Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sipping Wine at Robert Mondavi

Another of the great and well known wineries we visited during our Wine Week in Napa and Sonoma was the Robert Mondavi Winery in Rutherford, CA.

This is another of those larger than life wineries and is another winery which, because of its size, wasn't on our original daily plan, but because we were there at the end of the day and felt like doing one more winery, we stopped to visit.

The winery is expansive with a large parking lot and big open areas. As always, we went to the reserve tasting to taste some of their wines. The reserve tasting was actually recommended to us by another winery we had visited when the person doing the pouring chatted with us and discovered the kinds of wines we really enjoyed.

I admit--the reserve tasting included four wines with retail prices of $135, but we were able to do a vertical tasting of the reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2006. I love vertical tastings and thins one helped confirm in my mind that right now, my favorite vintage of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is 2005 due to its complexity and deep tannins. The 2005's we samples around Napa are definitely not for the fruit lovers in us--but for the hard core, rocking deep, complex wine lovers.

As the tastings in Napa go--this one was one of the few that was simple a pour and go. Meaning that they poured our flight of wines and sent us away to enjoy and sample them without the narrative to describe the wines. I have come to like the narrative. I want to understand the wines and the weather conditions that helped to create them.

The other thing I was looking for from this winery was--so what is so special about a wine which retails for $135? And is it special enough to make me want to buy it?

The answer, sadly, is that I found many wines for less than half the price which stand up to these highly priced and special wines--so no, I cannot yet be convinced to buy them. Actually the B.V 2005 Maestro Cabernet which retails for $65 (and was on a half price sale by the case at the winery) matched up real well. OK--better. If I didn't live in Maryland, I would have a case. Thanks Maryland!

But, I did thoroughly enjoy tasting wines that are so far outside my current budget--just to see what makes them special. They were complex, and they were very good wines, but in my opinion--priced about double their true value given the range of wines we sampled during the week.

Don't misunderstand--the visit to the winery was fantastic and I am glad we visited--the perspective was extremely useful. But, I'm not likely to being home a reserve Mondavi in the too near future.

Recommendation: Put this winery on your B list. Visit if you have time, because it is a beautiful stop and a delightful way to end the day. We were in Rutherford anyway. But, depending upon the length of your visit to Napa, there are better places to focus attention on. I admit, we did not take a tour--this was one of those point and shoot stops based upon a recommendation from another winery. If you are really in to Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and the $135 price tag doesn't scare you--this winery should be raised to the bottom of your A list.

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