Mondavi: Napa’s First Family of Wine Reunites at Thanksgiving

As we sit down to the Thanksgiving table today with our families, I want to share a new story of a family near and dear to all wine lovers, the Mondavis of Napa Valley.

It’s a lot to be thankful for: The 99th birthday of Peter Mondavi, Sr., the brother of Robert, who would have been 100 this past June.  The opening of the beautifully-renovated historic redwood cellar at Charles Krug, the original Mondavi family Napa winery. A new winery–Tim Mondavi’s showstopper Continuum project with his sister Marcia Mondavi Borger, and Robert’s widow Margrit Mondavi.

As you might imagine, each line of this new story is inked in world-class Cabernets, poured throughout a special weekend shared by these legends and their equally-famous contemporaries (Zelma Long, Molly Chappelet, Warren Winiarski, to name a few), and their children and grandchildren.  First there was the Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1974–the last wine that Robert’s sons Michael and Tim made together.  It was served from a rare double-magnum, and stellar–still loads of fruit and dark cherry density, with sweet tobacco, sweet spices, and rich glycerin-y, meaty notes.  I also tasted the 1965 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon–the last wine that brothers Peter and Robert made together before Bob set out on his own to launch the Robert Mondavi winery.  It, too was still exciting to behold, rich with mushroom, duck stock and potpourri notes, and utterly sleek-textured. Watch my short video for a special moment in time with Michael and these wines.

The young wines served – Continuum, and M by Michael Mondavi – represent new Napa frontiers for Tim and Michael, for whom a new chapter has been renewing.  Succeeding their dad Robert at his eponymous winery led to a wrenching ride to sort out leadership and winemaking style. Then the company was taken public, turning the name Robert Mondavi into a corporate asset, overseen by corporate decision-makers with a fiduciary duty to show quarterly earnings growth rather than the vision of  a man like Bob.

As for the Napa frontiers, Tim’s Continuum project is on the legendary Pritchard Hill.  It shows incredible density, detail, structure, and a dark and tarry salinity that practically vibrates in the finish.  Michael’s M fruit comes from the far-flung and historic Atlas Peak sub-district of Napa Valley.  It is luscious with red licorice, kirsch, sweet spices, and a texture that cloaks the palate in velvet. My short video from the gathering at Michael’s home in the heart of the Napa Valley is a precious moment, that I hope you will savor as much as I did.

The generous hospitality shown by these reunited families throughout the weekend was typical of their long history of embodying Napa Valley’s warm and deeply authentic welcome to any who wish to come and share and behold this magical place.  Thanks to brothers Peter and Marc Mondavi, that welcome is within reach to all visitors, in the newly-renovated redwood cellar of historic Charles Krug winery.  That old cellar is where Italian emigres Rosa and Cesare Mondavi raised their boys Peter and Michael, and helped give birth to the Napa that would become legendary in the wine world.

May your Thanksgiving be blessed by family, memories, renewal, delicious food and wine, and a bright look toward a future filled with love and harmony.

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