Mondavi Private Selection pairs well with beef stew.
Mondavi Private Selection pairs well with beef stew.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Central Coast

Cost: $10-12

What: The holidays are over and it’s time to settle in with some wines to warm you up during the cold weather. And if the wallet is a little thinner than it has been you probably are looking for a value wine with dinner.

The Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines are the perfect choice for wine lovers trying to stretch their dollars. The Cab is hearty, robust, bursting with fresh fruit flavors and with just enough complexity to make it fun to drink.

Mondavi makes some great high-end wines that compete on the world stage. But there are people who turn their noses up at the lower end Mondavi wines because they think you can’t possibly make outstanding wine at this price. They are so wrong. All of the winery’s experience with top-end wines, and the economies of scale for the large volume of wine they produce, results in terrific values in the lower tier wines.

A good cab at a fair price.
A good cab at a fair price.

This wine has everything you would look for in a wine at two or three times the price. It’s a beautiful garnet in the glass, with aromas of fresh fruit and some vanilla. The flavors are incredibly complex. There is a lot of red stone fruit on the palate, especially plum and some blackberry, with a smooth oak finish.

I decanted the wine an hour before drinking it, and I could have let it breathe even longer. By the way, this wine has been in my cellar for about a year, once again proving to me that even moderate priced wine can improve with a little cellar time. The current release is the 2011 vintage, and it should be very much like this wine because growing conditions were similar.

After the grapes are gently crushed and destemmed, the juice and skins are fermented in temperature-controlled tanks. At the end of fermentation the wine is kept on the skins another 12 days to soften tannins and develop more complex flavors. All the wine then undergoes malolactic fermentation to enhance roundness and depth. It is then aged 12 months in French and American oak.

The Private Selection wines highlight the Central Coast appellation, a large area in Central California that runs from Santa Barbara to the south end of the San Francisco Bay area.

This wine is 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, 3% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdot, 1% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc. The wine is widely available in wine shops and grocery stores.

Winery: The late Robert Mondavi was a pioneer in the California wine industry. He built the first modern winery in Napa after Prohibition in 1966, and it is still one of the best places to get a winery tour. It should be a required visit on your first visit to Napa.

Mondavi knew the climate and soil in Napa Valley were perfect for growing world-class grapes. He also believed in making wine that would match a gracious lifestyle that included food and art.

As the company grew, Mondavi also built facilities farther south in the Central Coast region to handle the glut of grapes coming from that fertile area.

The Private Selection wines were introduced in 1994, primarily featuring California’s north and central coast grapes at a moderate price. Private Selection varietals include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Meritage, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Coastal Crush Red, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.

The Woodbridge label is the winery’s entry point offering and Robert Mondavi Winery produces the top level wines.

Constellation Brands acquired the winery in 2004.

Hearty beef stew.
Hearty beef stew.

Goes with: Teri and I had this wine with a rich beef stew that includes a bottle of wine in the ingredients. The stew is full of beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, peas and bay leaves. There are a lot of powerful tastes here, so you need a full-bodied wine to stand up to all the flavors.

The Mondavi Private Selection Cab fit the bill. It is rich and bursting with fruit. The complexity made it a great drink with the hearty stew. Every sip seemed to bring out a different flavor from the stew.

The Cab also would be good with standing rib roasts, grilled steak, roast duck, spareribs, lasagna, or flavorful hard cheeses.

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