“Whatever you do, pour yourself into it”

Robert Mondavi

The weekend before last (Aug 21) I went to Tanglewood in Lenox, MA to experience the Robert Mondavi tour, as you probably saw me advertise quite a few times on my blog and Facebook page/Twitter. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to post this blog entry but it was a lot to take in and be able to write clearly about.

First, I’ll discuss the location, Tanglewood.  I’ve heard of it but never actually been there before and was surprised by it all. It reminds me a lot of SPAC but definitely has its own feel. The parking was full of  older people tailgating with their tables, wine, crackers and cheese just waiting to enter to watch the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This was obviously a very different feel than most tailgating SPAC sees but it was nice to see that it’s possible to tailgate with class. The orchestra had a very large but comfortable pavilion to play in. It’s safe to say that any seat is a good seat.

I wasn’t able to try out any of the food options but when we (my friend & I) asked, one of the workers directed us to grilled food but I’m unsure if there are other options because it seemed as if all the food places were a bit of a walk from the actual concert area.

As for the event that brought me to Tanglewood, the Robert Mondavi Discover Wine tour. The media alert named their mission as to “fulfill Robert Mondavi’s vision of enriching life by embracing wine, food and the arts as an integral part of gracious living.” I feel like most people start out their experience with wine either in college or just try one kind and that becomes their favorite. I took a wine tasting class at the Astor Center in NYC and it opened my eyes to what science and art wine actually is and I can appreciate their mission to embracing that.

I was hoping to take part in one of the Wine and Cooking shows but sadly, the weather resulted in a Red Alert and I was unable to attend the demonstration I wanted to. What I thought was ingenious and really enjoyed was the essence station. Here, they allowed us the opportunity to smell some of the scents we should be experiencing in the wine. For example, in the Pinot Noir, one of the oldest grape varieties, you should experience the aroma of dark fruit, earth, smoke, and florals but Cabernet Sauvignon should smell like anise, cider, tobacco, cassis and plum jam. I found this to be so interesting because this station took each scent separately and it allowed me to take each wine I tasted to the scents and try to spot them for myself.

Now, the most important part of the wine tasting is of course the wine. What I learned that day, most importantly, is how the wines are rated. Some were labeled “Private Selection” where as others were “Napa Valley.” I felt it was safe to assume that “Private Selection” was the highest tier because it was labeled as his personal choosing, but it’s not what you think. When label “Napa Valley” is technically a higher tier with only two more levels above it and means that 95% of the grapes are from the Napa Valley. “Private Selection” means that the grapes were personally selected throughout all of California. The wines we had to choose from were:

– Napa Valley Fume Blanc 2008: accepted as a synonym for a dry-oak, aged “Sauvignon Blanc” (different from the normal sweeter style), I didn’t get a chance to try this one but they describe it as an intense aroma of lemongrass with subtle scents of lime blossoms, sage and spice with concentrated flavors of crisp yellow peach.

– Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favorite kinds of wine and Robert Mondavi did not disappoint. Though it wasn’t my favorite among the whole bunch, I did enjoy it. They describe the wine as having rich, juicy fruit flavors of dark plum and dark chocolate and vanilla oak. The plum was the strongest flavor in the wine, almost overwhelming to the others but you are able to taste the smoothness of the chocolate and I can only imagine what it could taste like paired with a dark chocolate bar.

– Riesling, Central Coast (Private Selection) 2010: this wine, I only grabbed a sip of and wasn’t able to make an educated analysis of the wine but it was enjoyable. They describe it as a fresh honeysuckle, ripe peach and citrus blossom aromas with honeyed peach, apple and kiwi. In that one sip what is overwhelming was the freshness. Riesling anyway is a wine best served with foods with a large amount of spices because of it’s refreshing feel and I do wish I got to give it more of a taste.

– Chardonnay, Central Coast (Private Selection) 2008: they describe this wine as fruit flavors and floral aromas with partial barrel fermentation and aging on the yeast lies (sur lie aging). Floral wines don’t tend to be my personal favorite so I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the others. This was the first time I had heard about sur lie aging so I don’t really know how to be able to search for that particular flavor over oak in other wines.

– Pinot Noir, Central Coast (Private Selection) 2010: this was one of my favorite wines, they describe it silky berry and cheery jam favors with raspberry and subtle scents of roasted nuts, mint and oak.I loved the smell of this wine, the fruity flavors came out very strongly in the smell and it was almost mesmerizing. I did taste the hint of oak that they mentioned and I think it complimented the high fruit flavors very well but I couldn’t seem to taste the mint they described. Overall, it was very smooth and I liked how the flavor lingered for a little bit after each sip.

– Meritage, Central Coast (Private Selection) 2010: this, hands down, was my personal favorite during the tour. It was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (72%), Merlot (2%), Petit Verdot (11%), Malbec (8%), and Cabernet Franc (7%). They describe the wine as having black fruit flavors and they were very strong. I love the particular blends of each of the various fruits, my only problem was that with its beautiful lighter, clean texture, the flavor didn’t linger on my palette at all.

– Brut Sparkling Wine, Lodi (Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi): the last wine I tried was this Brut Sparkling Wine from Mondavi’s Woodbridge collection. They describe this wine as having fresh citrus aromas and flavors of green apple and lemon cream. I wasn’t able to taste the lemon cream because the green apple favor was front and center. For those of you who are unfamiliar with wine, Brut describes a wine that is dryer than others. That doesn’t describe the moisture in the wine but the amount of sugar, if you’re looking for a sweeter wine, you want something “doux.”

I really enjoyed myself at this wine discovery tour and was very honored to be invited. With the weather and the difficulty having to try this wines and be able to write as much as I can about the flavor in the somewhat crowded spaces, I hope you get a good feel for all the Robert Monadvi Wines I was able to taste. For more in-depth information and the ability to purchase these wines, though they should be found in local wine stores, visit their website at http://www.robertmondavi.com/ . I hope to try more of his wines because it’s unusual, at least for me personally, to find a particular brand where I enjoy most if not all of the various types.

I was also able to enter to win a visit to the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, I don’t know when they’re deciding the winner but I have my fingers crossed! For more information on the rest of the Discover Wine Tour, check out their website: http://www.robertmondavi.com/discover_wine_tour/ maybe  you’ll be able to catch a stop on the tour for yourself!