Robert Mondavi Winery - 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir / 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The Robert Mondavi Winery hardly needs an introduction; simply put it’s a legend. Sometimes though we take those legends for granted and it’s useful to remind ourselves they’re there and remember why they achieved their status to begin with. With that in mind I’ll take a look today at two of their current releases. The Robert Mondavi Winery 2010 Pinot Noir was produced using mostly fruit sourced in Carneros (93%); the remainder of the fruit is from the Russian River Valley (7%). This offering is 100% Pinot Noir. The fruit was hand-picked and some of it was whole cluster pressed while the balance was de-stemmed. After fermentation this Pinot Noir was aged in French oak for 7 months; 34% of the barrels were new. This offering has a suggested retail price of $27.

Aromas of cherry, spice, and earthy mushrooms fill the nose of this 2010 Pinot Noir. Copious red and black cherry flavors are prominent on the palate along with wild strawberry and bits of pomegranate. Sweet and sour cherry flavors continue through the finish which also shows off lots of clove, nutmeg, white pepper and hints of cinnamon. This wine has fairly firm, gripping tannins that yield with some aeration. This Pinot Noir is tasty now but look for it to improve significantly in the next year and drink well for a couple of years after that. The Robert Mondavi 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir is a fine example of this grape in this appellation at a fair price.

The Robert Mondavi Winery 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was produced using fruit sourced in Stag’s Leap and Oakville; 31% comes from the well regarded To Kalon vineyard. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), this wine also contains small amounts of Merlot (11%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Syrah (2%), Petit Verdot (1%) and Malbec (1%). After hand harvesting the fruit was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and oak tanks. 17 Months of barrel aging followed in French oak; 15% of them were new. The Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet has a suggested retail price of $28.

Cigar box and eucalyptus support strong bramble aromas on the dark and inviting nose of this 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Red raspberry and black cherry flavors lead the palate along with hints of sweet chocolate, toasty oak, blackberry and pepper. The solid finish shows off lots of earth, crushed cherries, and dusty dark cocoa. This wine has supple tannins that yield with air and time as well as firm acidity. This is an approachable Cabernet Sauvignon that will be at its best over the next 5-8 years.

These two wines are polar opposites of perception for me personally. The Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the first wine that comes to mind for me with the Mondavi Winery. It’s a release that has been a solid example of the varietal for decades as well as a good value; it continues to be exactly that. Pinot Noir on the other hand, for whatever reason isn’t a varietal I associate as quickly with the Mondavi Winery. That being said I’ve had this wine on numerous occasions over the years and It’s been a solid performer. The 2010 provides really nice varietal character, sense of place and good value to boot. If you haven’t checked in with the Robert Mondavi Winery in awhile, these releases are a good reason to.