Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Robert Mondavi Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2011, California

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COST: $10-$12

WHAT: This is another of my go-to wines that I like to serve when I’m stumped about what would go with the food or (would please) my guests. It tastes like a more expensive wine, and is great for a large gathering.

This is a wine you want to have on hand for the summer months. I rank it with the Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, a slightly more complex wine that sells for about $20.

The Sauvignon Blanc has a fresh, crisp taste with lots of citrus and pear notes and a touch of minerality. The aroma is interesting, with citrus mixed with a hint of freshly cut grass. It’s an all-around pleasant experience.

The grapes come from the cool central coast region of California, with 87 percent from Monterey County. The 2011 growing season was fairly cool, and that led to longer hang time for the grapes, allowing them to ripen slowly.

The fruit was harvested at night and immediately pressed into stainless steel tanks where the juice and skins were fermented at 50 degrees. It was aged sur lie (on the yeast lees) for several months.

This process helped create a rich wine with a crisp, zesty character. Serve it chilled and drink it soon.

WINERY: The California wine industry owes more to Robert Mondavi than anyone else. He put Napa Valley on the map with his belief that it could grow world-class grapes. He believed appreciation of wine, food and art led to a more gracious lifestyle.

In 1966 he built the first modern winery in Napa since Prohibition. It is still one of the most popular stops in the valley for those wanting a basic tour that explains how wine is made.

Robert Mondavi Winery makes wine at several quality and price levels. Woodbridge is the entry point, Private Selections the mid-level and Robert Mondavi Winery the top level, which is further divided into district wines, reserve wines and spotlight wines.

The Private Selection wines were introduced in 1994, featuring primarily California’s north and central coast grapes at a moderate price. Private Selection varietals include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Meritage, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.

GOES WITH: This was a perfect wine for a simple dinner of steamed shrimp and salad. The light, straightforward tastes didn’t smother the food, but the citrus flavors brought out the best in the shrimp.

It also would go well with rotisserie chicken, a variety of crab dishes and a mild fish such as flounder or cod.

It also would be perfect for summer sipping on the porch.

My wife, Teri, and I tried the Fume Blanc with fried shrimp at Edisto Beach and it was an incredible combination. The Fume Blanc has a bit more complexity and makes for a more special occasion.

WINE EVENTS

APRIL 12
Wine and tapas tasting,
5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; taste four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

APRIL 13
Wine and beer tasting
, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

Wine tasting seminar, 7 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; featuring 11 J Lohr wines, including some single-vineyard wines, $15; reservations, (803) 279-9522

APRIL 14
Wine and beer tasting,
1-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

APRIL 19
Wine tasting,
5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three white wines and three reds, plus cheese; $5, with $3 rebate on the purchase of one bottle of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522


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