Wine Review: 2012 Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc, Oakville

There is no denying that I went into this wine review biased. The wine that we were drinking on Saturday afternoon (owing to the fact that Rachel is in South Korea) was and will remain one of my all time favorites. For me there is no better way to spend a one of the last sunny days of summer than with a glass of fumé blanc and a good book.

So, let’s start with the history, which I have courtesy of Rachel and her new Napa book. This wine comes from Robert Mondavi, a member of the Mondavi dynasty that put Napa on the map, but what came before this vineyard is family intrigue, lawsuits, excommunication and then millions of dollars. So pretty much your standard soap storyline.

Before I go into too much detail, and ruin the ending of the story, I wanted to let you all know that at some point the 2 passions of these bloggers will be combining in posts on books about wine, so if you don’t want to know the ending maybe skip the next couple of paragraphs.

So, the Mondavi’s came over to the US from Italy, Cesare Mondavi started a vineyard that had moderate success, a bulk wine producer with no wines of note, and nothing sold under their own name. When he died he left his estate to his children, Peter (the winemaker), Robert (the businessman) and a few others. Robert’s skills in marketing started to pay dividends and the Mondavi’s became more and more renowned for their wine. But then there was a falling out. Peter tried to remove Robert from the business and to cut him out of the family.

After numerous lawsuits, Robert family received settlements that allowed him to start his own vineyards. He employed a winemaker and picked-up the work that he had been doing previously. Now say ‘Mondavi’ to almost anyone who drinks wine, or has a pulse, and you will see a flicker of recognition. The Napa tourist trade, and local winemakers for that matter, has much to be grateful to Robert Mondavi for.

As do we, for he created this wine! Robert Mondavi went to Pouilly-Fumé, in the Loire, and tasted the wine with the gunflint aromas (which come naturally to the wines, see our posts about them here) and wanted to recreate that in America. Lacking the requisite terroir, he instead aged the sauvignon blanc in smoked barrels thereby achieving a similar result.

The wine smells like a melon (and if you have ever smelled melons in a French hypermarché then you will know the sense immediately) but there are also hints of clementine, citrus and vanilla. Throw in some thyme and green bell pepper and you pretty much have to whole bouquet.

On the palate there is melon, though less, the citrus is still there, as well as a few green grapes. To me it tastes a little like champagne without the bubbles, not flat champagne that has been left out, but good bubbleless champagne! The acid is there, as you would expect, but it is tempered by the aging process.

As I said at the beginning this is one of my favorites so it’s getting a ‘Squee…’ from me. For an unbiased opinion, Rachel suggested that it would be a ‘I’ll Take Half A Case’ mainly because it isn’t quite to her taste (which works out for me!)

We got this wine from a wine club membership, which Rachel threatens to leave on a fairly regular basis, and yet the wines keep coming. But you could probably find it at a good wine store, be warned though, it’s not cheap. Also, don’t age this, it’s for drinking now, hours after purchase preferably!

You’ll like this if you like Sauvignon Blanc, Unoaked Chardonnay, Chablis.