This morning on NBC's The Today Show, famed restaurateur, author and winemaker Joseph Bastianich was the expert quest recommending wines for Thanksgiving. His recommendation for the turkey? None-the-less than Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir. I'll repeat that just in case you missed it: Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir. Now thousands of the millions who saw the segment will search out the Mondavi and for many of them it will be their first experience with pinot noir. While I realize that Bastianich had to make a recommendation of a wine that was readily available, it seems he could have found something better than the Mondavi when he was given such a bully pulpit to promote an interesting wine and, yes, there are interesting wines available that are produced in quantity. As a winemaker and restaurateur that gives the public image of supporting small production wines, this was not a choice that well reflected that image. To make matters worse, he kept referring to the Mondavi as a wine made by the father of the California wine industry, when (as we all know and I am sure he knows) the Mondavi family no longer makes the wines sold under the Mondavi label as now they are made by corporate giant Constellation Brands, who while they may own most of the California wine industry, certainly did not father it.
The consumer has a rough road when the experts treat such opportunities so lightly.