Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Napa Wine Tasting: Robert Mondavi Winery


Stepping into the Robert Mondavi winery in Napa Valley, is like many other winery visits, you are immediately transported to a blissful haven of scenic beauty and tranquility. Even in the heart of wine country, this popular facility is truly like stepping into paradise. Parking at the winery finds you amongst the rows and rows of grape vines and once you walk under the famed arch of the facility, you immediately step into an amazing courtyard with beautiful gardens back-dropped by more and more vineyards. It is a feast for the senses, and that is before you even find your way into one of the tasting rooms.

As a member of one of the sister wineries, we were greeted in a private, members-only tasting room. The staff was friendly, informative and the wine was scrumptious. There is a reason why Mondavi is such a common name in wine circles. Even many casual wine drinkers are familiar with Mondavi wines. Richard was our host and he was incredibly knowledgeable about the wine, the facility and Mondavi himself. He gave us tips on swirling and tasting.

We learned the To Kalon vineyard, meaning "highest beauty," in Greek, is one of the oldest first-growth vineyards in the world, originally planted in 1868. This particular vineyard produces some of Mondavi's finest wines, including its world class cab and is the exclusive source of the Oakville Fume' Blanc.

All in all, we tasted 10 wines. My roommate and I chose 4 wines each, enabling us to taste 9/10 offered options, Richard kindly threw in the moscato and happily provided a sample of a dessert wine upon request.

It was on this tasting where I learned that I prefer Unoaked Chardonnay over Oaked Chardonnay. The 2012 Unoaked Chard was smooth, slightly sweet, yet slightly dry, almost a perfect balance.

Five of the eleven wines we tasted were winery exclusives, as in, you can only purchase them from the winery. I came home with four of the eleven, two of my absolute favorites were:

2013 Pinot Noir Clone 115
2012 Pinot Noir PNX

I also really enjoyed the 2011 Momentum, which is a red blend with 90% merlot.

Finally, as true to my form, I purchased the 2013 Moscato d'Oro and my absolute favorite was the 2001 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc called Botrytis. I find this ironic, considering the name Botrytis is the name of a grape fungus that destroys crops. Regardless of the name, the wine is amazing, if you like sweet wines or dessert wines, since they are my favorite, I had to get at least one bottle of this, I am likely to go back for some more!

The winery is beautiful, the service exceptional, the wine.. well it is Mondavi after all, so I would expect nothing less than tasty, wonderful wine and I was not disappointed. While I get free tasting and discounts from this winery due to my membership at a sister winery, I enjoyed Mondavi wines so much that I may actually join it too, just to get some more frequently! I saw their online store had a pinot clone 777, which I am dying to try, so I see another visit to Mondavi in my near future.

While it is one of the more popular tourist destinations in St Helena, it is completely worthy of your time. If you visit Mondavi, stop by and tell me what you think!