Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot California 2015 Review

A quick video today of this Robert Mondavi Private Reserve California Merlot 2015 review, plus some quick stories on Robert Mondavi the man, who built the brand before that was a thing.


Video Transcription:

Robert Mondavi Private Selection California Merlot Front LabelHi guys. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I’m joined today by a bottle of, I’ll hold this up. This is Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot from, well, just pretty generically, California in 2015. A couple of things. First, Mondavi obviously not a fit for our Wine Club program. Obviously, we really too well known when huge, although I don’t think they get enough credit for producing really, really great wine on the higher end, this obviously is not one of those. The private selection label runs between 10 and $15 per bottle, depending on where you live and if it’s Merlot, it’s a little bit cheaper than say, Pinot or whatever.

So a couple things, so first as far as kind of these large national brands where they’re producing a million showcases a year, if you open one of these most of the time you’re going to say, “Hey, that was good.” Not like this was life altering, not that this was memorable, but also not that this was bad or I think I got hosed by opening this. And that’s in large part because they test this stuff. They know exactly the flavor profile that they need to hit, they knew the acidity numbers that people like, they know the tannin numbers that people like, and they will pick grapes the exact point that they need to, to get to this point during every vintage and if they can’t, then they’re happy to do a little bit of additives and stuff to get it there.

So we’ve done a number of private tastings with people over the years and we’ll bring in a really expensive bottle, we’ll bring in kind of something like this, and then we’ll bring in a couple of other stuff that we know is a little further out there palate-wise, and almost exclusively the really expensive bottle does win most of the time. But then the most generic one almost always finishes second, and that’s just because it is so [inaudible 01:34].

Robert Mondavi Private Selection California Merlot Back LabelSo Mondavi now, these days, most people are aware the winery’s public traded, it is kind of what it is. It was kind of the first Napa Valley winery to get that kind of level of both fame and kind of outside investment, I guess. Mondavi himself, Robert, it’s an interesting story. I won’t go into the sordid family details, suffice to say, I’ve had conversation with a number of the old heads, as you might call them, in Napa and they will refer to Robert as Bob. You hear stories like, “We were farming it ourselves, my son and I, we had these pests in the vineyard and we couldn’t figure out what was going. So I called Bob or I happened to see him at lunch and I told him what was going on, and then like two hours later the entire Mondavi crew, fully time vineyard crew, would show up and take care of whatever it was.”

I’ve heard that from multiple people over the years. And I think it’s one of those things where we don’t think about Mondavi in that way, as far as being started by a person and a family, but Robert Mondavi really was a family business for quite a long time. And I see that from people that I deal with that worked there when he was in charge still. And I see that from family members that have moved on to other aspects of the wine industry.

So I don’t think Robert Mondavi gets nearly the credit, both as the person nor as the winery, and the breeding ground it was for professional wine sales people that I’ve run into, but also professional wine educators and also people that just treat the industry like a way to cash out.

Once again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures.

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