1998 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Reserve
In Napa Valley, as throughout California, 1998 was an unusual year for weather. El Niño gave us agrowing season punctuated with extremes --twice the normal rainfall, 18 days of frost, cold weather at bloom and record heat spells. Yields for some varieties were down because of the wet weather during bloom and berry set. Then, as harvest approached, the weather became increasingly better, and we had near-perfect, mild, sunny days for ripening. The small, loose clusters had sufficient hang time on the vines for vibrant flavours and natural balance in the wines. Overall, the 1998 harvest, one of the latest of the decade, turned out to be of excellent quality.
85% of the grapes were selected from outstanding vineyards in the cool, windswept hills of the Carneros District. The terroir of Carneros – the complex interaction of vine, site, soil, marine climate and cultivation techniques–yields Chardonnay wines of vibrant fruit character. More than half of the grapes were grown in the Robert Mondavi Carneros Vineyard which is planted to a broad range of Chardonnay clones and rootstocks to enhance the diversity of flavours in the wine. To complement this fruit and enhance flavour depth, the winemaker chose intensely flavoured grapes from a nearby thirty year-old Carneros vineyard and grapes with exceptionally vivid fruit expression from our Sierra Madre Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley. Grapes were harvested at an average Brix, 0.78 acid and 3.74pH.
Tasting Note: Opulent layers of exotic spices, tropical fruit, citrus and hazelnuts unfold in the wine’s aromas and flavours, culminating in a long, creamy finish laced with toasty oak and vanilla. Barrel-fermentation with native yeast, gentle hand-stirring during sur lie aging in small French oak barrels add layers of complexity to the rich fruit character. To fully capture the exquisite flavours and balance, the wine was bottled without filtration; natural crystals may form as the wine evolves.
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