This is based on a sample provided by the winery or an organization representing them.



I received a real nice Sampler set from Robert Mondavi Winery.  The set included two bottles of their Central Coast Private Selection wines, the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2011 Chardonnay.  Also included were nicely prepared spec sheets, their “Guide to the Central Coast”, a recipe for “Penne alla Napoli with Prawns” from Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Little Napoli Restaurant, a couple of salumi from Paso Robles’ Allesina Fine Cured Meats, and a nice Moon Book on Santa Barbara and the Central Coast.




We didn’t try the recipe yet, but it looks tasty.  I’ll post the recipe and my “tasting note” when we make it in the next month or two.  The salumi was delicious.  We served one with some assorted cheeses and crackers during appetizers at a dinner party on Saturday and it disappeared VERY fast.  Highly recommended!




On to the reason you are reading this, the wines.





Winery history

I think most readers of my blog know the sometimes turbulent history of the Robert Mondavi Winery.  Since the scope of this piece is their “Private Selection” line of wines, I’ll showcase that part of the winery’s history.


The winery designated a few wines as “Private Selection” as far back as 1974.  There were a few offerings over the years until 1991.  With the 1993 vintage, the Private Selection label became an annual offering in Mondavi’s portfolio of wines.



(from the winery website)

Robert Mondavi developed a deep appreciation for the distinctive vineyards of California’s coast during the course of decades sourcing fruit from the region. In 1994, Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines was founded with this appreciation in mind, and a mission to exclusively draw from North and Central Coast appellations, showcasing the high quality and varied character of these grapes.


The allure of the California coast is simple: it is a region of tremendous varietal quality and versatility that can be used by a winemaker much as an artist uses a broad palette to blend color and create a remarkable finished piece. In this case, the result is a high quality, affordable fine wine born of the best of California’s diverse growing regions.


Robert Mondavi Private Selection produces Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Fume Blanc, Syrah, Zinfandel and Riesling. These wines – from light and lively to full-bodied and concentrated – have approachable bright fruit expression and exceptional balance, as well as great depth and texture. All are crafted to be enjoyed upon release.




My comments

I have to admit, I usually drink wines a step or two above this level.  There is a reason for this, I’ve had too many lower end wines that tasted manipulated, lacked any varietal character, and that were over ripe, syrupy, and off dry.  The third reason is the one that disagrees with my palate the most.  I don’t like a bit of residual sugar in my dry wine.




2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Private Selection Central Coast – Suggested Retail Price $11.00


This wine comes from cooler climate Central Coast vineyards.  Besides the Cabernet Sauvignon (88%), this contains small amounts of Syrah(5%), Merlot(3%), Petit Verdot(2%), Malbec(1%), and Cabernet Franc(1%).  The sources for the grapes used in this wine are Monterrey County (60%), Paso Robles (30%), Santa Barbara County (5%) and Valley South (5%).


The wine was aged in oak for 12 months.


The alcohol is a very respectable 13.5%.



My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium ruby color, lighter at the edge.  The fairly straight forward nose has cassis, baking spices, white pepper, dried herbs, cherry, toasty oak, and a slight herbal note in the background.  This has medium body, nice acidity, and a bit of a tannic edge.  The wine is a bit brighter on the palate with cherry and baking spices leading the way.  The finish is a touch short with the herbal note from the nose making an appearance.  All in all, much better than most of the $11 and under Cabernets I have had over the years.  This is dry and would work well at a party with appetizers or would go well with a nice weeknight dinner of beef stew, meat loaf, or even a meaty pizza.  There are much worse ways to spend your wine money.




 2011 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Private Selection – Suggested Retail Price $11.00


This wine comes from cooler climate Central Coast vineyards.  Besides the Chardonnay (96%), this contains small amounts of Thompson Seedless(2%), White Riesling(1%), and Gewürztraminer (1%).  The sources for the grapes used in this wine is Monterrey County(89%), San Benito County(7%), Santa Clara County (2%) and Valley South (2%).


30% of the wine was barrel fermented and aged 10 months in oak.  The remaining 70% was tank fermented.  The wine was 100% aged on the lees for 10 months.  Thirty percent of the blend went through malolactic fermentation to foster a creamy mouthfeel.


The alcohol is a very respectable 13.5%.



My Tasting Note

The wine is a nice golden straw color.  On the fresh smelling nose there are crisp apples, lemon zest, white peaches, toasty oak, fresh Spring flowers, and a bit of baking spices.  This has medium body and is a touch creamy with some citrusy acidity kicking in on the back end.  On the palate there is a big shot of spicy, tart apples and lemon zest with just a touch of oak adding depth.  This finish has good length with nice balance between the apples and lemon zest with just enough spicy oak to keep the wine in check.  This would be a nice wine to serve with a creamy, rich dish or chicken.  This wine could also be served on its own as a nice cocktail wine.




Remember to support your local wine store!




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.




All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.