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May 13

WBW #57: California Inspiration

Today's Wine Blogging Wednesday is sort of a memorial to Robert Mondavi, who passed away about a year ago. It's hosted by Jeff at The Good Grape, and he asks us to taste a California wine that was part of a memorable chapter in our life, and tell that story.

The easy route for this theme would be to taste a Mondavi wine, but
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Mondavi would have preferred
an air of openness.  No good is accomplished by a singularity of
purpose that acts as an exclusionary barrier for others.

Please go buy or pull from your stash, a bottle of whatever that
California wine was that created a memorable chapter in your life, revisit the
bottle, and share your story.

Well, I am taking the easy route – partly due to lack of time and partly because one of my favorite evenings ever took place at the Mondavi Vineyard summer concert series in 2005, with a lot of Mondavi wine. One wine, in particular, stands out for me.

In July of 2005, we stayed in Santa Rosa, which proved to be the perfect vantage point to
access both Sonoma and Napa, and then enjoy a brewpub or sushi in Santa
Rosa come evening. Because Kevin attended an annual conference in San
Francisco, our trips tended to lead up to, and occasionally cross July
4th. On this particular trip, the Mondavi Summer Concert series was
hosting the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and celebrating July 4th. (2005 Mondavi photos)

On the recommendation of the folks at Domaine Carneros,
we stopped at the Oakville Grocery before the concert. Oakville Grocery
is practically across the street from Mondavi and in the "front yard,"
so to speak, of Opus One. It's surrounded by vines. Inside, it was
crowded with people and Kevin and I split up to pick up specialty
sandwiches, yummy pastries, and cheeses, as well as a bottle or two of
water. It all went into a box, and we wandered into Mondavi.

spread our blanket out behind a young family. Turns out these folks
lived there in Napa, which seems positively wonderful to me. What a
great family! We all purchased our various wines in the Mondavi wine
shop and we shared.We talked about the wine and enjoyed the wines with
complete strangers as the uplifting strains of New Orleans jazz floated
over the evening. In the back of the courtyard, tables were set up at
the vineyard edge. Robert Mondavi and his wife, Margrit, were there. At
times they were up and swing dancing, and looking very much in love. At
the end of the evening, fireworks exploded in the sky, lighting up the
vineyards and the mountains.

It was really one of the most
perfect nights of my life. Vineyards, wine, beauty, music, history, and
good company. I remember one of the wines the young couple shared with us, and I promptly bought two bottles.

Sorry Jeff, it's a Mondavi, but a suitably impressive one to fulfill the WBW qualifications, I hope.

2001 Robert Mondavi Stag's Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon, $55 @ winery

This wine was actually made by Robert's son Tim, but it shows that talent runs in the family. I know a lot of my friends associate the Mondavi brand with low-end wine, but the man (and his family) can make some great mid- to high-end bottles, without a doubt. After all, Mondavi was one of the guys behind Opus One.

This particular Cabernet was fruit forward, gravelly and volcanic. It was a bit sulfuric on the nose, but it blew off after a bit. I suspect two things: we should have decanted for a few hours (although we never think that far ahead) and our second bottle of this will age nicely for another couple of years.

Perhaps because I am emotionally attached to this wine, or perhaps I think it was my fault for not decanting in the first place, I still give this wine a .

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Posted by Michelle at 8:56 am in WBW, Wine Notes, Wineries | Permalink | Comments ()

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