Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wines
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Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wines

I've recently sampled three wines from the Robert Mondavi Private selection line. People are always asking me to recommend wines in the ten dollar range. My radar usually scans a few levels bit higher, but these well conceived wines, at a suggested retail each of $11.00, will absolutely fill the bill. They are largely Central Coast in origin, and in each case reflect some pretty solid grape growing and winemaking.

The 2008 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc is bottled under a California appellation, though with a decidedly Central Coast source, in this case 92% Monterey County. The Sauvignon Blanc is plumped up with 3% each of both Riesling and Gewurztraminer. This wine is cool fermented entirely in stainless steel, then aged on the lees in tank several months. What we get is a good mainstream California Sauvignon Blanc with excellent acidity and forward fruit. The nose enjoys some solid lemon citrus with pineapple in the background, the palate more papaya, melon and peach with some lemon weaving around. You get a definite tropical edge out of this one, and it is refreshing indeed.

The 2008 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Grigio is quite a mix, or both grapes and places, though here again Monterey makes up a solid 50%. To 86% Pinot Grigio are added French Colombard, Semillon, and tiny touches of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Outside of Italy it is a marketing choice to call the wine Pinot Grigio instead of Pinot Gris, but based on style, the name does apply. Cold fermented in tank, with no wood contact and no malolactic fermentation, the result has a spicy, vanilla and fruit compote nose, with pear and peach. Friendly and filling in the mouth, white pear and punchy lemon tickle the palate, with sound minerality rounding the wine out into a smooth finish that leaves essences of candied fruit. A good interplay between concentration and ripeness here.

The 2007 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Syrah has a full Central Coast appellation, 87% Syrah with Petit Verdot, some Merlot and a touch of Petite Sirah. Winemaking was characterized by extended maceration for maximum skin contact, full malolactic fermentation, and a 12 month aging in French oak. This is a good cool climate Syrah, a deep ruby in color, with aromatic notes of dark berries, violet, nutmeg and black pepper. The palate brings excellent concentrated brambly black fruit mixed with sweet oak and solid spice. Balanced at every stage and supple in mouthfeel, the wine finishes by reminding you that yes, it does have tannins, just enough in this case.

Verdict: Nicely done

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food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

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