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To Kalon Fruit on the Cheap: The 2008 Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet

Monday, August 29, 2011

We've got lots of branches down in the yard and we lost power for a couple hours as Hurricane Irene swept through New England yesterday. The Wellesley Municipal Light Plant quickly restored power. They're the best in the country - I'm 99+ points on them.

Although there was some significant damage in other areas it looks like the hurricane wasn't as devastating as some feared it might be. I'm grateful for that and hope you and your family are safe.

It's been a few months since Wine Spectator dropped a big 94 point rating on the 2008 Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet. With a $45 release price and relative high 7,700 case production this wine becomes one to seek out - especially since discounters typically offer it for less than $35.

The meat of the Robert Mondavi line-up consists of the Napa Valley Wines (~$24), District Wines (~$45), and the Reserve Wines ($135). I last checked in with the Oakville bottling in the 2005 vintage. I caught a case of it on what I thought was a really good price - around $25/bottle. I slowly made my way through that case, enjoying a bottle once a month. It was so enjoyable and consistent. Outstanding Napa Cab every time at a relatively affordable price point..

Spectator didn't rate the '05 Oakville and neither did The Wine Advocate. Advocate rated the '08 Oakville just 89+ points so this is a wine Spectator really liked and Advocate thought was so-so. Some have suggested this wine as a candidate for Wine Spectator's wine of the year. I think the rating is a little low to take the top spot (they seem to go for wines rated 95 or better) but I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the Top 10. We shall see.

Although the '08 Oakville has been out for while I haven't seen it in Massachusetts yet. The Costco in Waltham still has the '07 for $29.99. I get the feeling the distributor may be trying to clear out the '07s before releasing the '08s. I spotted the '08 for $39.99 in New Hampshire. Not the greatest price in the world but I thought it would be interesting to get a handle on whether it was worth seeking out more.

I opened the bottle the same night I bought it. Is it one to back the truck up for? Not exactly, but it is made from 93% To Kalon fruit (pronounced "tow-kuh-lawn" - a famous vineyard that is 550 acres of Mondavi and 89 acres Beckstoffer which produces some of the most sought after wines in America). I'd recommend checking out a bottle or two if you're a fan of big Napa Cabs. This one is huge.

2008 Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
15.5% Alcohol
7,700 Cases Produced
$45 Release Price ($32-$40 street price)

A bold Napa Cab of great concentration and density that enters the room with a confident swagger. Complex aromas and flavors of rich blackberries, sweet spice, plums, and vanilla beans. A little overpowering at points (15.5% alcohol) but with adequate aeration this comes together nicely. Would like to check in again in a year but for now I'd be in for 1-3 bottles of this at a target price of $30-$33.

92/100 WWP: Outstanding

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I spotted a bottle of the more affordable '08 Napa Valley bottling so I bought it to see if there was an uptick in its quality as well. There's not. It's just as good as it always is - a solid 88-90 point Napa Cab you can find anywhere - usually at a very favorable price point:

2008 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
15.0% Alcohol
93,000 Cases Produced
$28 Release Price ($18.39 at Costco)

Comes off a bit brash at first but with some time it settles down and becomes quite enjoyable. Black currant, plum, acidity, tannins - all the classic Napa markers are here. Hard to imagine someone feeling shorted with this one south of $20. 15.0% alcohol and it shows early on.

89/100 WWP: Very Good

Sometimes, it doesn't take a lot of research to find outstanding wines at reasonable price points. The Robert Mondavi wines present tremendous value year in and year out. For example the 2006 Reserve Cab was one of the best wines I've ever tasted and can be had for around $80 if you shop around.

Question of the Day: Have you checked in on Robert Mondavi Cab lately? What do you think?

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