Wine: Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Grapes: Cabernet sauvignon (83 percent), merlot (12 percent), cabernet franc (4 percent), syrah (1 percent)
Region: Napa Valley, Calif.
Availability: all wine retailers, chain stores
In the glass: Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep crimson-red color with an opaque blood-red core going out into a fine pinkish rim definition with high viscosity.
On the nose: This wine just exudes classic Napa Valley cabernet with oodles of black currants and leaves, creme de cassis, blackberry liqueur, lead pencil, peppers, vanilla bean stalk and hints of oak, violet pastilles and fruit-driven minerals.
On the palate: This is a classically performing wine with concentrated yet elegant black currant crush, marionberries and sloe fruit with underlying touches of sweet licorice root, black cherries and a nicely balanced midpalate with velvety soft tannins and a lovely classic finish that lingers for 20 seconds.
Odds and ends: I am dedicating this week’s column to one of the legends of the wine world: Robert Mondavi. Had he still been with us, he would have turned 100 years old this week, but sadly he passed at the age of 94. He single-handedly was responsible for the rise of California — and in particular, Napa Valley — to the fore of the wine-producing world. He started out fairly late, forming the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley in 1966, at a time when not too many wineries were in operation there. Millions of people have visited what is actually the most visited winery in the world today. When Mondavi wanted to sell some Napa-grown sauvignon blanc, he was told that it would be impossible, so he created the fume blanc, which became an iconic wine from California and a best-seller worldwide. Such were the ways of this gentle and affable man I had the great pleasure of knowing as a mentor. Although his sons, Michael and Tim, continue in the wine business, the original family winery was sold to the conglomerate Constellation years ago. In any case, Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon normally retails for more than $25, but I found it on a special at Lee’s for just $15.99 and it is widely available. Drink it now through 2020 as it ages beautifully, and enjoy it with a classic filet mignon with bearnaise sauce.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.