Tasting Report: 2006 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Monday, April 5, 2010

On the cover of Wine Spectator’s issue on 2006 Napa Cabernet Sauvignons were 3 wines: The 2006 Kathryn Hall, a 2006 Schrader, and the 2006 Robert Mondavi Reserve.  I thought the Hall was amazing (as I wrote here) and the 2006 Schrader was a wine I wrote about as being a $125 value wine.

I recently had a chance to sit down and try the 2006 Mondavi Reserve Cab alongside two other vintages of the Mondavi Resreve Cab: 1994 and 1999.  It provided a fascinating opportunity to try a wine of consistent quality across a number of years to assess what happens to Napa Cab as it ages.

I met up with a couple of good friends at West On Centre in West Roxbury, MA last Tuesday night to try these wines along with food.  The restaurant has a Bring Your Own Wine night every Tuesday night I highly recommend for wine enthusiasts.  Make a reservation and ask for Lawrence as your server.  The lamb chops were delicious.

The '94 seems to be substantially more highly regarded than the '99 in terms of retail/auction prices and CellarTracker reviews.  I thought both were outstanding and unique.

The 2006 Mondavi is composed of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc.  91% of the grapes are from the famous To Kalon Vineyard.  The wine aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak barrels.

Here are my notes on all the wines:

1994 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
13.5% Alcohol

Red/brownish in color.  Spice on the nose along with some menthol.  An exceptionally smooth wine.  Hardly any tannic bite to speak of, which depending on what you’re looking for could be a good thing or bad.  Long, heartwarming finish.  Delicious aftertaste.  This wine is subtle greatness.

WWP: 92/100 Outstanding

1999 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
14.1% Alcohol

Brighter and more similar to younger Napa Cab than the ’94.  Less brown in color than the ’94- this one was more ruby-red.  Enjoyed the grippy tannins in this wine, which were surprisingly present after 11 years.  Complex nose.  Surprisingly earthy.

WWP: 90/100 Outstanding

2006 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
15.5% Alcohol

Wow.  Beautiful stuff.  Dark purple in color with classic Cab aromas of black currant and blackberry.  Full of delicious flavor.  Firm, chalky tannins.  Stunningly good and surprisingly different than the prior wines.  Delicious wine.  One of the best Napa Cabs I’ve ever had.

WWP: 97/100 Classic


As we were trying these wines I was thinking about the following story lines:
  • Alcohol levels.  The upward trend in alcohol levels in this wine over the years (13.5%/14.1%/15.5%).  Did this wine drive the trend?  Or follow it?
  • Aging.  What does this tasting tell me about aging Napa Cabs for my palate?
  • Branding.  Would you rather have a wine like this that’s a top offering from a famous high production brand -or- a wine that’s at the entry level of a smaller producer?  Does the answer change depending on the occasion?
I'd like to come back and talk more about each of these subjects in future blog entries. 

The 2006 was a sample for review.

Question of the Day: What do you think of Mondavi's Reserve Cab?


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