What We Say 2008 Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
LIMITED AVAILABILITY ALERT:
Today’s 95 Point wine will certainly sell out – so act quickly. This is a rare opportunity to taste the best that the Robert Mondavi Winery has to offer – from one of the most famous vineyard sources in the world, the coveted To Kalon Vineyard.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s selection from Robert Mondavi Winery and winemaker Genevieve Janssens is a truly extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignon, crafted from some of the fines, most sought after vineyard sources in the Napa Valley . Be sure to stock up as our allocation is extremely limited.
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Mission Codename: The Highest Beauty
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Robert Mondai Winery and secure a wine that is only available at the winery. Make an allocation available to our well-deserving Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Robert Mondavi Winery
Wine Subject: 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
Winemaker: Genevieve Janssens
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. Today only, The Wine Spies are proud to be the only wine merchant in the world to bring you, our national audience of Wine Spies Operatives, this rare opportunity to taste this extraordinary wine.
The wold famous To Kalon Vineyard, is one of the most prized vineyards in America. To Kalon, Ancient Greek for “the highest beauty”, is the vineyard that provides Robert Mondavi Winery with most of the grapes for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, and Oakville District Cabernet Sauvignon and is the exclusive source of Sauvignon Blanc for the estate bottled Fumé Blanc Reserve and I Block Fumé Blanc.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep, dark burgundy with a dense and deepening heart of darkest purple. Coloration remains evenly concentrated, from the core of the wine right out to the very edge of the glass. After a good swirl, the wine settles very quickly, leaving behind tall, thin columns of, widely spaced tears legs that meander slowly down the glass.
Smell – Bold and lush, with black cherry and overripe blackberry that seem to leap from the glass. These are supported by bold aromas of spiced blueberry, cigar box, leather, black currant, black licorice, sweet brown spice, cocoa powder, crushed violets and dark minerals, with a subtle hint of wild fennel.
Feel – Plush and full-bodied on entry with a rich, dense medium-bodied feel at the mid-palate. Firm, integrated tannins provide backbone without making the wine feel hard edged or overpowering. At the very end, flinty minerals support an easy dryness that spreads throughout the palate.
Taste – Dark and rich, with layer upon layer of flavor, leading with dark mixed berries of blackberry, blueberry, black cherry and overripe mulberry. Black plum, sweet tobacco leaf, leather, cocoa powder and brown spice follow. After the wine opens up, dried fall leaves, cigar box and flint are revealed.
Finish – After the wine coast the palate, black fruits gradually yield to the earthen flavors of leather, spice and dried leaves. At the tail end, hints of black pepper and dark minerals persist.
Conclusion – A powerhouse of a wine, today’s fantastic 2008 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve comes very highly recommended. Bold and delicious, this 2008 vintage wine is drinking really beautifully – while showing remarkable promise. As great as this wine is, today, we can’t help but predict that it will reveal additional greatness as the years (and decades?) progress. Rich, bold and full on the palate, this wine also shows a softer side. Especially after some decanting. Let this wine really breathe, for best results. Pair with something hearty, like a spiced pork tenderloin or a black pepper-rubbed t-bone steak. Drink now, but hold onto a few bottles for the next decade – or more!
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
Awards & Accolades:
95 Points – Wine Advocate – “The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is a big wine loaded with black fruit, cedar, licorice, grilled herbs and tar. Layers of flavor build effortlessly to the muscular, virile finish. Despite its size, the 2008 Reserve maintains elements of classicism that serve to balance some of the wine’s more extroverted leanings. The wine impresses for its depth, expressive inner perfume and beautifully integrated tannins. It is a showstopper from Mondavi. The 2008 Reserve is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2028.”
93 Points – Wine Spectator – “Rich, supple and graceful, with firm tannins supporting ripe plum, currant, blackberry and spice. Full-bodied, but not heavy or dense. Pleasantly complex and engaging. Drink now through 2022”
93 Points – International Wine Cellar – “Bright medium ruby. Very dark aromas of blackberry, cassis and licorice lifted by a violet element. Then juicy but quite tight on the palate, showing less sweetness than the 2007. A distinctly vertical, linear wine today; will it round out in barrel? Best today on the long, gripping finish, where the tannins are nicely ripe. The top cabernet lots got a maceration of up to 40 days in 2008, according to head winemaker Janssens.”
92 Points & Cellar Selection – Wine Enthusiast – “A very fine Cabernet, fancy and elegant in the mouth, although the tannins are tough and the wine wants some time. Your first impression is of astringency, a combination both of grape skin and oak tannins. Next, the blockbuster core of blackberries and black currants hits, leading to a long, spicy finish. Despite high alcohol, this seems like a wine that should develop over the next ten years.”
About This Wine:
Dark blueberry and cherry aromas combine with a hint of black olive and sage to form the aromatic base of the wine. The new French oak imparts flavors of roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Fine, ripe tannins provide structure and flow to the complex, elegant finish.
Vintage: The 2008 vintage began with above normal rainfall but then was followed by one of the driest springs on record. April brought the threat of frost and many sleepless nights for vineyard managers who protected the crop from severe damage. Dry winds during bloom and berry set reduced yields and then Mother Nature provided an excellent ripening season. Small berries in Cabernet Sauvignon elevated fruit quality, and because of the lighter crop, harvest came a bit early. The last Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were picked in mid-October.
Vineyards: The To Kalon Vineyard lies at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains on the western side of the Oakville appellation. The vineyard’s name comes from the ancient Greek for “highest beauty,” and with its diversity of rich alluvial soils consistently produces wines of distinction and complexity. Our Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is blended from selected blocks from To Kalon as well as other vineyards within the Oakville Bench.
Winemaking: Each vineyard block is carefully hand-harvested in small containers. The grapes are then gently hand sorted in our To Kalon Fermentation Cellar. The clusters are destemmed directly into oak fermentation tanks using a gravity-flow method which eliminates the use of a must pump. After fermentation, the young wine goes through 40 days of maceration to enhance varietal complexity and extract refined, supple tannins. To drain and press, the free-run wine flows by gravity directly to barrels and the pomace (skins and seeds) is conveyed to a basket press for a gentle extraction. Malo-lactic fermentation occurs in barrels. Our Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. This 2008 was bottled in November, 2010. The grand terroir of To Kalon and the meticulous attention of our winemaking team create a wine which can age for many decades.
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: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon 8% Cabernet Franc 7% Petit Verdot
Grape Sourcing: 82% To Kalon Vineyard; 100% Oakville District, Napa Valley
TA: 6.5 g/L
RS: 0.66 g/L