Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"One of the most extraordinary vineyards on earth."

Winemaker Genevieve Janssens

This past weekend at the Premiere Napa Valley, wines were presented from 190 wineries. One that caught my attention was from Robert Mondavi. From Amuse Bouche to Z-D there were many cool properties represented, and some made Mondavi look, well, old and out of place. But place is what made this winery and valley great. And though the new tide of sommeliers don't look to Mondavi for inspiration these days, they're missing a national treasure.

Notes from the catalog - Lot Description:
Following the Robert Mondavi Winery's 40th anniversary celebration in 2006, it seemed only fitting that for Premiere Napa Valley 2007, we would look back to the early days of the winery and select grapes from some of our oldest plantings to create a very special wine from the 2006 vintage. This year we present Nostalgie, a blend of exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon from time-proven vines in the Marjorie's Twilight Vineyard (planted in 1972) and from our Z Block in To Kalon Vineyard (also planted in 1972). Both of these vineyards lie on the western bench of Oakville, just at the base of the majestic Mayacamas Mountains. Cabernet Sauvignon (clone 7) grown on classic St. George rootstock was hand-picked from old head-pruned vines, hand-sorted and fermented in oak tanks in our To Kalon Reserve fermentation cellar. After extended maceration, the wine went into French oak chateau barrels where it will remain well into 2008

I must have walked around that room 3 or 4 times, waiting for a moment to pay my respects. Winemaker Genevieve Janssens was pouring her wine. An historical figure for one so young, she has been at Mondavi since 1997 where she came to from Opus One after 9 years. The To Kalon Project was her baby, which was a major renovation of the now 40-year-old winery. Genevieve wanted a winery equal to the To Kalon vineyard, which she says is “one of the most extraordinary vineyards on earth.”


So amidst all the glitter and the glamour of the barrel tasting, good old Mother Earth quietly served up another great one. With land, we are given its inherent territoriality. With the founder, Robert Mondavi, we are given an innovative tradition. And now, with Genevieve, we are gifted with a sensibility and reverence for something out of the ordinary. This may be Napa, but the wine gods are beaming at their native sons and daughters. And that is something one doesn’t find solely on the wine trail in Italy.

My tasting note? As I tasted the wine something stirred within me, something that is still moving, as if I had been in the presence of a great master or brujo. I have only had the experience three times, but as I let just a little of the wine slide down, not spitting, another liquid appeared. Not colorful or perfumed, but of an emotion that wine rarely touches. It was a tear that fell from my eye. Powerful, a tremor that is still pulsing within, but not one of shock. One of pure joy.

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