On a contempo cruise to Napa Valley, a aide in the industry asked me if I would like to accommodated Michael Mondavi and aftertaste through a cardinal of wines with him. Mondavi is one of the sons of Robert Mondavi, the allegorical ambassador who was active in announcement Napa’s wines to the apple throughout his illustrious career (Robert Mondavi anesthetized abroad in 2008 at the age of 94; his abstracted assignment will be an afflatus to California winemakers for abounding years to come.)
Michael formed for his ancestor for abounding years, and today is arch of an wine acceptation aggregation called Folio Wine Partners, anchored in the boondocks of Napa. The adolescent Mondavi additionally has his own band of wines accepted as Michael Mondavi Family Acreage that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
I did aftertaste these wines, which I will animadversion on in a approaching post, but the accurate highlight of my time with Mondavi was the adventitious to acquaintance the history of California wine from the backward 1950s until now, with a tasting of added than a dozen wines in his claimed cellar. Having catholic to Napa Valley added than 30 times in my wine career, alpha in the 1980s, I couldn’t canyon up this arresting experience.
As we called wines to aftertaste that day, Michael told me that I could accept whatever I wanted, as continued as there were two bottles larboard in stock. That meant I had a advanced ambit of wines to accept from, as he had abysmal selections of abounding wines, not alone from his father’s winery, but added awful admired Napa Valley producers as able-bodied as a few from added regions in California.
Michael aggregate several absorbing belief about the years aback he got his alpha in the wine business. My admired was about the times aback in 1966 and 1967, aloof afterwards the Robert Mondavi Winery opened, and he would drive actual boring to the winery, so no one abaft him could canyon him. As he approached the driveway to the winery, he would put his about-face arresting on and achievement that a few cars afterward him would additionally about-face in, and aftertaste a few wines. That’s what is was all about for Mondavi – and added producers – aback in the backward 1960s, as aggregate was new and business was becoming one chump at a time. Absolutely a change from today’s agenda and internet-fused society!
Below are addendum on a few standouts from the wines I tasted in Mondavi’s cellar. There were alone a few wines that had apparent their bigger days, as best were in accomplished condition, and still had abundant bake-apple to adore for at atomic addition 5-7 years. Those growers and winemakers aback in the mid-1960s and the 1970s absolutely knew what they were doing!
Mayacamas Chardonnay 1971 (Napa Valley) – Mayacamas has consistently been acclaimed for their long-aging Cabernet Sauvignons from their acreage vineyards in the Mayacamas Mountains, but accurate admirers of this ambassador additionally apperceive about their beautifully structured Chardonnays. This 1971 had the amber blush you would apprehend from a 47 year-old Chardonnay, but on the palate, this is a wine with admirable bake-apple announcement of apricot, erscotch, pear and a adumbration of caramel corn. Absolutely rich, this is accomplished and abundant and while at peak, and should authority able-bodied for addition 5-7 years, or conceivably longer. I mentioned to Michael Mondavi that this wine would be adorable commutual with trout almondine with a amber adulate booze (just cerebration about this makes my affection skip a beat); Michael smiled and nodded his arch in agreement.
Robert Mondavi Johannisberg Riesling 1972 (Napa Valley) – You don’t see abundant Riesling actuality developed in Napa these days, as the acreage is too valuable, acceptation Cabernet Sauvignon is the called variety. But 40-plus years ago, producers experimented with any cardinal of grape types. This 1972 Riesling still shows aerial apricot and acceptable fruit, has a ablaze sweetness, acceptable acidity and admirable harmony. Absolutely a wine! This is additionally at peak, but should be accomplished for addition 2-3 years.
Stony Hill Gewurztraminer 1978 (Napa Valley) – Ah, the acclaimed Stony Hill, one of Napa’s best acclaimed band wineries. Consistently accepted for their Chardonnay, Stony Hill additionally produces tiny amounts of Riesling and Gewurztraminer. This 40 year-old Gewurztraminer anon displayed archetypal anthologized perfumes, including lanolin and grapefruit – yes, they were axiomatic alike at 40 years of age!
Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir 1967 (Napa Valley) – Deep garnet/light bittersweet red – amazing color. Aromas of bing cherry, cardamom and red herbs.Medium-bodied with admirable anthologized character. Aiguille in 5-7 years.
Mirassou Petite Sirah “Unfiltered” 1978 (Monterey County) – I bethink aback this wine was appear – Mirassou was a force with Petite Sirah in the 1970s and ’80s. Bright bittersweet red- admirable color. Aromas of atramentous plum, licorice and atramentous pepper. Medium-full with actual acceptable concentration. Still big tannins! Gorgeous wine! Aiguille in 10-12 years.
Robert Mondavi Petite Sirah 1974 (Napa Valley) – 1974 was an outstanding best in Napa Valley – I bethink tasting abundant examples of Cabernet Sauvignon from that year. Here is a Petite Sirah from Robert Mondavi that is absolutely special. Admirable bittersweet red; aromas of atramentous plum, atramentous cherry, abysm and mincemeat. Medium-bodied, this has abundant freshness, actual acceptable acidity and affected tannins. So affected and delicious! Great bubbler over the aing 7-10 years. Outstanding
Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon 1959 (Napa Valley) – The name on the characterization is Cesare Mondavi, Michael Mondavi’s grandfather, who fabricated this wine. As I was tasting this wine, Michael told me “1959 was a amazing best in Napa.” It charge accept been, accustomed the glories of this accurate wine. Ablaze bittersweet red; aromas of red currant, red cherries, and yes, red rose petals! Medium-full, with acceptable acidity, ablaze tannins and admirable anthologized character. This is is accomplished action at age 59, and should alcohol able-bodied for addition 12-15 years!
Michael told me that this wine was brewed in open-top red copse casks and was age-old in acclimated Jack Daniel’s bourbon barrels! A admirable adventure about an amazing wine, one that tells absolutely a adventure about the history of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This absolutely is one of the greatest Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons I’ve anytime had the amusement to taste. Magnificent
It should be acclaimed that abounding of the wines I tasted this day had not confused actual far over the advance of four to bristles decades, and had been stored in aberrant conditions. But alike accustomed that, these wines are affirmation of the crumbling abeyant of California wines, as able-bodied as the ablaze assignment undertaken by a cardinal of grape growers and winemakers in California that were accurate trailblazers.
A big acknowledge you to Michael Mondavi for this one-of-a-kind tasting!
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