Did you know that this year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, California? It is. I learned this when I spoke with Mr. Mark de Vere, Master of Wine with Robert Mondavi Winery during the Vancouver International Wine Festival 2016. What a milestone.
Did you also know that Robert Mondavi started the Vancouver International Wine Festival? It was originally him, bringing his California wines here to Vancouver, and has now grown into what we have today. Thank you Mr. Mondavi.
Mark de Vere was very enthusiastic to talk to me about the winery, their vineyards, and to sip and discuss some of the wines that he had brought to the Festival this year. In particular we enjoyed a glass of:
- Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fume Blanc 2014
- Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
- Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
And a special wine, a red Bordeaux blend, made specifically for the 50th anniversary of the winery: Maestro 2013, of which I was the first to taste in Canada! Let’s review these wines together.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fume Blanc 2014
Before Robert Mondavi, nobody had heard of Fume Blanc. Do you know why? Because Robert Mondavi was the first to coin the term. Fume Blanc is an oaked Sauvignon Blanc. The barrel aging tones down the high acidity, and often quite citrusy and green flavours from this grape, as well as adds round texture to the wine. 5-10% of the Semillon grape is added in for extra texture and complexity. 2/3 of the wine undergoes barrel aging. This wine had nice green aromas in the glass. It was dry, medium body, and medium acidity. Quite round. Lees, citrus, lime and a hint of stone fruit on the palate. An elegant way to enjoy Sauvignon Blanc.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Almost opaque garnet in colour. Some dill, dried herb and cassis aromas. Dry, medium body with a lighter mouth feel. Light cassis flavours with fine tannins. Bright and fresh dark fruit flavours. A very nice wine.
Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
In Oakville, you will find the world-famous To Kalon vineyard. The vineyard was planted by Henry W Crabb in the late 1860s, covered more than 359 acres, and was named with the Greek words to kalon meaning ‘the highest beauty’. He had experimented with more than 400 different grape varieties in the vineyard, I’ve read. Henry Crabb died in 1899 and the vineyard changed hands several times. It is now divided up between Robert Mondavi Winery, Opus One, a Robert Mondavi joint venture with Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and grape grower Andy Beckstoffer. What makes To Kalon special is it’s clonal diversity. Beckstoffer in 1994 after buying the site planted Cabernet clones 4, 6, 7, and 337, which all taste different giving you wonderful variety in the glass. The 31-acre To Kalon Vineyard H-block at Robert Mondavi Winery is dedicated to the study of Cabernet family varieties. Some say that To Kalon could be classified as a “First Growth” if that type of categorization was available in the United States.
This wine had a bigger, fruitier nose than the Napa Valley Cab. It was full of black fruit, cassis, and vanilla. Medium plus body, dry and soft with a mineral streak, and ripe cassis fruit. I really enjoyed this wine.
Robert Mondavi Maestro 2013
Maestro is a classic Right Bank Bordeaux blend, Merlot driven. Only 23 barrels were made of this exceptional wine. It is medium ruby in colour. Ripe cassis with a hint of nutmeg on the nose. Full body, silky, but with firm tannins. Ripe cassis, black fruit, with some chocolate and pepperiness on the palate. Also a streak of minerality. Mouth watering acidity on the finish. Buy this limited edition wine when it is released sometime in March and enjoy it with friends.
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary at Robert Mondavi Winery
On their website, there is an announcement about a free party you can attend. So if you are going to Napa, or live in the area, please register and be part of history. Here is the announcement from their website.
You’re invited to join us for our anniversary party! It’ll be a festive day and everyone’s welcome for live music, cooking and art demonstrations, wine tastings, and even hay rides through our To Kalon Vineyard.
When: July 16, 2016
Where: Robert Mondavi Winery, 7801 St. Helena Hwy, Oakville, CA 94562
My Youtube Interview with Mark de Vere
As part of my meeting with Mark at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, I made a short youtube video where he talks about Maestro. Watch the video here.