What We Say 2006 Chardonnay Reserve
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Mission Codename: The passion shines through
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our friends at Robert Mondavi Winery and retrieve thier delicious Chardonnay Reserve.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Robert Mondavi Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Chardonnay Reserve
Winemaker: Genevieve Janssens
Backgrounder: Chardonnay is arguably the greatest of all white grape varietals, showing its influence in the legendary sparkling wines of Champagne, the great whites of Burgundy and of course its expression as ‘the’ white wine of California. Chardonnay represents over 50% of the planted white grapes in California with nearly 100,000 acres planted. With such a great number of wines made from this grape, it stands to reason that finding wines of immense quality would be hard, but look no further. In this wine, we have found perhaps the ideal expression of the California Chardonnay.
In 1966, Robert Mondavi was a man with a mission. Mondavi had the vision to create the first major post-prohibition winery in the United Stated. His dream of crafting the best wines in the world has been realized and today the winery is recognized as a global leader in fine wine. Mondavi’s exclusive wines, which are usually only available at the winery itself, are extraordinary.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Pale golden yellow with golden and greenish hues that shine through this wine’s glistening clear core. The color fades gracefully at the edge and when swirled, slow fat legs descend to the springy wine below and settles quickly hinting at is weight.
Smell – Fresh and bright aromas of green and stone fruit including green apple and fresh fig. A touch of restrained oak reveals itself with vanilla creme and toast notes along with hints of white flower and spice.
Feel – Full-bodied with excellent wight on the palate, this dry wine balances its lively and crisp acidity and minerality perfectly.
Taste – Abundant flavors of the fruit found on the nose with the apple almost reminiscent of spiced baked apple. Add to this well integrated vanilla, oak, toast and spice.
Finish – Fresh and long with notes of green apple, spice and toast with lingering vanilla sweetness that clings to the palate.
Conclusion – The 2006 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Reserve is a delicious example of a balanced California Chardonnay. Not a butter-ball or oak bomb, but not too restrained either – lovely balance that makes this wine a great food wine. We paired this wine with grilled Branzino (Mediterranean sea-bass).
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER_
SUBJECT: Genevieve Janssens
DATE OF BIRTH: October 1950
PLACE OF BIRTH: Oujda, Morocco
WINE EDUCATION: Diploma in Enology – Bordeaux, France
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 1978 – 1979 Robert Mondavi Winery Lab Enologist, 1989 – 1997 Director of Production Opus One, 1997 – current Director of Winemaking Robert Mondavi Winery
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Making wine in a more natural way; respecting the sense of origin. Thriving for the best.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Being mentored by Mr. Mondavi and following his philosophy.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: Be passionate about making wine.
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Genevieve. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Chardonnay Reserve today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
GENEVIEVE: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to discuss this special wine.
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
GENEVIEVE: Following my father’s footsteps. He was a grape grower and a winemaker – making wine with passion.
WHITE: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
GENEVIEVE: I have learned through my whole career – I’m still learning.
WHITE: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
GENEVIEVE: I am laisser-faire by nature. I believe in the least amount of interference in winemaking and always letting the terroir sing.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
GENEVIEVE: Cabernet Sauvignon and Mr. Mondavi influenced me the most. I find them both inspiring.
WHITE: How long have you been making wine?
GENEVIEVE: 40 years
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
GENEVIEVE: I am inspired by Mother Nature and Mr. Mondavi always pairing food with wine. Wine must be a companion of every meal.
WHITE: Tell me, what makes the Carneros region so special?
GENEVIEVE: Carneros is located close to the ocean and receives the breeze in the morning with nice fog so the fruit is bathed in a beautiful blanket.
WHITE: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
GENEVIEVE: Follow your passion. Mr. Mondavi said if you find a job you love you never work a day in your life.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
GENEVIEVE: We are working on blends for the 2009 Chardonnay Reserve and beginning our vineyard visits to start assessing what is in store for the 2010 vintage. It is a beautiful day in Napa Valley that makes you want to spend all your time in the vineyards.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
GENEVIEVE: The 2006 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Reserve is sourced from three vineyards in Carneros. Instead of clones, the vineyards were planted using mass selection as the growers sought concentration over yield. When it was felt that the various elements were at an optimum, the vineyards were harvested and pressed as whole clusters. The resulting juice, after separating out the higher pressings, was barreled for fermentation using 45% new French oak in barrels that promote the fruit concentration. After partial malo-lactic fermentation, the wine was aged on the lees, Sur Lie, for nine months prior to bottling. Our wine style continues the fashion set by Robert Mondavi to accompany food as part of a fine dining experience.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
GENEVIEVE: Poached Halibut with grilled asparagus and Yukon gold potatoes
WHITE: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
GENEVIEVE: My son, Georges, is starting a World Wine charity tour in January that will last 9 months.
