Mondavi and Pride Trip Report

Some thoughts on the visits to the Robert Mondavi and Pride wineries…

I setup a tour and tasting at both these wineries for a relative of mine who was visiting with his wife. Both are still new to the world of wine, so I thought it would be a good idea to have a day of contrasting examples: commercial vs. ’boutique’, valley floor vs. mountain fruit, old heritage vs. newer. I was also taking the opportunity to finally pay a visit to the Robert Mondavi winery – up until now I’ve somehow managed to miss. (I know, it seems like an egregious affront to not pay homage any earlier to this venerable name in American wine history.)

Robert Mondavi

I went into this visit with assumptions on how it would go, and I was pleasantly surprised and wrong on that. The basic tour and tasting at Mondavi is thorough, enlightening, and very good. Special kudos to the tour guide taking the group through the Guild of Sommeliers Tasting Grid while performing the tasting. While it wasn’t called out specifically, I knew what she was doing, and the manner in which it was presented was unassuming and approachable. Excellent.

The tasting itself was four wines:

  • 2013 Fume Blanc – Light, refreshing, crisp. Very faint yellow hue. Citrus and lemon curd. Long finish. 3/5, despite the steep price of $40.
  • 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay – Unoaked! Hallelujah! Apple, melon, honey. Creamy mouthfeel. Surprisingly cheaper than the Fume Blanc, $35. 3/5
  • 2012 Pinot Noir Reserve Carneros – Admittedly not a favorite AVA of mine when it comes to pinot noir, and this wine hit all of the descriptors for it. Baking spices, black cherry. In my opinion, over extracted, but that’s the profile for this region according to my palate. If you like Carneros pinot, you’ll like this. $65, 3/5
  • 2011 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – This evoked the struggle the 2011 vintage was for Napa. Green bell pepper right off on the nose, but not in a bad way. And here is where I think Robert Mondavi pulled a hat trick and enlightened people at the same time: the tour guide had everyone try the wine, and then brought out a small bruschetta for the pairing. The result was what I love to see – a sudden understanding of what wine is. The food and wine complimented each other perfectly. Capped off a great experience at one of the historic wineries. $sold out, 3/5.

Pride Mountain Winery

I setup the reserved Summit Tasting experience because we happen to be going on a weekday, and this is the only way you can try the higher-end Pride wines usually. The personal tour is always excellent, and Pride really has the best staff around. One thing of note – the Pride Claret is currently out of production for a couple of years due to some of the vineyards being replanted.

No detailed notes from this tasting, but suffice to say each one of the wines knocked it out of the park. 4/5’s all around. I know I’m partial to Pride, I’ve been on the list for years now and own several cases. In fact, at the time of this writing they are the largest producer in my cellar, coming in at close to 19% – or 37 bottles. I suppose it’s time to start opening a few of those…

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