(Note: Robert Mondavi’s Autobiography entitled Harvests of Joy: How the Good Life Became Great Business – Paperbackis available on Amazon.com) The Mercury News printed a nice obituary on Robert Mondavi this morning, which can be found here. The article highlights how he got into the wine business, his innovation using tempurature controlled stainless steel tanks for fermentation and French Oak barrels for aging (an uncommon practice at the time for California wines), and his recent work developing Copia in Napa Valley. It also lists some of the wineries he was involved with, including Arrowood Vineyards in Sonoma, Opus One in Oakville, Byron Vineyard in Santa Barbara, and Continuum launched recently by his children. His namesake winery was sold to Constellation brands in 2004 and they recently introduced Solaire, a reasonably priced wine that bares his name on the label. Winexpression was sent a press sample of the two wines they currently produce, and following is my review.
It goes without saying that when putting your name on a bottle of wine, you want that name to reflect well on you. I’m pretty sure that Robert Mondavi wouldn’t allow a company to simply plaster his name on a product that he wouldn’t be proud of. Even though Constellation is a huge brand, they hit a home run with their latest venture that bares the Mondavi name. Solaire is crafted by Rick Boyer and aims to showcase the quality of grapes coming out of California’s Central Coast and the results are a pleasant surprise. Even more surprising is the price point that both of these wines come in at. I’ve been recommending both to close friends for a few days now, hopefully they can get a head start finding them at their local retailer before the rest of the world catches on.
2006 Solaire Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, California
Rating: A (94 – 96 pts)
Notes: Just in time for summer! This wine possesses a rich aroma of vanilla, a touch of Oak, and hints of citrus and creme, that are not overdone on the palate. Think Crème brûlée without the weight, finished by a medium bodied palate that is fresh and crisp. It finishes beautifully and leaves you wanting more. I’ve tasted Chardonnays that weren’t this good that sell for twice the price. This is a fantastic value.
2005 Solaire Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, CA
Score: A- (92 – 94pts)
Notes: Another fantastic effort, I don’t think I’ve tasted a Cabernet from Paso at this price that was this good. It is gorgeous to look at, a rich and deep purple, that reveals loads of Black Cherry, Blueberry, and other black fruits on the nose. The mouthfeel is complex and full, and contains hints of leather, oak, and Cassis, with the dominate flavors of Cherry and Blueberry carried over from the nose. The finish is round, and not overly tannic, and lasts for at least 30 seconds. This is a great food friendly wine and a fantastic value that I’d compare to wines that sell for $50.