The Bacchus Report: Robert Mondavi, a living legend

In 1966, when he went into the wine business at age 53, Robert Mondavi of California had no idea that he would live a healthy life until he reached his ripe old nineties.


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When Robert Mondavi decided to set up a winery in the Napa Valley, not far from San Francisco, the vineyards that had been planted at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries were in a state of neglect (due to prohibition), and the years that followed WW II weren’t very favorable for their restoration. The first Mondavi wine from Napa available was Chenin Blanc 1966, and it went for two dollars. Today his wines are sold for as much as 100 dollars a bottle, and wine is one of California’s most important export commodities. Mondavi didn’t settle for success in his home valley and country, but worked together with leading wine-makers to build prosperous wineries in Chile, Italy, and France, and he is now sinking roots in Australia.
Mondavi’s first ally on the road to the world of great wines was Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the owner of the renowned French Chateau Mouton Rothschild. In 1979 they established an enterprise for the production of wine of “unique spirit and quality”, and their famous dark red “Opus One”, the most expensive wine of Californian origin, was the fruit of their joint labors. In 1995 he teamed up with a top Italian wine producer, Marquis Frescobaldi, with whom he produced Luce and Danzante wines. In 2000 they together purchased extensive vineyards in Tuscany. Mondavi also holds a stake in the famed Italian winery of Marquis Antinori.
In 1996 Mondavi made great investments in Chile, where, together with the family of Eduardo Chadwick, he founded one of the finest wineries, Caliterra. In 1999 he donated 20 million dollars to the Center for Wine, Food, and the Arts. When Robert Mondavi turned 90 this year, he invited 1,700 guests to the family estate, where the 17 chefs cooked dishes according to family recipes. Fellow patriarch of Californian wines, Ernest Gallo (93) paid his respects, and the governor of California declared Mondavi’s birthday a red-letter day.
The author is the editor of Hospodářské noviny’s IN magazine.

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WINE GUIDE

Fumé blanc 2000, Robert Mondavi Winery, Napa Valley, Kalifornie, USA
A pleasant, fresh wine with a rich, flowery aroma and a structure corresponding to maturing in yeast by the Sur Lie method – 80% Sauvignon blanc and 20% Sémillon.
Price from importer: 1200 Kč

Caliterra Carmenéere 2000, Robert Mondavi a Eduardo Chadwick, Valle de Colchagua Chile
A beautifully structured red wine from a unique varietal, with marked sweet tannins, and notes of freshly ground white pepper on the palate.
Price from importer: 495 Kč

Zinfandel 2000, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Lodi, Kalifornie, USA
A fine representative of a typical California varietal – a spicy, full-bodied, aromatic wine with a hint of black cherries and a velvety finish.
Price from importer: 470 Kč

Danzante Pinot Grigio, Robert Mondavi a Marchesi de Frescobaldi, Severní Itálie/North Italy
In this country known as Ruland Gray. In the Italian style it is a dry, pleasantly flowery wine with goldish reflections and long persistence on the palate.
Price from importer: 375 Kč
Distributor:
Global Wines, Václavské nám. 53, 110 00 Praha 1, tel.: 221 965 253

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