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Nathan Smyth

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Tim Mondavi 1, Critics 0

by Nathan Smyth » Sat Sep 22, 2007 9:58 pm

1995 Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Bright, delicate, light on its feet, friendly, cheerful, almost playful - certainly optimistic.

It's even got complexity - some texture, some layering, and some nuance.

[I can count on the fingers of one hand the California wines I've had in my life which showed any complexity whatsoever, and this one is at the very head of the class.]

I've had it three times now, in big tastings, opposite famous labels, with huge scores from the critics, and every time it has been the clear winner, with no other wine even close to it.

What sets apart the 1995 Reserve is its acidity - it's a clean, cutting, precise wine, vibrant, and frankly alive - you could almost call it a light in the darkness - heck, it is a light in the darkness - as opposed to most older California Cabernets, which show an alarming tendency to reek of foul, rotting carrion [being the carcass of spoilt coconut juice when it finally relinquishes the ghost].

I don't know whether this wine dates from Tim Mondavi's much-maligned "Italian" phase, but if it does, then Tim was right, and all of his critics were wrong.

Whatever Mondavi did that year - early harvest of green fruit, fermentation on stems, concrete vats, fining, filtration, even acidulation - they need to bottle up that recipe and never forget it.

A towering, monumental achievement in California winemaking, and a style which all California Cabernet vintners should strive to emulate.
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Victor de la Serna

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Re: Tim Mondavi 1, Critics 0

by Victor de la Serna » Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:34 pm

I've only heard of a "Bordeaux wannabe" phase, which was decried by such critics as Parker and Laube, as they charged that Mondavi had suddenly begun producing emaciated, hollow wines. This started around 1998. What's this "Italian" phase?
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Nathan Smyth

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Re: Tim Mondavi 1, Critics 0

by Nathan Smyth » Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:36 pm

What's this "Italian" phase?

I haven't had subscriptions to the WS or the WA in ages, but there are a few excerpts available around the web.

Laube's piece, "A Question Of Style At Mondavi", was in the July 31, 2001 issue of the WS.

Apparently Parker's piece was in the December 23, 2000 issue of the WA.

RANTINGS_3
weimax.com

James Laube: "Since getting involved with Mondavi's Tuscan wine projects, Tim's stated fascination has been with creating what he calls bright, cleansing wines. This is bothersome because too many of the efforts are just that -- tart and angular, with little depth or dimension."

The myth of Robert Parker
Russ Bridenbaugh
Wines & Vines
June, 2001
findarticles.com

...As Langewiesche points out, Parker laid the basis for his philosophy of wine in issue #2 of his newsletter, criticizing California wineries for bland, sterile and manipulated wines. (He recently did an about face and accused the Robert Mondavi winery of the same sins a little over a year after the Decanter interview, in which he listed winemaker Tim Mondavi as one of the "world's top winemakers." Contradiction?)

If Parker's tastes can be summed up in a sentence, it would be with words (as from a typical description in the "Advocate") "impressive," "opulent," "complex," "muscular," "harmonious," " expansive" and "full-bodied." Compare that to how he described Mondavi's wines: "...increasingly light and to my way of thinking, indifferent, innocuous wines that err on the side of intellectual vapidness..." ("Wine Advocate" #132, 12-23-00)....

Land is Mondavi's mantra
Gerald D. Boyd
Wednesday, April 25, 2001
sfgate.com

The Winemaker Tim Mondavi
-- AGE: 49
-- WINERY: Robert Mondavi Winery
-- FAVORITE WINE: "I love Sangiovese, especially with Italian foods and fresh vegetables."

Italy is also mentioned here and here, among other places.

By the way, apparently the Mondavis replaced all their equipment in the late 1990's - it was something they called the "To Kalon Project" [e.g. here, here, and here - key words seem to be "gravity" and "oak fermenters"] - so I don't know whether Constellation even has the facilities to reproduce the techniques which were used back in 1995.

PS: There is also the very remote possiblity that the juice in this recent library release of the 1995 is not the same as the juice which was originally released about a decade ago.

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