It was a little sad. Our host pulled out a bottle of 1992 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon and poured it around the table and we all immediately raised our glasses to the memory of Robert Mondavi, who recently passed away. The wine was lovely, everything a mature cabernet should be with a firm elegant character, a wonderful cigar box nose and that long, linear, intellectual finish that defines the variety at its best.
The sad part was not the passing of Mr. Mondavi, who lived a full and meaningful life into his nineties. It's hard to think of someone who lived a fuller life and no one left a bigger imprint on the American wine industry. The sad part was a wine blog post I read earlier in the day that grumped away about all the coverage of his death, wondered what the big deal was all about and why he should care. Writing a wine blog and not knowing about Robert Mondavi is like writing a blog about American history without knowing who George Washington was. How can a wine writer that doesn't understand the immense impact of Robert Mondavi provide meaningful commentary on the American wine industry? They can't and that's a little sad.
Understanding the sublime art that great wine can become is more than pulling the cork and giving it points. In every bottle of California wine that achieves greatness there will always be a bit of Robert Mondavi. To not understand that is to not fully know or appreciate that wine. It is the human spirit that raises wine from a beverage to an emotion.
We can be assured that there have been thousands of corks pulled from treasured old bottles of Robert Mondavi's wines in the last week and tens of thousands of glasses raised in his honor and memory. I can't think of a better tribute.
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