Old-School Oakville Cab

Old-School Oakville Cab

This vineyard still delivers all the fuss first generated some 50 years ago

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“What’s new?“ seems to be the talisman for all California wineries; blink, and you’ll miss the latest showstopper estate – with a price to match. This is sometimes to the detriment of more established wineries, and front and center stands Mondavi. I have drunk the “Oakville” Cabernet Sauvignon bottling of Mondavi in numerous vintages; even in so-called “difficult” years, it has always been distinctive, impressive and refreshing. “Location, location, location” is the theme of Oakville, a venerable vineyard spot that truly became hallowed ground under Robert Mondavi’s initiative. Today’s example is from a strong vintage year, and Oakville still delivers all the fuss first generated some 50 years ago.

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville $53 srp

Opaque ruby in color. Huge, perfumed, perfectly ripe blackberry, currants and baker’s chocolate wrapped in cedar. Elements of mint, leather and tobacco emerge with aeration. Flavors include fresh red fruits, plum and fig with lifting, slate-like acidity. The mouth texture is chewy, medium-full bodied with a distinct litheness and lilt before the dusty tannins close in. A balanced mouthful that refreshes now, but will welcome cellaring, too. (88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Merlot) Drink now, (with two hours breathing) through 2024.

93/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.