Last week I got the chance to taste the Mondavi family’s 2010 Continuum Estate wine. Everything from the label (designed by Chiara Mondavi) to the winemaking itself (courtesy of Tim Mondavi) is family-run. And this is not your run-of-the-mill winemaking family, either. The Mondavis are famous in the wine world for generations of quality winemaking. Dating back to the early 1900s, the Mondavis were one of the early proponents of growing grapes and making wine in California. They truly put Napa Valley on the global winemaking map.
When I sat down with Carlo, I was curious to find out if he feels pressure to live up to his family name. Rather than discuss pressure itself, he noted the incredible respect he has for his father, Tim, who has been making wine for over 40 years. He speaks with fond memories of his grandfather, Robert, who taught him that in order to succeed in life, you need passion, heart and soul.
The Mondavis want Continuum to compete with the top wines of the world: “our goal at continuum is to make a single wine, from a single estate, to sit with the great estates of the world. And that’s it.” That’s it seems to be a casual phrase for winemakers trying to compete with the likes of Chateaux Margaux, but after tasting this wine I can see the comparison. Robert Parker has given it 97 points (almost unheard of), and I have to agree with his high rating. The wine is extremely smooth on the palate, yet absolutely bursting with flavour. It has delicate tannins that provide a structure not noticeable on a lighter wine. The flavours emit berry, cherry and truffle notes and the 71% Cabernet Sauvignon really shines through in this blend. You could drink this wine now or lay it down for 20 years – a sign of a great wine. By producing only 2500 cases, the Mondavis are able to really focus and make each and every bottle the best of the best.
When asked about food pairings, Carlo insisted: “because there is a good amount of Cabernet Franc, and because of the style my father has in wine, it’s a food wine” and suggests trying it with anything from grilled salmon to a meaty steak. It’s a perfect wine for the winter months, when you have the fire on and something hearty cooking in the oven.
This wine doesn’t come at a low price point, and there’s a reason for that. In order to compete with the great wine estates of the world, their quality has to be unparalleled. However, if you want to try it, it is available at local restaurants like Black & Blue, Ciopinno’s and Market by Jean Georges. If you’re looking for a special gift for those wine lovers in your family, I can guarantee you they won’t be disappointed with this gem (available at Cambie, Park Royal and Alberni BC Liquor Stores).
After tasting Continuum, I asked Carlo to tell me who he would have his last sip of wine on earth with. His answer? His father, Tim, and grandfather Robert, who told him: “making good wine is a skill, and fine wine an art.” This is certainly an art that the Mondavis have perfected.