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2008 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Napa Valley came through the 2008 vintage better than many northern California AVAs. It was little-effected by the wildfires or their smoke and suffered fewer extreme weather conditions. That said, it was still a challenging year, as have been several of late. Late frost and an extremely dry spring were the primary culprits.

In Bordeaux which so often faces adverse weather, the chateaux use blends to decrease risk and increase the likelihood of turning out balanced and delicious wines. Different varieties bud and ripen at different times. That diversity means only portions of the total crop are subject to damage from late spring frost and rain or late summer rains and rot.

Napa Valley’s typically idyllic weather enables many wineries to produce single-vineyard, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines of very high quality almost every year. However, several recent vintages have been troublesome. In such years, producers of multi-vineyard, multi-variety blends are much better positioned to make delectable wine without compromising volume too much.

The 2008 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is a good example of the latter. Cabernet Sauvignon makes up the majority of the blend at 85%, but four other varieties round out the wine. Included is a small measure of Syrah, something the Bordelais can’t even use. (Syrah is disallowed by law in that region.) The end result is a delicious, full-bodied red wine.

I08_mondavi_cab_napa_valley tasted it in a blind flight of four red wines from around the world. The Mondavi Cabernet turned out to be the only American wine in the bunch and set itself apart accordingly with a friendly nose and loads of ripe fruit: blackberry, warm cherry and raspberry. There was plenty of Fall spice too, especially allspice, and essences of eucalyptus and currant leaf.

While the 2008 Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was good from the outset, it blossomed after about 45 minutes of air. The fruit became richer, deeper and was enveloped in mocha. If you drink it now, decant the wine for up to an hour. Fine powdery tannins and moderate acidity make it suitable for aging, but it’s so good now I’d have a hard time waiting. Drink through 2018. Highly Recommended.

2008 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2018
Bottling Date: June 2010
Closure: Cork
Retail Price: $28.00

Winemaker: Genevieve Janssens
Blend: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% Merlot 5% Cabernet Franc 2% Syrah 1% Petit Verdot
Origin: Napa Valley, 40% To Kalon Vineyard
Fermentation: Stainless and oak tanks, 21-day extended maceration

Aging: 16 months in French oak barrels

Alcohol: 15%

The wine above was received from the winery for review. It was tasted blind.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2011 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.