Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Napa Valley 2005

Light scents of pineapple and Bosc pear drift out of the glass; the color if the wine is a sun-dappled, honey, golden straw. This is exactly the kind of a wine a prop manager could use for an 80s soap opera: imagine the reflection on the shoulder pads of the protagonist’s pantsuit, and you’re almost there.There’s no yeastiness to speak of, but there is a certain creaminess to the smell of the wine that’s very well judged. On the other hand, the wine seems to tends towards tropical fruits that don’t seem quite right for (what’s mostly) Carneros grown fruit; something smells like it’s been manipulated just a bit too much here.In the mouth, the first impression is of a wine that’s a bit flabby, but there’s jarring acidity somewhere in there as well; it’s all just slightly off balance. It seems bigger than it ought to be, with sort of a dead fruit effect: on the other hand, there are distinctive hints of good quality winemaker taste in there, presumably due to bâtonnage, barrel fermentation, and other tricks. On the whole, my best guess is that this is focus grouped to death. There are traces of a really lovely wine in here, to be sure, but on the whole it seems to have been teased out to more closely match the (bestselling) style guide that’s used to make stuff like Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve chardonnay… and I find that really depressing, because the elements for a strong, traditional California chardonnay are here: good fruit, well judged oak, and ripeness. The problem is simply that they appear to have tacked on the stuff they think will sell well (a certain sucrositĂ©, a certain broadness), and it really doesn’t belong here.If anyone knows what this wine was like before the Canandaigua takeover, I’d love to know about it.Robert Mondavi WineryPrice: US $14Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

2 thoughts on “Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Napa Valley 2005

  1. How drab. Increasingly, I feel there’s just no point to a wine that trades in anonymity, even if it’s well made and all that. Just imagine visiting a region halfway across the world and discovering that the wines taste exactly the same as the ones just around the corner from where you live. Like you, I crave those wines that understand their regional character.

    It’s about to be a Chardonnay-fest on Full Pour, as I’ve got a swag of white Burgundies to get stuck into soon.

  2. I’m afraid I’m basically out of Chardonnay at this point – I have a JK Carriere I was considering schlepping to New Zealand this December, as well as a 2001 (?) Clonakilla, but that’s about it… so I’ll leave you the chard from here on out.

    As far as regional character, you know, it really can’t be beat. Oddly enough, there is a sort of regional character in blockbusters like the wildly popular Vintner’s Reserve, but even that was missing from this poor thing. Seems like the winery’s really lost its way for now, but I hope they get back on track eventually. It’d be a shame to see a California pioneer disappear from the scene altogether.

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