Carlo Mondavi is enjoying a bit of lunch, before heading out for some appointments among clients who love the wine he and his father Tim Mondavi have made each year since 2005.
It is called Continuum, for ample reasons, not the least of which is Carlo’s grandfather was Robert Mondavi, whose influence reaches far and wide, but who still exerts a keen influence on what his successors do. As Carlo puts it, “We are simply pursuing the same excellence in winemaking that my grandfather insisted on.”
As new vines begin to mature and produce fruit, the first few years it is used to make a second label, called Novicium, itself a fresh, fruity, vibrant expression of what the young estate vines can do. Continuum itself is highly sought after, produced in quantities often under 3,000 cases per year. The latest vintages are made from 100 per cent estate fruit, two contiguous vineyards Tim Mondavi purchased, located up on Pritchard Hill, overlooking Oakville.
Carlo enjoys his role in the family business, selling a wine he says “my dad has been thrilled about from day one. It is for us about being focussed, staying true to the idea that my grandfather always insisted on; Napa can produce red wines that deserve to be at the same table as any of the world’s best.”
Tasting the 2011 with Carlo, it is impossible to argue against that point. The wine is not a candy cane wine, like some of the valley’s juggernaut “cult” wines tend to be. Rather, it is an elegant, expressive, somewhat brooding but very well structured wine, that clearly belies Tim Mondavi’s belief that cabernet franc can reach great heights in his part of the world. Cabernet franc is taking a more prominent place alongside the cabernet sauvignon in the blend, which is derived from 36 distinct, and separately vinified, vineyard blocks on Pritchard Hill. “It just tastes fabulous,” says Carlo, as he departs for his next appointment. Point taken.