Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mmmmmm, Mondavi

I'm sitting here with my first ever glass of Robert Mondavi wine. Oldman's Guide turned me on to the old man's charms; being an incurable amateur, I'd never been struck by the name or the label while browsing in stores, so I'd never ventured to pick up a bottle until today.

Naturally, I opted for a pinot noir (my oft-mentioned favorite varietal) — one from 2005 (I'd still like to learn how and where to shop for vintages; as far as I can tell it's a crapshoot when you go wine shopping around here, and by that I mean, what year you see is what year you get) and from Mondavi's "private selection," no less. (Fancy sounding, sure, but I'm confident this is a meaningless differentiation and marketing ploy.)

This is a solid pinot (which I bought for about $14 but I found out on the website that is SRP is $11; d'oh!) of thick ruby coloration, with good structure. The nose is a little alcohol-y for my taste (it's kind of hypnotizing, though, to stick your nose in a glass and just inhale ... mmmm), but put some in your mouth and it the alcohol is tamed by some excellent tannins and the unmistakable presence of an oak foundation, upon which a subdued group of rich berries and subtle spices (coaxed into the spotlight by the vintage's small percentage of syrah in the mix) rests.

Mondavi is the American master. Which probably means a lot of what he does has been inflated and over-hyped. And yet! This pinot is sophisticated and yet playful, in the way it continues to dance in your mouth long after you've put the glass down. It will be fun to work my way through his other varietals, especially the much hyped fumé blanc, which is really a sauvignon blanc in hyper-marketed clothing.


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