Review: 2008 Robert Mondavi Winery Fume Blanc Reserve

Return To Transcendence?
Bottom Line:  An exciting wine of superior quality and unique character that tries hard to live up to expectations. $40

The Rest Of The Story: (Disclosure: This wines was received as a press sample from the winery's PR firm.)  Did we have expectations for this wine?  Well, if you read the review for the 2007 vintage, in which we used the word 'transcendental' to describe it, you'd probably (and correctly) guess yes... 

Given those lofty expectations, we tried to find a way to sneak this into a blind lineup, but just didn't have any likely decoys in the pipeline at the time.  In retrospect, though, the question of whether or not such a thing exists comes to mind.  This wine is so different, so unique, that it would stand out in just about any lineup.

Perhaps the most storied wine in Robert Mondavi's diverse quiver, the Fume Blanc Reserve is the epitome of what its namesake did for winemaking in this country. 

The brilliance of the wine in the glass is surprising.  Reflecting light like a diamond does, somehow summoning and emanating more light than ambient suggests.  The nose has an exhilarating effect of a fast breeze carrying the scents of a new and exciting place, but with a certain familiarity that feels more like belonging than anything identifiable.  It's big, big, big with comin'-at-you-fast flavors.  Certainly Sauv Blanc, but is there a larger percentage of I block over last year?  The fruit flavors are robust, as are the acids which impart a delicate bitterness on the finish.  Stylistically unique - neither French nor typically California, but someplace in between.  And the place is readily tasted in this wine.

So, did it live up?

No.  The 2007 - a better vintage overall in Napa - was a transcendental wine and just too good to be bested by the 08.  That said, this remains an exciting, unusual, and pleasurable experience.