No other brand have I tried SO HARD to like in the past 30 years. Scores of ‘Unfiltered’ over the years–young releases, old orphans, library treasures–along with generous amounts of Pinot, Chardonnay and an occasional Reserve Cab: all are met with the the same result. Despite tomes of glorious reviews and winebro’s constant elevation, these wines NEVER deliver. Pretty much the only old-school Napa producer I can say this about, but the proof is always in the glass: despite how HARD I want to like them, there’s no there there. This bottle does not deviate from than pattern.
Glowing Amaro amber, with substantial legs, the nose mired in moldy vegetal and vapid fruit. Detergent-smelling and unfruited–while neither oxidized or maderized–the dirty chocolate a vapid coating on acrid vagueness and tepid solemnity. And I DO appreciate solemnity, but it needs elegance and poise. This is dark-green and vacant: no sign of aged spice or reduced fruit. All signs point to a cheap, un-fruited wine relatively unscathed by age: it just never had it. Basically like every Mondavi I’ve had.
In the mouth, things look up a bit: a certain charisma of aged Merlot emerges, but nothing near exciting. The remaining “fruit” has reduced down firmly into now-glaring acid and remaining tannin, the result a powdery, re-constituted, soy-milk situation where suspended qualities hang themselves in watery texture. Black cherry meanders though body in a balance not terribly offensive, but falling far short of enjoyable. I’ve had ‘Sonoma’ or even ‘California’ bottles from knee-high marketing and sketchy provenance show better than this, and while Merlot may not be something this producer stakes their trademark on: if you can’t make a 10YO Napa Merlot, what are you even doing.
2011 ROBERT MONDAVI Merlot Napa Valley 14.5