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by Fred McMillin
Sunday Is Father's Day
Fathers and Sons
"My father, Cesare Mondavi, was a very quiet man. His idea of a conversation was a shrug of the shoulders," said Robert Mondavi.
"My father, Robert Mondavi, always set standards that were incredibly high. He measured everything against the image of perfection he carried in his mind. He'd say, 'This wine is wonderful but...' and then go on for 20 minutes about its shortcomings," said Michael Mondavi.
Father Robert about son Tim—I found this in the California Wine Institute archives. "Timothy John Mondavi born April 11, 195l. Asked for a statement, his father, Robert, said, 'Looks like he has the makings of a good cellar man." Was Robert ever right. Tim went on to lead the winemaking at The Most Important Winery in the United States, according to last year's poll by the Wine Spectator.
The Most Popular Winery and the Most Popular Wine
Then, today's wine must be from California's most popular grape made by the most popular winery. That means a Mondavi Chardonnay, for Chardonnay production in California exceeds all other varieties. For example, our latest data show Chardonnay acreage is nearly twice that of Cabernet Sauvignon. Such was not always the case. Let's go to the winery when it was 11 years old.
OCT. 25, 1975: My wife and I presented a food and wine progran. Robert carefully checked every bottle (pictured) that was to be served. (Remember what Michael said about his dad's dedication to perfection.) During the cooking lesson we poured three Mondavi whites, a Riesling, a Johannisberg Riesling (off-dry) and a 1972 and 1974 Fume Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc). no Chardonnay! The sales explosion had not started. Acres of Chardonnay were roughly one-tenth of what they are today. There was nearly three times as much French Colombard, for example, as there was of the great white grape from Burgundy. Today the ratio is nearly reversed, and our white wine for Father's Day is...
1997 Robert Mondavi Carneros Chardonnay
So, this year's Father's Day vintner is Robert Mondavi. I like the tribute Frank Prial wrote in the New York Times a decade ago. "Mr. Mondavi put his wines in restaurants and shops across the nation, making a single fine wine label recognizable from coast to coast for the first time!" 'Way to go, Robert!
Note—Unabashed name dropping: In his Napa Wine, A History, author Charles Sullivan writes, "My special thanks for their suggestions go to...Fred McMillin, Robert Mondavi..." That's my sole claim to fame!
06/13/00—Rats! Not Enough Grapes
06/12/00—Quite a...Few Good Men
06/09/00—Much Ado About Peju
06/08/00—A Fantastic Fusion
06/07/00—Sing a Song of Sirah
06/06/00—From Movies to Monterey
06/05/00—An Ovation for the Bride
06/01/00—The Father of the Brides!
This page created June 2000