WHITE: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
GENEVIEVE: Any wine which matches the meal.
WHITE: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
GENEVIEVE: With a very natural way. Our wines are made to be enjoyed with friends and good food. Wine is part of a meal and should not be seen as a mysterious beverage. Simplicity is the essence when approaching wines.
WHITE: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
GENEVIEVE: Cabernet Sauvignon and Fume Blanc
WHITE: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
GENEVIEVE: I think you have done a pretty good job to understand the wine you are going to promote.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
GENEVIEVE: Thank you.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Robert Mondavi Winery
About This Wine:
Focused and lively, this is a big wine with supporting acids that keep it light on its feet. Opulent aromas of pear, golden-delicious apple and crème brulée lead to
lush flavors that mirror the nose. Finely textured with a long finish that ends with a subtle note of hazelnut.
The 2006 Chardonnay Reserve is opulently fragrant with aromas of pear, golden delicious apple and a hint of minerality. Barrel fermentation and extended oak aging contribute underlying notes of crème brulée and toasty bread. The wine’s warm golden hue invites the first sip, which delivers on all the promise of the nose, filling the mouth with rich fruit flavors and fine-grained textures. Firm, focused and lively, this is a big wine that is light on its feet. Subtle acids support the luscious fruit, and the wine finishes long with a note of hazelnut at the finale.
VINTAGE: 2006 in Napa Valley began with a wet winter that extended into spring, with more than twice the average rainfall in the month of March and nearly four times the average in April. The prodigious precipitation delayed bloom, but once the skies cleared, the vines had good fruit set and progressed slowly and steadily through slightly warmer than usual June weather. In July, a brief hot spell of four consecutive days over 100°F had the effect of putting the vines “on hold” before ripening continued when mild weather returned in August. August temperatures were lower than usual, and the trend continued through September and October, with some fog and cloudy days. Overall, the 2006 growing season was significantly cooler than average. Because of the delayed spring and cool late-season temperatures, harvest was later than normal. We picked fruit for the Chardonnay Reserve on one day—October 31. Crop levels were average and thanks to the long hang time, which allowed the grapes to ripen slowly and evenly, quality was excellent.
VINEYARDS: We hand-selected the majority (89%) of grapes for the Reserve Chardonnay from the Los Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA), which spans the southernmost edge of Napa and Sonoma Valleys. All of the Carneros fruit for this wine came from the Napa side, as reflected in its Napa Valley appellation. The region’s marine climate combined with nutrient-lean, clay loam soils provides ideal conditions for the development of deeply-flavored Chardonnay. The balance of fruit came from other Napa Valley vineyards. For the Reserve, we focus on sourcing fruit from ranches planted with budwood from old
vineyards. Overall, more than 95% of the fruit for the 2006 Reserve came from mass-selection vineyards—in particular, the Old Wente selection, which accounts for 57% of the blend and provides backbone and weight to the wine.
FERMENTATION AND AGING: Vineyards were hand-harvested into small bins in the cool morning hours and immediately whole-cluster pressed at the To Kalon Cellar to retain maximum fruitiness and delicacy. Using several yeast strains and allowing a small portion to ferment with wild yeast, we barrel-fermented 90% of the juice in French oak (36% new), with the balance in stainless steel tanks. During partial malolactic fermentation and throughout barrel aging, we gently stirred the wine (battonage) to develop complex flavors and rich, creamy texture. The wine barrel-aged sur lie (on the yeast lees) for about 10 months. The winemaker used a good percentage of new barrels (30%) for aging, and transferred the wine to neutral barrels after about nine months when the just-right level of oak character was achieved. This barrel regimen added weight and an impressive layer of vanilla spice complexity to the wine’s concentrated fruit flavors.
About The Winery:
In 1966, emboldened by boundless enthusiasm, and a conviction that California could produce wines that would belong in the company of the world’s finest, Robert Mondavi set out on his own to found the first major winery built in the valley since prohibition: Robert Mondavi Winery. Since then the open arch of the Robert Mondavi Winery has welcomed thousands of guests who have come to share in Robert’s love of wine, food, and art.
