Put simply, Robert Mondavi believed that when it came to wine drinking, you should like what you drink and drink what you like. The Robert Mondavi Discover Wine Tour, an 11-city tour now in its 6th year, was founded on that platform – to democratize the sometimes-snootiness of wine appreciation and help everyday people decide what kinds of wine they like.
As the Happy Hour Tour was also founded on pretty much the same “Power to the People” and have fun while drinking and eating well idea, we were happy to be invited to visit the RMDWT (the HHT loves acronyms!) during its first-ever stop in Los Angeles – at the LA Wine Festival, held over June 11-12th at the Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. Set near the entrance of the multi-lot fest, the RMDWT stood out with its vineyard-inspired décor, long tasting bar, and education stations with information about aromatics (subtle aromas and flavors present in every wine), the Mondavi company-timeline, and several iPads with pictures from past RMDWT stops and food pairing recipes.
After perusing the information, we realized we had made it just in time for a Mondavi master-class, where we sampled 4 wines from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection (one of the four Mondavi lines now owned by Constellation) in awesome recyclable Govino glasses:
• Riesling – A very delicious Riesling that wasn’t too sweet, with a touch of sharpness and taste of honeysuckle
• Chardonnay, Central Coast – a slightly smoky tasting Chardonnay that would go perfectly with soft cheeses or fettuccini alfredo
• Pinot Noir, Central Coast – apparently ever since SIDEWAYS, this wine has become more and more popular – RM’s Private Selection was slightly smoky as well, a nice lighter red wine
• Meritage, Central Coast – a combination of the words Merit & Heritage and a Bordeaux style belend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, andCabernes Franc – again a lighter red – that I wish I took more notes on, but I was trying not to get stung by a bee – true story!
While sampling the wines, we learned more about Mr. Mondavi’s story – how he was born in Minnesota to a family of Italian immigrants. After Prohibition hit, the family relocated the family to California –seeing a business opportunity brought on by the Prohibition clause wherein families were allowed to produce 200 gallons of their own wine every year. After working in the industry for some time, the Mondavi family purchased the Charles Krug Winery in 1943. In 1966, Robert Mondavi had left the family business and created the Robert Mondavi Winery, headquartered in Napa Valley, and in 1979, he expanded his wine empire with the Woodbridge Winery in the Central Coast.
We also learned the 4 S’s of Wine Sampling:
• See – looking for clarity in the wine
• Swirl – releasing the aromatics, which you can then…
• Sniff – quick sniffs of the wine from the top of the glass
• Sip – YUM!
Apparently, there’s a six-step process as well, but we like whatever gets us to drinking the wine quicker! The seminar was very interesting and helpful, and with just enough of a sales pitch that you might want to visit the wineries – or at the very least sample the Woodbridge Brut Champagne that our teacher mentioned was her favorite. We will admit that it was pretty tasty.
After our stop at the RMDWT, we made our way throughout the rest of the fest, making sure to buy and wear our own wine lanyards, quite possibly the most ingenious invention of the last 50 years. We enjoyed sampling from some of the more boutique labels along with trying out bites from Bread Basket Cake (OMG-good truffles!) and Tsunami Sushi and Strictly Vegan Jamaican Cuisine. We were very, very impressed with the organization of the fest, never waiting more than 2 minutes in line for a drink, and the nice crowd of LA-wine fans!
Who doesn't love a sushi mascot?!Thanks to Max Benesi and Jenn Guillette of Grand Central Marketing and to the Robert Mondavi Discover Wine Tour for hosting us. The tour is making its way through the rest of the US, we recommend checking it out at:
• Denver, CO | July 2-4 – Cherry Creek Arts Festival
• Atlantic City, NJ | July 29-31 – Atlantic City Food * Wine Festival
• Lenox, MA | August 19-21 – Tanglewood
• Royal Oak, MI | September 2-5 – Arts, Beats & Eats
• Chicago, IL | Sept. 24-25 – Chicago Gourmet
• Philadelphia, PA | October 21-23 – Philadelphia Wine & Food Festival
If all this makes you want to watch SIDEWAYS or BOTTLE SHOCK, join the club – they’re in my Netflix queue now! Can’t wait to curl up with a nice glass of… guess what?!