The ’76 Mondavi Reserve cabernet was raised in eighty percent new oak and was made from one hundred percent cabernet sauvignon in this vintage, as the cabernet franc and merlot did not do as well in this drought vintage. The drought produced a bit higher alcohol in this bottling, having eventually landed at 13.3 percent. While ’76 is not my favorite vintage from this superb decade, the ’76 Mondavi Reserve has evolved nicely and is a very good drink today. The complex and slightly roasted nose offers up scents of dried cherries, fresh herb tones, saddle leather, woodsmoke, a touch of chipotle pepper and a distinct note of lead pencil in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep and full-bodied, with that telltale elegance of this bottling, lovely vibrancy for a drought year, impressive complexity, melting tannins and very good length and grip on the focused finish. I have had the pleasure to drink this wine on a few occasions in the last couple of years, and while it is a bit leathery from the vintage characteristics, it is a very tasty bottle that has plenty of life ahead of it. Drink between 2010-2030.
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 1976 is the only 100% varietal vintage in the history so far of the Mondavi Reserve. Mondavi felt the wine had excellent balance without blending and so chose to leave out the Cabernet Franc as well as the Merlot that they had began incorporating in the 1970s. 1976 was two years into a drought that lowered yields but also created additional concentration. Fermented in stainless steel at a higher temperature than any previously tasted vintages (88 °F/31 ºC) and 10 days' total skin contact with the goal to increase intensity and richness. Aged for 27 months in French oak. Unbelievably youthful – almost shocking to recognise it is a 40-year-old wine. Aromatics of leather and mushroom mixed through with dried violets and accents of espresso. The nose carries into the palate on a body of mixed cherry with baking spice, dried herbs and hints of eucalyptus. Fine tannins and a gravelly minerality carry through with vibrant freshness and an ultra-long finish. 18/20 Points (ECB)
A drought year success, this remains concentrated and complex, with rich blackberry, plum, spice and earth notes that linger. (JL, Web Only-2016)
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