Sep 18th, 2012 by Alana
(Above: To mark the start of the 2012 harvest season, Father Ramon Pons, bilingual Associate Pastor at St. John the Baptist in Napa, blessed the first truckload of grapes to come into Mondavi winery yesterday morning—a tradition imagined by Robert Mondavi in 1966. The blessing was followed by a toast from Margrit Mondavi and a few words from director of winemaking Genevieve Janssens. Many winery employees joined invited guests for a hearty Mexican lunch.)
Yesterday I attended the blessing of the grapes at Robert Mondavi in Napa. It is a tradition that began in 1966. The gracious artist, Robert’s widow, Margrit Mondavi spoke in the ToKalon cellar…”we always remember Robert Mondavi, and on his cloud, I’m sure he’s winking…” then semi-retired employee and singer Bob “Bobby” Tyson sang America the Beautiful. and Genevieve Janssens, Director of Winemaking spoke. When Margrit introduced Father Pons she misspoke when introducing his church and said, “oh gosh, now I’m sure to be going to hell.” Born in 1926, she’s an absolute delight and had the crowd in stitches. (NEWSFLASH: her tell-all memoir was just released.) I can not wait to read it.
I tasted in the To Kalon Room (Insider Tip: highly recommend a visit in here, it’s where the reserve and spotlight small lot wines are poured. There is a reservation form on the website but if you decide at the last moment, I recommend just coming in; it wasn’t crowded mid-week, even during harvest.) I had a great time with Janie (a 16-yr pro at Mondavi) and Chris (an engaging 30-something ex-teacher turned novelist and wine collector moonlighting as a wine educator). Every wine I tasted was truly beautiful and well-made. My favorites were:
- A beautiful Unoaked Chardonnay with refreshing tartness (flavorful yet perfectly balanced) available only in the tasting room ($34) (vintage 2010)
- 2010 Fume Blanc Reserve, very dry from 1968 vineyards. ($40) Only 1100 cases.
- All of the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignons from 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008 were delightful to taste with the 2002 being surprisingly bold still and the 2008 notably different since it is from a different vineyard (Stags Leap) and is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
- My favorite was the 2010 Pinot Noir Reserve, an absolutely gorgeous wine that I will not soon forget. One of the best Pinot Noirs I’ve enjoyed from Carneros ever. ($60)