacting: or

Or you may purchase on-line at the following link:

To learn more about the Charity Case Foundation and the Napa-area charities it supports, please go to the following website:

I think helping the Charity Case Foundation is a wonderful way for any wine lover to give back this season or anytime! Doesn’t that make you feel great???

"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.