A Taste of Charles Krug

It’s not every day that I get a chance to taste of history.  I had a chance to do just that this week when myself and select other wine bloggers were invited by Charles Communications Associates to participate in an online tasting of the latest spring releases from Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family), Napa Valley’s oldest winery and a National Historic Landmark.

The Winery

The Charles Krug Winery was established by Prussian immigrant Charles Krug in 1861. In 1943, Italian immigrants Cesare and Rosa Mondavi purchased the historic property, which remains a family-owned winery producing estate-driven Napa Valley wines. Built on a foundation of family values, hard work and European winemaking tradition, the winery offers a portfolio of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-styled wines. The winery is under the direction of Peter Mondavi Jr., who along with his brother Marc Mondavi, stewards the family business passed to them by their father, legendary Napa Valley wine icon Peter Mondavi Sr., who continues to serve as President and CEO.

A Taste of Charles Krug
Carriage House at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena – Image courtesy of CCA (click to enlarge)

The family is now proudly welcoming members of the fourth generation to the business, continuing a legacy started almost 70 years ago and setting a foundation for generations to come.  They have consistently continued their dedication to producing the finest Bordeaux style wines in the Napa Valley.

Demonstrating a commitment to the land and historic preservation, the Peter Mondavi Sr. family sustainably maintains 850 acres of Napa Valley vineyards and they’ve recently completed a massive historic renovation of the winery, which includes the newly renovated tasting room in the historic Redwood Cellar (Charles Krug himself opened the first tasting room in California in 1882).

A Taste of Charles Krug

The reds in the spring release signal a special milestone for the winery, as 2011 marked Charles Krug’s 150th vintage as well as the inaugural vintage of their Family Reserve ‘Howell Mountain’ Cabernet.  Peter Mondavi Sr. turns 100 this year!And as the oldest winery in Napa (with perhaps the world’s oldest vintner – ) Charles Krug continues to distinguish itself as a Valley institution.

The Tasting

The online tasting was led by  Peter Mondavi Jr,  and Stacy Clark, Winemaker. The participating wine bloggers were all sent the following wines from  of the latest Spring release from Charles Krug to discuss and taste along:
2013 Limited Release Estate Sauvignon Blanc 
• 2011 Napa Valley Merlot 
• 2011 Family Reserve ‘Generations’ 
• 2011 Family Reserve ‘Howell Mountain’ Cabernet Sauvignon
If you are interested in the details of the tasting, you can view the recorded video stream at the Brandlive link. It lasts about an hour and is full of information. I found the introduction by Peter Mondavi, Jr. to be particularly interesting – as he recounts the history of his family and the Charles Krug winery.
Below are my tasting notes for the wines tasted and discussed:

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  • 2013 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Sauvignon Blanc Limited Release Charles Krug Vineyard Estate
    Very pale yellow green color with pronounced appealing stonefruit, grapefruit, and hint of grassy aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, intense, and fresh with a great mouthfeel and ample, delicious white peach, and grapefruit flavors. Lingering finish. 13.6% alcohol. SS barrel fermented – Sur lie aged for seven months (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Merlot 
    Garnet color with hearty plum, fig, spice, red currant, and vanilla bean aromas. On palate, it’s medium-bodied, and focused with surprising acidity, dusty tannins and generous red currant, black raspberry, cacao, and vanilla flavors. Lingering finish. Intriguing blend of 84% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Sirah, 3% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in French and American oak. 14% alcohol High QPR at $25 retail.  (89 pts.)
  • 2011 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Family Reserve Generations 
    Opaque black-red color very appealing, penetrating cassis, spice box, tobacco, and a bit of dark chocolate aromas. On the palate, its’ medium-bodied, with very good acidity, and an intensity that builds on the mid-palette with blackberry, cassis, bittersweet chocolate, and mineral flavors. Long finish. Approachable now, will benefit from laying it down a bit. Blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec, and 3% Merlot. 13.9% alcohol. Aged 20 months in new French oak. (91 pts.)
  • 2011 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve Howell Mountain 
    Dark red violet color with expansive black cherry, blackberry, dried herb, and toasted oak and subtle vanilla aromas. On the palate, medium-bodied, focused and harmonious with youthful tannins and black cherry, blackberry, cassis, bittersweet chocolate flavors. It’s a baby now, but drinking well. Aged 19 months in new French oak. 13.7% alcohol. Blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec (92 pts.)

Many thanks to Charles Communications Associates and Charles Krug for the opportunity to discover these fantastic wines!

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

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