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Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (half-bottle) 1998

Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California
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Winemaker Notes

Rich layers of cassis, boysenberry and black cherry slowly unfold in our Robert Mondavi 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Intriguing nuances of spice, cedar forest and licorice heighten the wines complexity. The excellent structure, with broad, muscular tannins and a long, velvety finish, promises even greater development with bottle aging for 15 or more years.

Our Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is made from several highly acclaimed Napa Valley vineyards, primarily from the Oakville District, that we have chosen as having the most expressive fruit character and finest balance of the vintage. Extended maceration, a long malolactic fermentation and aging in new French oak barrels, captured and enhanced the wines expression of vineyard terroir.

In Napa Valley, as throughout California, 1998 was an unusual year for weather. El Niño gave us a growing season punctuated with extremes ― twice the normal rainfall, 18 days of frost, cold weather at bloom and record heat spells. Yields for some varieties were down because of the wet weather during bloom and berry set. A period of excessive summer heat caused sunburn in some vineyards, necessitating thinning to maintain high quality. But then, as harvest approached, the weather improved, and we had near perfect mild, sunny days for ripening. The small, loose clusters had sufficient "hang time" on the vines to create vibrant flavors and natural balance in the wines. Overall, the 1998 harvest, one of the latest of the decade, turned out to be of excellent quality.

Our 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve captures the personality of Napa Valley's celebrated Oakville District with beautifully articulated flavors of berries, cassis and spice. We selected 70% of the blend from the Oakville District with 40% harvested from Robert Mondavi's historic To Kalon Estate Vineyard. This vineyard has been continually planted to grapes for over 130 years and, for more than 50 years, it has been the backbone of Robert Mondavis finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines. To Kalon Vineyard and the neighboring vineyards selected for this wine, are on the Oakville bench where low-fertility, well-drained soils allow deep rooting and the development of complex flavors in the grapes. To enhance the ripe berry complexity of the wine, and complement the Oakville District fruit, we harvested 15% of the grapes from the Stags Leap District, 10% from the Carneros District, and 5% from a vineyard in west Napa Valley. We hand-harvested the grapes at an average sugar level of 24.6 Brix with 0.67% acid and 3.69 pH.

Critical Acclaim

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Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi

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Robert Mondavi, Napa Valley, California
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Robert Mondavi established his namesake winery in 1966 with a vision to create Napa Valley wines that would stand in the company of the world's finest. He chose To Kalon Vineyard in the heart of the Napa Valley as the home for Robert Mondavi Winery. This first-growth vineyard, located in Oakville, California, is renowned for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world, as well as for its Sauvignon Blanc grapes, from which Mr. Mondavi crafted his signature wine, Fumé Blanc.

Along with To Kalon Vineyard, Robert Mondavi Winery sources grapes from some of Napa Valley's finest vineyards, including Stag's Leap (Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc) and Carneros (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay).

Mr. Mondavi believed that wines should reflect their origins, that they are the product of the soil, the climate, and the careful stewardship of those precious resources. He also believed in combining the newest techniques and technology with time-honored winemaking traditions.

The Robert Mondavi winemaking and vineyard teams are proud to carry on their founder's mandate to always strive higher, to pursue Robert Mondavi's goal of excellence with the same passion and innovative spirit, moving forward with programs that break barriers and open new frontiers.

Leading this initiative is Geneviève Janssens, Director of Winemaking. Geneviève, whose relationship with the winery began in 1978, was selected Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2010.

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

Cabernet Sauvignon

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A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes referred to as the “king” of red grapes. It can be somewhat unapproachable early in its youth but has the potential to age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more at its best. Small berries and tough skins provide its trademark firm tannic grip, while high acidity helps to keep the wine fresh for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region (and in St-Emillion and Pomerol, where it plays a supporting role to Merlot). The top Médoc producers use Cabernet Sauvignon for their wine’s backbone, blending it with Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot. On its own, Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed great success throughout the world, particularly in the Napa Valley, and is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after “cult” wines.

In the Glass

High in color, tannin, and extract, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, currant, spice, and tobacco. In Bordeaux and elsewhere in the Old World you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it's typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California and Australia, you can typically expect more ripe fruit flavors upfront.

Perfect Pairings

Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb, and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.

Sommelier Secrets

Despite the modern importance and ubiquity of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is actually a relatively young variety. In 1997, DNA revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.

SWS86566_1998 Item# 55237