An Exploration of To Kalon Vineyard with Margrit Mondavi 1/27/2010

The two Fume Blancs, as they are known of course, come from the To Kalon vineyard with one carrying the further designation: I Block. The I Block is reputed to be the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in the US, with vines planted around 1945. About half of the vines in the I Block are original, the other half having been replaced as needed.

The To Kalon reserve bottling comes from vines that are undergoing a progressive replanting to introduce the best clonal variations and rootstocks into the vineyard, as well as to adjust vine spacing to what are considered to be ideal densities.

Both the I Block and the To Kalon Reserve are 100% barrel fermented in barrique, about 1/3 new, and are aged in barrel for nine to ten months. The To Kalon benefits from an addition of 10% Semillon, while the I Block is 100% Sauvignon Blanc.

For notes on a previous dinner where I tasted Mondavi’s Reserve Cabernet from 1975-1979 please see the notes here.

The Tasting Flight

2001 Mondavi To Kalon Fume Blanc Reserve

This is amazingly expressive on the nose with fresh field greens edged in mineral tones with a hint of smoke. The fruit is rich and green with melon and fresh fig tones balanced by touches of green hazelnut and olive. There’s a nice waxy element tying everything together. In the mouth this starts out feeling rich and round but the excellent acids give this uncommon definition on the midpalate and contribute to an almost blood orange tone. The backend has a lovely mineral edge to it that draws out the restrained, transparent fruit that is built on acids. On the finale, bright, almost sweet fruit wins out. This is the best domestic Sauvignon Blanc I’ve ever had.  95pts

2007 Mondavi To Kalon Fume Blanc Reserve

In contrast to the 2001 this edition of the To Kalon Sauv Blanc has more ripe fruit, but it’s also bundled up a bit tighter. There’s a light, smoky wood tone on the nose with hints of peach, lime and lime zest. With air, subtle floral, geranium petal, and almost saffron-like notes emerge from the glass. On the palate this is rich and ripe with softer acids than the 2001 but still very vibrant. It’s got a youthful, taut, linear feel to it with excellent intensity of flavor. On the backend a salty, mineral note emerges and gives this an almost margarita-like quality with the blend of citrus fruit and that geranium, vegetal tone. This really needs time to show at its best. 92pts

2007 Mondavi I Block Fume Blanc

This is subtly smoky with some geranium stem notes and slightly woodsy tones under a layer of ripe, limey fruit. In the mouth this is rich and perfumed with a very smooth texture that makes it immediately attractive The fruits tend to the tropical with notes of pineapple, citrus and melon, though there are intriguing notes of white peach and green tomato adding depth and complexity. This finishes with a minor mineral flourish and lovely inner mouth perfumes of fresh herbs. 90pts

1995 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

From 3 liter bottle

Youthful and tight on the nose with a lovely core of ripe fruit that lays red currant notes over a bed of loamy soil tones and adds classic wood spice notes around the edges. This is classic California Cabernet, quite ripe but retaining the herbal element that gives it such a complex bouquet. On entry this is rich but a bit angular still. The wine has excellent depth and concentration, needing only some time to allow the rich currant fruit to fully emerge. Already there is a lot of fine detail on the palate with a subtle, savory complexity of herbs, roast meat, and boysenberries that emerges on the long finish.  This is delicious. 94pts

2000 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

From 6 liter

This starts out a bit shallow on the nose with significant notes of herbs and tea dominating the aromatics. The fruit is there, rather compact, dark and not particularly distinctive. On the palate this offers an attractive blend of toast, gravel dust, light smoke and tomato leaf tones that add complexity to the fruit. It’s a touch lean, but is almost silky with an elegant, refined feel and a nice, crisp finish. 88pts

See additional tasting notes on the next page