Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay 2017

Pale gold color; white peach, pear, lemon on the nose; pear, white peach, apple, pineapple, hazelnut, lemon, vanilla, hint of oak toast on the palate.

Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay 2017

Dry; velvety mouthfeel; good acidity (3.43 pH). Medium-plus body. Some oak influence 80% of the wine fermented in French oak barrels, 21% new. Remaining wine fermented in stainless steel for brightness and fruit purity. Only partial malolactic fermentation for the same brightness and pure fruit elements. Although there is an oak influence, this is no oak and butter chard. Aged on the lees for almost a year with regular bâtonnage to encourage creaminess and depth. 14.5% ABV

Pure chardonnay play with 76% of the grapes from Los Carneros Napa, 15% Russian River Valley Sonoma, and 9% Stags Leap District. The large majority of the grapes were picked and in the cellar before the 2017 fires and there is no observable smoke taint. The Los Carneros (Spanish for “The Sheep”) AVA is located in the southernmost portion of Napa and overlaps into Sonoma. It is just north of San Pablo Bay, so ocean breezes make it the coolest vineyard area in Napa and ideal for chardonnay.

Mondavi chief winemaker Genevieve Janssens

Robert Mondavi Winery is a master at superb, large-scale production of wine that faithfully expresses the varietal or style. That carries on the legacy of the founder, Robert Mondavi, who revolutionized wine making and marketing of wine. Constellation Brands owns Mondavi now, but the affordable quality remains. Genevieve Janssens is Mondavi’s chief winemaker.

About an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, Napa is the New World’s most famous and prestigious wine region. Carneros includes parts of both Napa and Sonoma counties. Napa-Carneros lies immediately north of San Pablo Bay, and the cool fog and breezes from the bay make the climate in “Los Carneros” cooler than locations further north in Napa. That is ideal for chardonnay and pinot noir. Carneros received AVA (American Viticultural Area) status in 1983 and was the first wine region in California to be defined by climate characteristics rather than political boundaries.

Robert Mondavid To Kalon vineyard

Mondavi commits to sustainability. The winery is certified by California Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Napa Green Certified Winery, Napa Green Certified Land, and Fish Friendly Farming. Mondavi repurposes retired steel fermentation tanks to collect runoff water for re-irrigation, “saving millions of gallons of water per year.”

Robert Mondavi with iconic winery entrance in the background

Louis M. Martini started the wine story in Carneros in 1942. By the 1970s, the region had more than 1,300 acres in vines and was particularly noted for California sparkling wines. When phylloxera attacked the vines in the late 1980s, grape farmers embarked on extensive replanting with phylloxera-resistant rootstock and introduced new French clones of pinot noir and chardonnay. Today there are more than 6,000 acres of vines in the 90 square miles of the AVA.

Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay 2017 is rich and creamy while avoiding the excesses of butter and oak. This is refined high-production Napa cab. It should please many a palate, especially those drawn to the softer, plusher, more approachable style of chard. Widely available. Pair with grilled chicken and chicken pot pie; grilled chicken breast in savory cream sauce; pork; rich fish—salmon, tuna—and other seafood; grilled cheese sandwich; shepherd’s pie; vegetarian fare; goat cheeses, camembert, blue cheese, hard cheddar. Can be enjoyed by itself thanks to richness and velvety mouthfeel. Good value, especially since it often can be found at a discounted price. $17-24

Robert Mondavi Winery website

Robert Mondavi Winery entrance
Mondavi barrel aging room