Robert Mondavi's Harvest

2008: fraught with drama and uncertainty



How does a California winemaker follow a highly praised 2007 harvest with one fraught with drama and uncertainty? According to Genevieve Janssens, Robert Mondavi Winery’s Director of Winemaking and 2010 Winemaker of the Year, “with intuition, ingenuity, and a lot of patience.”

The 2008 vintage was a year uncommonly experienced in California, as low rainfall, a devastating spring frost (the worst in over 30 years), and wildfires threatened to destroy thousands of vineyard acres. Drier soils and freezing temperatures resulted in many sleepless nights for vineyard managers—who worked tirelessly to protect crops from severe damage.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Robert Mondavi Winery’s new release and hear how its celebrated winemaker endured the 2008 season during a live webcast on October 27. Janssens will be joined by Vice President of Cultural Affairs, Margrit Mondavi, and Estate Director, Carl R. Jaeger, and is excited to share her experience with a global audience, stating, “It is wonderful that through the use of technology we can give our fans an insider’s look at our wines. Before, an experience like this could only be had at the winery, and now we can bring the winery out to the world.”

For more information about the live webcast, visit Robert Mondavi Winery’s event page on Facebook.

Learn more about the 2008 harvest and what the experts say by reading the full article.
In its 2008 harvest report, the Napa Valley Vinters noted that, “Winegrowers across the Napa Valley met the challenges of a crazy weather year, harvesting fruit with incredible concentration…Mother Nature may have lightened the load in the vineyard, but what’s being revealed in the winery is very well-structured, concentrated, and elegant wines.” Wines like Robert Mondavi Winery’s newly released 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, which was handcrafted from small berries wielding an elevated fruit quality. The historic winery set the benchmark for its flagship varietal decades ago, yet strives to prove itself with every harvest. In a recent letter to colleagues, Janssens expressed how her dear friend and mentor, Mr. Mondavi, looked forward to the winery’s annual release of its Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, “expecting ever-greater things from this special vineyard [To Kalon].” She continued, “The Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville has been found to be some of the finest made, and is known for its low yield with extraordinarily concentrated flavors.”

“The wines are incredibly irregular, ranging from mediocre to splendid—the latter from vineyards that were untouched by smoke from the fires,” said renowned wine critic, Robert Parker, in the December 2010 issue of The Wine Advocate. “However, the sweet spot (and it was a dramatic one for me) was just how terrific the 2008 Bordeaux varietals have turned out in Napa Valley. This is a dense, low-yielding, complete vintage for Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Many 2008s are nearly as compelling as their brilliant counterparts from 2007, and in a few cases, are superior.”

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