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To Kalon vineyard renamed in honour of Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi Winery has renamed a block of the renowned To Kalon vineyard 'Robert's Block' in honour of the late patriarch in his centenary year.

Still working…Margrit Biever Mondavi

The winery also announced that as of the 2011 vintage, the iconic Robert Mondavi Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon will be a To Kalon single vineyard designate wine.

Up to 2010, the US$135 wine has been a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from To Kalon, with about 15% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Mondavi, who was born on 18 June 1913 and died in 2008, was remembered at an event in the To Kalon vineyard attended by more than 200 guests, including Mondavi’s widow and vice president of cultural affairs for the winery, Margrit Biever Mondavi, his 98-year-old brother Peter Mondavi, director of winemaking Genevieve Janssens, and Rob Sands, CEO of Constellation Brands, the owner of Robert Mondavi Winery.

Janssens broke the news about the single vineyard wine — the decision was made only hours before — as part of a public toast while standing in the renowned vineyard. ‘Robert established his winery in the vineyard that is now considered a first growth,’ she said.

When she brought a blend to Mondavi to taste, she recalled, he would ‘get a twinkle in his eye’.

‘Then he would say “What’s next? I think we can do better”. Well, Mr Mondavi, I don’t think we can do better than this.’

A different section of the vineyard formerly known as T Block — 12 acres (4.9ha) of 50-year-old Sauvignon Blanc used for the Reserve Fumé Blanc — was renamed ‘Robert’s Block’.

While Margrit Biever Mondavi and Janssens served as spokespersons for the day, Constellation, the multinational that purchased the winery amid much upheaval in 2004, was very much in charge of proceedings.

At a dinner that evening held on the second floor of the To Kalon cellar, Sands welcomed his wholesalers: ‘This is a very important day for Constellation…. [purchasing Mondavi] was a defining moment for Constellation. It was the thing that gave us the most credibility,’ he said.

While much has changed since the sale — ‘Its much more corporate now,’ said Biever Mondavi’s daughter Annie, who worked as a chef at the winery for 30 years and left shortly after Constellation came in – her mother continues to come to work every day, using her husband’s old office, and travelling extensively on behalf of the company.

‘In continuing to propagate Robert’s legacy, we truly appreciate the work of the Robert Mondavi Winery,’ Sands said.

Written by Courtney Humiston in Sonoma

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