A trip to Napa would not be complete without a trip to the Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Tasting Room. It would essentially be like visiting Paris without seeing the Eifel Tower. Or maybe the Louvre. While that might seem somewhat extreme, the 1993 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet sampled at the winery was an incredibly rare find. And that is the juice that you just might find at the reserve room at Mondavi. How famous are the Reserve Cabs from Mondavi? Considering the ratings from the top wine magazines, Wine Specator, Robert Parker and Wine Enthusiast. I’d venture to say that there is probably no other more impressive producer of high quality Napa Cabernet than Robert Mondavi Winery in the past 20 years. The overall ratings speak for themselves. A few years back I was lucky enough to enjoy a bottle of the 1996 Reserve Cabernet (94 points Steven Tanzer). While pricey, this wine was something out of this world -- a memorable wine that combined old world terroir with new world intensity.
Robert Mondavi Winery was founded in 1966 and the To Kalon Vineyard, planted at that time, has been renowned for producing some of the finest Cabernet in the world. Many people in the United States wine industry have been pushing to have the To Kalon Vineyard recognized as one of the first growth (highest rated) vineyards in North America. Along with To Kalon Vineyard, Robert Mondavi Winery sources grapes from some of Napa Valley’s great vineyards, including those from Stag’s Leap (particularly Cabernet) and Carneros (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay).
The winery itself is an incredible marvel. Statue upon statue mark the iconic winery, with the the incredibly beautiful vineyards in the background. If you have never made your way to Robert Mondavi Winery, it is truly a must-see for those interested in wine and also those taking in the aesthetic beauty of the accompanying vineyards.
While the regular wine tasting from Mondavi is very good, the Reserve tasting is where Mondavi pulls their best wines, particularly their esteemed Cabernets. Depending on when you visit, you can choose from Reserve Cabernets made in the early 2000s or 1990s. On previous occasions I’ve sampled their impressive reserve Cabernets from 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Here are some of the great wines that I recently tasted at Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Room.
2012 Reserve Pinot Noir- Powerful nose with raspberry and cherry pie with oak. Palate has cran-cherry, raspberry and dried herbs. Delicious. Drink in 2 years- 92
1993 Reserve Cabernet- Raisins and plum with oak and anise on the nose. Palate has graphite, cedar, mushroom, blackberry anise and creme de cassis. Rich and layered, just so much going on. Drinking beautifully now. -94
2009 Reserve Cabernet- Incredibly dense color. Hedonistic nose with creme de cassis, black plum and blackberry. Palate has creme de cassis, sage, chocolate, anise and blackberry. Tightly wound, needs 3 plus years. -93
2010 Reserve Cabernet- Dense nose with mocha and oak. Palate has anise, mocha, blackberry and is highly tannic. A sleeping giant, do not drink for 3 plus years. This is going to be a monster. -95
2011 Reserve Cabernet- More herbaceous on the nose than the others. Cedar, dried herbs, red bell pepper and mocha. Palate is extremely shut down, as this is probably a drinking window issue. Blackberry, anise, black cherry and highly tannic and acidic. Fruit needs to integrate. Needs 3 plus years for the fruit to fully integrate. Very impressive and complex effort, considering the vintage. -92