Mission Codename Yes, THE Reserve!
Great moments in history come not too often. This is one of them. At the very least for The Wine Spies & its esteemed Operatives. You, we mean. And us. We’re all witnessing a historic day. This is the one you’ve been waiting for. We can say with confidence that Santa just revisited us and stopped on the way at Robert Mondavi Winery. This flagship collectible is, unlike some other wines under Robert Mondavi, made in small quantities and highly allocated to worldwide fine wine establishments where it can easily cost in the $200s. For one day and one day only, The Wine Spies present a rarely seen opportunity to scoop up as much as you can under $100. Just don’t tell anyone.
The classicism here starts with the looks even, a deep claret with shimmering scarlet hues. The nose fills not just the glass but in a matter of minutes, the room emanates with superb fruit and sexy oak. An explosion of deep, dark fruits and iron-clad tannins define the palate profile, all delivered in a velvet glove’s caress. The finish goes on past the minute mark, as the wine persists effortlessly with sublime berries and graphite minerality. No doubt it’s built to age, while it can be thoroughly enjoyable now with breathing, and substantial steaks, along with rich, rich fare.
Let’s be honest. If Robert Mondavi did not spearhead California’s quality wine revolution back in ‘66, we would not be where we are today. In the 21st century, Mondavi remains a beacon, a true icon that carries the legacy with consistency, and no other wine of theirs speaks for this more than the To Kalon Reserve Cabernet. This landmark vineyard remains one of Napa Valley’s most storied and mythical. No other site in California can claim to have been as famous for as long as To Kalon, whose wines’ superlative quality was recognized nationwide over 150 years ago.
Mondavi’s Director of Winemaking Geneviève Janssens personally oversees this meticulous program and has been with the winery since 1978. She was like a daughter to the late Robert Mondavi and continues the dream, in her own words she singlehandedly “created a new winery for our To Kalon estate, one of the most extraordinary vineyards on earth.” Very few other Napa blue-chips come to mind with a track record of dozens of 95-100 scores from publications across the board, decade after decade. This is one of the pearls in a string, including Phelps’ Insignia, Caymus’ Special Selection, Beaulieu’s Georges de Latour and Beringer’s Private Reserve.
These wines are timeless works of art, of heritage, of distinction. You don’t get that every day.
Here’s what the wine press has to say:
The Tasting Panel Magazine – 99 Points - “Mesmerizing aromas of earth, violets, and fresh black and blue fruit give way to chalky tannins that dry the palate—part of that is pure youth. The acidity lifts the flavors to compensate for the tighter grip. Savory notes of soy sauce, espresso, sweet soil, and bittersweet dark chocolate rest on a praiseworthy pedestal.”
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate – 96+ Points - “A blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Reserve opens with beautifully fragrant kirsch, wilted roses, candied violets and dried Provence herbs notes over a core of wild blueberries, red and black currants and mulberries plus wafts of tobacco leaf and cardamom. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the palate with perfumed, crunchy black fruits framed by firm, ripe, grainy tannins and finishes long and earthy. Drink 2020-2038.”
Jeb Dunnuck – 96+ Points - “The flagship 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is a more long-term effort yet is loaded with potential. Coming all from Mondavi’s To Kalon holdings and seeing an extended maceration and 18 months in new oak, its deep purple color is followed by rocking notes of blackberries, black cherries, smoke tobacco, black licorice, and crushed rocks. With a terrific sense of minerality, subtle background oak, full body, and impeccable balance, hide bottles for 4-5 years and this beauty will cruise for 3 decades or so. Drink 2023-2053.”
What the Winery Says
2016 To Kalon Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
- Geneviève Janssens
- 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot
- Oakville, Napa Valley
- Total acidity
- 5.9 g/L
- Residual sugar
- 0.05 g/L
- 20 months
- 100% new French oak