With the release of the Robert Mondavi Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon in the late 60’s the world’s eyes were opened to the potential of the Napa Valley. The historic Paris tasting in 1976, where two former winemakers of the Robert Mondavi Winery won first prize, further supported this revelation.
Robert Mondavi’s commitment to the industry and to promoting wine as part of a gracious lifestyle led to his “mission tour” in the late 1980s. He crossed the country, educating restaurateurs, media and most of all consumers on wine’s integral role in culture and civilization.
After 41 years, Robert Mondavi Winery still embodies its founder’s commitment to excellence, innovation and creative spirit while continuing to produce wines that stand in the company of the world’s finest.
About The Winemaker:
Genevieve Janssens, Director of Winemaking – Genevieve Janssens learned early that the secret to winemaking success is to focus on quality. In her father’s vineyards, she followed him closely, listening and absorbing his philosophy. “My father believed that no matter what the conditions, you will survive by having the best quality, nothing else,” she declares. Seeing her father’s business succeed in difficult times, when others failed, convinced her that he was right.
Born in Morocco and raised in France, Genevieve’s formal wine education began under the tutelage of the legendary “three fathers” of modern enology—Jean Ribereau-Gayon; his son, Pascal Ribereau-Gayon; and Emile Peynaud—with whom she studied at the University of Bordeaux, France. After receiving her National Diploma of Enology 1974, she returned to her family’s vineyards in Corsica and France, which she managed from 1974 to 1977. Concurrently, she also owned and operated her own enology laboratory in Provence and served as consulting enologist to many French chateaux in the mid-seventies.
Drawn to the Robert Mondavi Winery’s philosophy in winemaking and winegrowing, Genevieve moved to the Napa Valley in 1978. She recognized in Robert Mondavi her father’s holistic approach to quality. “It starts with the earth, the legacy of what we have received from our ancestors and what we are going to leave for the future generation,” she says. “We must work to maintain the land, to grow so that we all live in symbiosis: the earth, the vines, the people—care creates quality.” From 1978–1979, she fully absorbed this philosophy, working at the Robert Mondavi Winery as a lab enologist and an assistant enologist. Deeply interested in the winemaking revolution taking hold in the state, Genevieve continued exploring California for the next decade, holding several consulting positions.
Genevieve’s connection to Robert Mondavi returned in 1989, when she became Director of Production at Opus One Winery. Then, in 1997, she came full circle as the Director of Winemaking at the Robert Mondavi Winery. Recently, she helped implement the To Kalon Project, the winery’s first major renovation since it was founded in 1966. The new To Kalon Fermentation Cellar allows Robert Mondavi Winery to make Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and Oakville District Cabernet Sauvignon in a winemaking facility equal to its surrounding historic To Kalon Vineyard. “I wanted to be there for the construction, creativity and challenge,” says Genevieve. “We have created a new winery for our To Kalon estate, one of the most extraordinary vineyards on earth.”
With her unique background, Genevieve brings a different sensibility and culture to the Robert Mondavi Winery’s winemaking team, with whom she meets regularly to taste wines, discussing style and vision. They also collaborate with the winegrowing team. “The winemaking and winegrowing teams are really one team,” she explains. “We have the same mission—to produce wines of great density and rich fruit character, wines of elegance and finesse that complement food. In this way, we combine the structure of the finest French wines with powerful fruit, California-style.”
Genevieve considers herself lucky to have a job she loves and sees little need of hobbies. But when not engrossed in her work at the winery, she does enjoy cooking. “But I can never make the same thing twice,” she warns. “I have a spontaneous imagination—if you liked the dish, I’m glad, but you’ll never taste it again!”
For Genevieve, carrying on the legacy of Robert Mondavi is both a joy and an honor. “With our To Kalon Cellar finished and the new vineyard projects underway, this is an exciting time for the winery, and for me,” she says. “I am proud to be the torchbearer of Mr. Mondavi’s vision.”
Genevieve lives in Napa Valley with her husband Luc and her two children, Gabrielle and Georges. She became a US citizen in 1985.
Grapes: Harvested at 23.2º Brix (average) with 0.72% initial acid and 3.37 pH
Grape Sourcing: 89% from Los Carneros AVA; remainder from other Napa Valley vineyards
Winemaking: Hand-harvested in cool morning hours
Whole-cluster pressed to retain maximum fruitiness and delicacy 90% barrel-fermented (36% new oak); remainder in stainless steel tanks Partial malolactic fermentation to fine tune acids and textural balance About 10 months aging sur lie in French oak barrels (36% new)
TA: 0.67% total acid
pH: 3.3 pH