Continuum vertical tasting notes

Tasted February 6, 2012 at Tim & Carlo Mondavi dinner, Capo restaurant, Santa Monica

This was the first public tasting of the complete vertical of every vintage of Tim Mondavi’s Continuum produced to date. The 2005 and 2006 vintages were sourced from a part of the old Mondavi To Kalon vineyard. From 2007 the new Pritchard Hill estate vines were introduced, with larger proportions each successive year.

Tim is clearly very passionate about his new vineyard, which  is over a thousand feet in elevation on the west-facing slopes of Pritchard Hill, overlooking Oakville to the west. The name represents his committment to carrying on the family legacy in wine with what he calls the “fifth beginning” of the Mondavi story after the sale of the historic family estate.

As would be expected, all these wines are extremely well-made, coming from low-yield vines and with very good balance of fruit, acid, and tanins. Though alcohol levels range up to 15%, the wines were not over-ripe, and the body of the wines was more than enough to carry the alcohol.  Doubless the fact that Mondavi raises the wines on the stirred lees with “Burgundian style” aging and minimal racking contributes to the body that holds the considerable power in check.

It was not the ideal setting for serious tasting, with conversation, low light and plenty
of extraneous (and delicious) aromas from Capo’s culinary efforts confusing the
poor olfactory receptors, but these are my impressions, for what they’re worth…

Gunsmoke on the nose, followed by leather and sweet pickling spices. Soft, round attack on the palate, builds to sweet peppery flavors with confit fruits, sweet spices, ginger and mace. Very smooth finish with soft but solid grip of silky tannins. Very drinkable.

Much tighter on the nose than the ’05, with dry leather – reminiscent of a tight Bordeaux. First impression of dry tannins that hold through the palate, rather overpowering the fruit, which is there but not really showing till 20 minutes in the glass. Even then, tannins are dominating. Maybe in another few years…

Quite closed on the nose, but softer than ’07 with hints of soft leather. Mouth is very smooth, and ripe with a nice balance. Not peppery like the ’05 but with more tannins and more character; very smooth throughout. As it opens, similar pepper notes come through, and later very nice sweet cough syrup & sasparilla notes.

I have a felling my sample might have been slightly corked, with a musty edge on the nose that eventually blew off to sawdust and dry leather. (Another sample tasted after my glass had been cleared showed much more bright fruit on the nose with nice plum notes.) Regardless, on the palate the wine showed quite well, with a lively, peppery attack. Drier than the ’09 but not like the ’06 – more ripe fruit in the base. Nice crispness to the fruit that held right through to the end.

Closed on the nose, then gradually opened to dark red fruits, myrtle berries. Very complex palate, definitely a notch above the other vintages with dark fruits, the same spiciness and a firm backbone. More minerality, with notes of rocks but lots of sweet red berries coming behind. Very nice blend of ripe softness with solid Bordeaux style structure. Very good.

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