Robert Mondavi Winery Oakville Fume Blanc, 2011

Cost: $31-33

What: To celebrate what would have been Robert Mondavi’s 100th birthday on June 18th, the Robert Mondavi Winery has issued two special wines from his favorite Napa District: Oakville.

The Fume Blanc is important because Mondavi created the term in the 1960s to differentiate his Sauvignon Blanc from the typical sweet, simple California wines of that era. He wanted to make an elegant, complex dry wine in the style of the great Loire Valley wines in France.

He was particularly fond of a Pouilly-Fume wine he tasted, so he called his wine Fume Blanc. The wine was a hit and now there are many California Fume Blancs. The name usually means the wine has a subtle elegance while many other California Sauvignon Blancs offer a ripeness found in the Bordeaux style.

Robert Mondavi Oakville Fume Blanc.
Robert Mondavi Oakville Fume Blanc.

This latest wine is everything you could hope for in a Sauvignon Blanc: crisp, dry, balanced with a silky mouthfeel and long, lingering finish. The aroma bursts out of the glass, filling the room when you pour, with hints of melon, citrus and cinnamon. The flavors are citrus, pineapple and hints of lime.

It is more substantial, more subtle and more elegant than Mondavi’s regular Fume Blanc, which sells for about $10 less.

All the grapes come from the renowned To Kalon vineyard, which surrounds Robert Mondavi Winery in the geographical heart of Napa Valley. To Kalon means highest beauty in Greek, and grapes from the vineyard are among the most sought after in Napa.

The wine is 91 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 9 percent Semillon. To produce richness and complexity, 90 percent of the wine is fermented in 60-gallon French oak barrels. The rest was cool fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve lively fruit flavors. All the wine was barrel aged sur lie (on the yeast) for nine months. This helped develop a creamy texture.

Serve it well chilled.

Happy Birthday, Robert Mondavi! A world of wine lovers is grateful for your vision and your faith in the quality of Napa Valley wines.

Winery: Robert Mondavi led the revolution in the wine world when he insisted top quality wines could be produced in the Napa Valley. His ultra modern winery built in the mission style 1966 was a bet that the Napa Valley would produce some of the finest wine in the world.

Like many other wineries Mondavi practices natural farming and is a leader in environmental responsibility. Environmentally friendly practices include conserving soils and water, managing pests and recycling water and materials.

Robert Mondavi knew that great wines always begin in the vineyard and he carefully sought out some of the best growing regions in Napa. That allowed him to make great wine at higher prices while still mass producing quality wine at lower prices.

Though the family later faced many internal fights and eventual breakup of the company, the Oakville vineyards have remained the heart of the Mondavi empire.

The company produces wines at many different price points. The Oakville Fume Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon are among his best. The Cab is a classic powerful Cabernet Sauvignon, with blackberry, cherry and cassis flavors


Goes with: My wife Teri and I had this wine with marinated grilled shrimp, wild rice and cut up veggies. I enjoyed sipping the wine while I marinated the shrimp in orange, lemon and lime juices, mixed with grated ginger, soy sauce and brown sugar.

But the real thrill came when I had the wine with the shrimp. It was delicious, as the citrus of the wine matched the citrus of the shrimp. Teri is not overly fond of Sauvignon Blanc, but even she said it was a terrific wine.

Robert Mondavi loved Oakville and the iconic Oakville Grocery so I dug out my treasured Oakville Grocery glass for his wine. I have been stopped at Oakville Grocery for 30 years whenever I visit Napa.

It doesn’t look like much from the road, but inside it is jammed with delicious food, drinks, desserts and more gadgets than you could ever use. Their deli makes mouth-watering sandwiches on all kinds of fresh bread. It’s a perfect spot to pick up a picnic lunch or to buy gifts for folks at home. They also have a wide selection of local wine.

I would serve this wine with seafood in a cream sauce, roast chicken and most fish or shellfish on the grill.

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