Friday, August 22, 2014

Mondavi: The Charles Krug Family Reserve Howell Mountain Cab

A recent virtual tasting event under the BrandLive banner featured Charles Krug Wine proprietor Peter Mondavi, Jr. tasting and tweeting about the wine bearing his family name, synonymous with the Napa Valley.  The Charles Krug winery and vineyards have been around since 1861.  The Mondavi family has owned it since the 1940s.  Charles Krug is the oldest winery in California and Peter Mondavi, Sr. is perhaps the state's oldest vintner - within swirling, sipping and spitting distance of the century mark.

The 2011 vintage represents not only the inaugural release of Charles Krug's Family Reserve Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, but also the winery’s 150th vintage.  95% of the grapes used in making the wine are Cabernet Sauvignon, while a 3% bit of Petit Verdot and a 2% splash of Malbec grapes round it out, and all that fruit was grown on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley.  After vinification, the wine spent 19 months aging in French oak with an alcohol content resting at a very reasonable 13.7% abv.  It retails for $75 per bottle.

A cool growing season in '11 made harvest a few weeks later than usual.  The yield was down and the sugar content of the grapes was lower than they like at Krug, but they were thrilled to capture so much flavor despite the obstacles.

The Family Reserve Howell Mountain possesses an inky ruby color, dark enough to block the light from passing through the glass.  Its nose pits cassis and blueberry notes against sweet oak spice, with a tobacco scent making a run for it,  Great fruit on the palate brings a rich berry flavor to mingle with the savory aspects.  The fruitiness is lush, but tempered by an astounding minerality.  The sense of mint, sage and spice is the perfect counterpoint to the dark fruit flavors.

The spicy tannins are delightful, and a great match for a ribeye steak grilled with rosemary.  Every year I find at least a few wines that make me daydream about a holiday dinner.  This wine will be welcome on the table alongside my standing rib roast.

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