A Toast to Mondavi Wines

The family that put California wines on the map—and on our tables—has released many impressive bottles over the years. We asked some wine writers and experts to select their favorite Mondavis.

 

Anthony Dias Blue

Wine and spirits editor of Bon Appétit magazine

1970 Unfined Cabernet Sauvignon

Four years after ground was broken for the winery, Mondavi produced this gem—a rich, complex, outspoken wine that swaggers into the room and says, “California has arrived!”

1985 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Around this time, the Mondavis decided that big and brash was not necessarily best. This lovely wine artfully combines California’s assertive, ripe fruit with a more European restraint and subtlety. The age of elegance had arrived.

1985 Pinot Noir Reserve

After years of messing around with this temperamental variety, they finally got it right. A rich, silky wine with lovely ripe cherry fruit and no hint of greenness. A turning point in the making of pinot in California.

1994 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

The ’90s were a golden age for California wines, and this is the best Mondavi effort of the period—a stylish, expansive wine with great complexity, elegance, and assurance.

1999 Boomerang!

An example of the Mondavis’ constant exploration of new ideas, this harmonious, luscious, fruity combination of Syrah, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet Franc may be a sign of things to come from the winery in the new century.

Richard Carleton Hacker

Contributing editor of Robb Report

 

1997 Cabernet Sauvignon ReserveA big, bold red that captures finesse and strength in one glass.

1997 Opus One

A classic blend in a classic year. Enhanced by 16 months of aging in new French oak, this is an elegant red wine no cellar should be without.

1997 Arrowood Merlot Réserve Spéciale (Sonoma County)

A meaty, 100 percent merlot full of blackberries and cherries with a thick vanilla and tannin finish.

1997 Robert Mondavi Winery To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Mondavi is known for its reds and this one, which was aged for 18 months in new French oak, is one of its classics. The grapes from this vintage reflect one of the best (and earliest) vintage years for Napa’s legendary cabernet sauvignon harvests.

1999 Pinot Noir Carneros Huichica Hills La Chouette

Velvety and complex, and will become even more so with further aging.

 

 

Stephen Williams

President and founder of The Antique Wine Co. of Great Britain

 

 

1974 Mondavi Cabernet ReserveI have distinct memories of tasting this wine alongside Cheval Blanc 1975 at a tasting in Miami, Fla., last year. It had the striking flavors of minty oriental spices; I understand these derive from the presence of eucalyptus trees in the vineyards. The mature color was very deceptive, as the wine’s flavor was still full with the sweet, powerful fruit of a typical Napa cabernet. The ’75 Cheval Blanc was certainly overshadowed by it.

1991 Opus One

It’s a wonderful wine, with very concentrated black fruit and a long, sweet aftertaste. I had a bottle last fall, and the wine was not faded by age at all—the color was black and dark all the way through.

 

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