A Renaissance for the Mondavi Family

Today’s Story: Continuum Estate

Continuum Estate was established in 2005 by Robert Mondavi and his children Tim and Marcia following their sale of Robert Mondavi Winery in 2004 to Constellation Brands. In 2008, they purchased the estate vineyard high up on Pritchard Hill in the Vaca Mountains on the eastern boundary of the Napa Valley, and the winery was finished in time for the 2013 harvest. While most of the fruit they used starting 2008 was from the Continuum estate vineyard, they did not use 100% estate fruit until 2012. Though Robert passed away in 2008, Continuum is still run today by siblings Tim and Marcia Mondavi with the help of their children.

Continuum consists of about 172 acres, of which roughly 62 acres are planted to the Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The property sits at elevations between 1,325 and 1,600 feet, offering both optimal winegrowing conditions and impressive views of the valley below. Continuum focuses on one premium Bordeaux blend each vintage, though they do produce a second wine called Novicium from the younger vines and it is typically Merlot-dominant or closer to an equal blending of the four varieties.

In making their wines, Continuum practices organic viticulture though they are not certified. All fruit is hand-harvested into small baskets, then hand-sorted, destemmed, and hand-sorted again. The resulting fruit is gravity-fed into small French oak and cement tanks for fermentation to begin. Following primary fermentation, the wines are drained into 85% new French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aging. Each vintage roughly 25-30% of the lots will be declassified because they do not meet the strict quality standards of the team, and each vintage spends 19-20 months aging in barrel. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Continuum Proprietary Red

65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 15% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot; 14.8% ABV

The 2014 Continuum is opaque deep ruby in color with deep purple hues. Given about 2 hours in the decanter, this blossoms into aromas of blueberry, plum, blackberry compote, black cherry, licorice, pipe tobacco, tilled rocky soil, sage, pine, and cedar. Meanwhile on the palate I get notes of cassis, sweet blueberry, spiced plum, redcurrant, blue and purple florals, pine, crushed rock, baking spice, iron, dried vanilla, light smoke, and green herbs. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, fine-grained medium (+) tannins, and a long finish. A very opulent and silky wine that probably needs another 3-5 years of cellaring.

Price: $220. Like many of the wines produced on Pritchard Hill, this is not an inexpensive bottle. In value terms, I think this is a bit of a stretch and there are wines which drink just as well if not slightly better around the $150 mark. Nonetheless, this is a delicious wine and I think it is a solid renaissance for the Mondavi family.

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