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A Salute to Solaire

Submitted by on February 16, 2009 – 2:53 amNo Comment

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Wine & Spirits Nothing compliments a meal or an evening with friends like a good bottle of wine, and suffice it to say I’m a connoisseur – however self professed. I recently had the pleasure of tasting two new wines from Robert Mondavi’s Solaire collection ( – the first new wines produced by the venerable winery in fifteen years: the 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay and the 2006 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. They did not disappoint.

2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
This Chardonnay is rich, full-flavored, and well-balanced. The grapes for this luscious white wine come from the Santa Lucia Highlands where the aromas and flavors fall into the tropical fruit spectrum. Think citrus, pear, peach, mango and pineapple.

The vineyards in this area are on elevated ground where the grapes receive full morning sun and cooling breezes from the nearby Monterey Bay. This allows for an especially long growing season, leading to optimal fruit and tannin development. In a phrase, the climate allows more delicious grapes to flourish for a wider array of world-class wines such as those in Mondavi’s Solaire collection.

The grapes for this Chard have been aged for 8 months in a combination of new and one-year old French oak barrels, which adds a hint of vanilla cream and brown spice. The result is a round, plush wine with a tantalizing fruit flavor. A bottle of the Solaire collection of Chardonnay retails for about $15.00.

2006 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
In a robust competition with my love of Chardonnay is my affinity for a good Cabernet – especially when I’m carb loading on Italian food. Mondavi’s 2006 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon is now high on my Cab list for its full-bodied, yet still soft and approachable, flavor profile while still young.

Rife with aromas of blackberries, cassis, and plums, the flavor is also set off by ripe tannins and the sweet vanilla oak that comes from the casks that held the wine over a period of many months. It has a lush finish that thankfully lingers.

The grapes for this wine come from the Pine Creek vineyard, which offers a cooler climate to contribute to the denser flavor of the darker and smaller berries used. These grapes provide what is considered to be a good structure for the final product. They were given more time before being harvested due to a cooler season between August and September. According to the winemaker, this gave the grapes time to develop ripe, full flavors and excellent balance.

The winemaker also suggests that you leave this wine in your climate-controlled cellar for eight to ten years as it will continue to improve over time. Mondavi’s 2006 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon retails for $17.00 per bottle.

Robert Mondavi is, of course, widely known as California’s pioneer of world-class wines using grapes cultivated at vineyards throughout the Central Coast of California. Wines in the company’s Solaire collection use grapes that originate from Mondavi’s Bianchi Bench and Pine Creek Vineyards.

Rick Boyer is the chief winemaker behind Solaire by Robert Mondavi. With more than 20 years of experience, Rick has developed a distinct style and he is known to have a sterling reputation among the several well-respected Central Coast wineries where he honed his craft. Rick employs artisan winemaking methods to combine a distinct group of flavors to each wine he creates. In defining the Solaire style, Rick believes that the “elegant, balanced wines” lend themselves to complementing an array of food and supporting the idea of “gracious living.”

Gracious living, indeed.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s)
detailed above were provided at no cost and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions
expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any
way as per the disclosure policy on our “Legal” page***


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