For many years Robert Mondavi was the leader and some say godfather of high quality winemaking in Napa Valley California. He was the main advocater of putting the name of the grape on the wine labels, therefore making it easier for consumers to know what they were really drinking. When most americans were drinking cheap, sweet and even barely drinkable wines (hey, it was the 70´s and 80´s, what did you expect?) Mondavi and a few other winemakers were showing the world that Napa Valley could make wines that were as good and in some cases better than the wines in Bordeaux, France.
The respect for Robert Mondavi was so high that none other than the Rothschild family collaberated with his company to make the world famous OPUS ONE in Napa Valley! But in my opinion his biggest accomplishment was taking an unpopular grape variety in the U.S., the Sauvignon Blanc, and making it wildy popular by fermenting it in oak and changing the name to Fume Blanc.
Sadly, his sons would ruin the name and quality (in the opinion of the wine trade), by producing and marketing cheap wines through the Woodbridge line in the U.S. and the European Mediterranean line. It didn´t take long for the brothers to destroy the company and the Mondavi name in the wine business and in the end the company was sold to the Costellation company.
In my opinion, it took Constellation quite a while to bring the quality of the wines back up to the the old Mondavi standards. But in the end they achieved it, I have a feeling Robert is looking down from where he is, with pride at seeing the wine that bears his name today. Is this a cheap wine? No, and it is not supposed to be cheap. The Mondavi name is a symbol for high quality and that is never cheap. Is the wine worth the price? Ten years ago I would have said NO, but todays wine is definately worth the price, so the answer is YES. The Mondavi wines are back in their rightful place as one of the best in Napa Valley and are a joy to drink!
Here are two of the wines I got to taste the other day:
I feel that Mondavi wines are made with more of the softer French style in mind than the new world bold and heavy style. This Cabernet reminds me of a good Bordeaux wine than a heavy California Cab. The aroma is open and good with paprika, plums, oak and a soft vanilla tone. The palate takes a while to open up, but when it does it shows lots of plums, oak, cigar, green paprika, vanilla and a hint of mint. There tannin is there but it is not overpowering and the wine has a long finish. The wine is not nearly ready, and if it is to be be drunk in the next three years I suggest decanting it a couple of hours ahead of time. A great wine with any beef or lamb dish. The price is 7.999 kr.
The Carneros area is known in Napa as a outstanding growing area for Pinot Noir, and this wine shows why. Again the french influence is very high. The aroma is fairly closed to start with, but litlle by little it opens up with some heavy cherries. The palate is light and silky smooth with cherries, wild mushrooms, earth tones and a slight toasted bread flavour. The aftertaste is light, good and long. This wine is more ready to drink but can keep for a few years to develop. The price is 5.999 kr. and is a perfect pairing with pork or wild bird.