I honestly couldn’t think of a better brand to momentarily get me out of my self-imposed semi-hiatus than Robert Mondavi. Beyond being a label that’s close to my heart – reminding me of many memorable wine dinners with family and friends all over California – it’s iconic in terms of its place in history as one of the premier modernizing wineries of the region.
With a name that is synonymous to innovation, it didn’t come as a surprise to me that they pushed the envelope even further with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Spirits Barrel-Aged Collection.
The principle of creating the wines was simple but brilliant: Age wines made from quality grapes sourced from regions with “enviable” grape growing conditions, up and down California’s Central Coast and Lodi… then age a portion of them for 3-10 months in barrels typically used for spirits – specifically Rye, Rum, and Bourbon – bringing a “twist of something modern” to the wines’ “familiar depth and substance.”
“We are really proud of the latest wines, these wines are crafted to be true reflections of their origins but with a unique barrel-aged twist. They are a modern take on world-class Californian wines,” said Glen Caughell, Winemaker at Robert Mondavi Private Selection. “Our philosophy at Robert Mondavi Private Selection has always been centered around innovation – passed on from our founding winemaker Robert Mondavi’s trailblazing legacy and ingenuity. We are thrilled to be able to launch this boundary kicking innovation – a perfect balance of premium California coastal fruit and barrel complexity to produce cleverly structured and expressive wines.”
Armed with the three wines, my wine glasses, and the nifty kits we were provided with, we were treated to a delicious online tasting led by Caughell himself.
2018 Rye Barrel-Aged Red Blend
The wine has a portion which has been aged in Rye barrels for 10 months. The tasting notes say that it’s a deep, rich ruby colored wine with ripe aromas of boysenberry and black cherry fruit, nutmeg, cinnamon, and gingerbread spice, with hints of tobacco and barley malt.
We were told to open the bottles 20 minutes prior to the event. For me, it made the wine open just enough to exhibit some of its red fruit characteristics… but I got distracted by the acidity.
As we got to the topic of pairing the wine with food, however, Caughell recommended burgers to pair with it. Incidentally, my husband and I ordered some for lunch (which was about an hour and a half after opening the bottle). I then decided to let the wine breathe a bit more and see whether his recommendation works during the meal – and if the wine would open more.
Sidenote: While Caughell and I agreed on In-N-Out being perfect (I mean, California wine should go better with California burgers IMHO), we could only get our hands on a Brother’s Burger Double Cheeseburger.
Anyway, it worked. The acidity tapered off enough to finally show its deeper tobacco notes but stayed enough to cut through the grease of the burger. The boysenberry flavors became more pleasant, too. I could also imagine pairing it with holiday ham because I could see the Christmas spices of the wine adding a festive twist to our noche buena staple.
2019 Rum Barrel-Aged Merlot
Incorporating wine that is Rum barrel-aged for 10 months, it had – according to the tasting notes – sweet aromas of blackstrap molasses (something I’ve admittedly never encountered prior to the event), vanilla, mocha, cocoa powder, maple, tobacco leaf, and spiced rum cake. The notes also say that it has ripe concentrated flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, caramel, brown sugar, baking spice, and sweet oak.
Now, I’m not too sure if the Rum barrel-ageing contributed to the unusual sweetness of the Merlot (it’s sweeter than what I’m used to with the varietal), or if it was the intended style of the winery (a friend and fellow wino commented on my IG post that he generally finds Mondavi a little on the sweeter side – I personally don’t typically find that to be the case). Nevertheless, the sweetness wasn’t off-putting – in fact, I found that it contributed to making it an easy-drinking, stand-alone wine.
Here’s the interesting bit, however: I came back to the wine 4 days after I opened it and found that not only did it develop beautifully, but it also went well with my friend’s slow-cooked adobo.
2019 Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cabernet Sauvignon
I admit that California wines for me often mean gorgeous Cabernet Sauvignon… After all, the region is legendary for it. The incorporation of wines aged for 20 months in Bourbon barrels added a breathtaking complexity to this bottle, and it easily became my favorite of the bunch. It’s a hefty wine with rich, complex flavors of black cherries, blackberries, vanilla, herbs, and toasted oak… Theoretically simple on paper, but amazingly complex on the palate.
Unlike the first two wines (maybe because it was the last wine we tried during the event?), it didn’t take too long to open and quickly skyrocketed up there as my favorite wine from the bunch (literally just before I posted it on our IG at 12:03pm). I could just as easily imagine having it with a beautifully grilled steak (my husband’s specialty), or on its own.
The Robert Mondavi Private Selection range is available now at select leading supermarkets and online selling platforms. For more information about Robert Mondavi Private Selection, please visit www.robertmondaviprivateselection.com.
Special thanks to Mr. Eric Kahn of Future Trade Inc. for supporting Smile Train Philippines in conjunction with this activity.