#WineWednesday Review – Robert Mondavi Private Selection

If the blossoming of the plethora of cherry blossom trees is to be believed…Spring has sprung here in Northern California. And that has got me thinking of picnics…and picnic wines!

Cherry Blossom trees just outside my office.  As I was taking this pic, it was "snowing" cherry blossoms - very cool!
Cherry Blossom trees just outside my office. As I was taking this pic, it was “snowing” cherry blossoms – very cool!

Here are two budget-friendly wines that fit the picnic wine bill quite nicely.

The Winery

The Robert Mondavi Winery was established in 1966 by Robert Mondavi, one of the most influential and esteemed winemakers in California history (Click here for his story).  It was the first major winery built in Napa Valley. For decades it was California’s most famous winery.  It was acquired by Constellation Brands in 2004.

It’s a beautiful property with classic California mission-style architecture, with an expansive archway and bell tower.  I must confess I haven’t been in a long time.  I recall visiting on one of my first trips to Napa.  Nowadays, I tend to visit the smaller wineries.  But, I’ve been impressed with their reserve wines.  I’ve also been impressed with a few of their entry-level wines  In particular the Napa Valley Merlot, and the Private Selection Meritage provide very good to great price quality performance.

The Wines

Both wines are from the RM Private Selection line of wines.  The Private Selection collection of wines are intended to highlight the Central Coast appellation, a rather large area in Central California  that spans from Santa Barbara to the southern end of the San Francisco Bay area.

Introduced in 1994, Robert Mondavi Private Selection captures the range of growing conditions within California’s Central Coast appellation, producing wine with bright fruit expression and exceptional balance

The Private Selection brand is getting a bit of a makeover with newly designed labeling, packaging, and a return to its Central Coast roots.

Other wines in the Central Coast Private Selection collection are MalbecMeritageMerlotPinot GrigioPinot NoirRieslingSauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel.

First up the Chardonnay…

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chard

I tasted these wines with 5 other wine-loving friends at an impromptu gathering last weekend.  None were not aware of the price until after they’d tasted the wines.  All enjoyed the wines, and were surprised the retail price was $11

My tasting notes follow:

Pale straw yellow color with fruity apple, lemon rind and spiced vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, fruity, and low-acid with easy with apple, lemon, pineapple and spiced vanilla flavors. Medium finish. Nice value play at $11 SRP!

Rating: B – This a good wine that over delivers for the price

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 13.5% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > CaliforniaCentral Coast (89% Monterey County)
  • Grape varieties: 96% Chardonnay. 2% Thompson Seedless, 1% White Riesling, 1% Gewürztraminer
  • Cooperage: 30% aged in French/American oak for 10 months/70% in Stainless Steel
  • Retail: $11
  • Drink: now – 2014
  • >>Find this wine<<

Next, the Cabernet Sauvignon…

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cab

My tasting notes follow:

Opaque garnet color with ripe red fruit, oak, and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, smooth and easy with plum, cherry and vanilla flavors. Medium finish. Nice value play at $11 SRP!

Rating: B – This a good wine that over delivers for the price

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 13.5% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > CaliforniaCentral Coast (60% Monterey County, 30% Paso Robles)
  • Grape varieties: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, 3% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdo, 1% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc
  • Cooperage: Aged in 12 months in French and American oak
  • Retail: $11
  • Drink: now – 2014
  • >>Find this wine<<

These wines are a great example of the advantages of a winery the size of Robert Mondavi – economy of scale, and breadth of their offerings. They produce wines at all price/quality levels along the wine spectrum from budget to super-premium wines.  There’s something for everyone!

I used Robert Mondavi Private Selection website to find out where these wine may be purchased, and for how much they are being sold.  Stores in my zip code included Wal-Mart, 7-Eleven and an Asian Market.  I dropped in at the Asian Market for grins and they were selling the 2011 Chardonnay and the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon for $6.99!  Wow! These wine make great everyday, picnic, or cocktail wines( especially for those friends you don’t want to “waste” a more expensive wine on – you know who they are;-).  And you’ll be hard pressed to find wine of this quality for $7!

Media sample(s) – Many thanks to Folsom & Associates for providing the wine.

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Below Average
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!  Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.


  1. My local grocery was having a 30% off all wine sale, along with a $1 off each bottle for the Mondavi Red Cabernet. I recalled enjoying this inexpensive wine a couple years ago, read this review, and sampled a bottle of the 2010. Next day I bought 2 cases at the lowest price I’ve bought good wine in years, $5.29 per bottle.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complex wine to hem and haw over. It’s a good ripe red table wine with low tannins, which just happens to be the kind of wine I like best.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Wow! What a great price for a wonderful everyday wine! SCORE!

  2. Jann Homer says:

    I am not a wine drinker but have a bottle of Robert Mondavi Coastal Chardonnay Central Coast with the year 1994. I can’t find any information about this. Can you help?

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Hi Jann – Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find out anything about the ’94 RM Coastal Chardonnay Private Reserve, other than ’94 was the first year it was produced. The RM Private Reserve wine are intended for early consumption – within 2-3 year of the vintage, so precious little information is available in terms of tasting notes and/or productions specs…Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful

  3. Suzy says:

    I buy this wine in bulk! A fabulous value for its overall quality. Buying this wine for its everyday use makes me feel less guilty when I do purchase a more “expensive” wine for special occasions. Lol!

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