2019 is a very special vintage for brothers Carlo and Dante Mondavi. It marks the family’s 100th consecutive harvest in the golden hills of California. To celebrate, the brothers have created a special 2019 label, carrying a Monarch butterfly to act as a constant reminder of their connection and responsibility to the land they farm.
‘Common sense is uncommon’ is one of the many life lessons that Carlo Mondavi learned from his grandfather Robert Mondavi. Meeting Carlo, like sampling his exotically perfumed wines, is an experience you will not forget. His family roots have had a profound effect on Carlo. Being born into the legendary Mondavi family, for Carlo, winemaking and wine appreciation have been part of his existence since the earliest days. Officially, he started his winemaking career in 1996 working with his grandfather Robert and father Tim at the Robert Mondavi winery and Opus One. In 2005, shortly after the family were strong-armed into selling the whole business to Constellation Wines, Carlo followed his father and grandfather to their new winery Continuum, a now much-prized single estate Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that we also proudly import. Yet, 2013 was Carlo’s personal moment. A visit to Burgundy with his grandfather inspired Carlo, and his brother Dante, to take a wholly new approach – and here, the idea of RAEN was born. Their ambition was to create pure, aromatic and lifted Pinots of extreme finesse and elegance from the cool Sonoma coast.
Attention to detail and the quest for perfection are vital for Carlo and his brother Dante. The label gives alcohol to the decimal point (12.9% for 2019 Freestone Occidental). The names of their fore-fathers are printed on the label and the harvest date plus phases of the moon at harvest, are printed on the corks. The name RAEN reflects Carlo’s passion for research and sustainable viticulture and is translated into the winery name, which stands for Research in Agriculture and Enology Naturally. It also is a play on the word and reminds the brothers of something they learned from their grandfather that ‘wine is the most natural beverage you can have. The rain falls on the field and touches the rock, the vine drinks the rain and the sun sweetens it’.
The brothers produce three Pinot Noirs and they work with a high percentage of stem and with almost no new oak influence (about 5-10% for barrel rotation at the winery). The Royal St. Robert Cuvée is named in honour of Carlo’s grandfather, Robert Mondavi, and a terrific introduction to the estate’s style. Crafted with the same care as the single vineyard wines, its translucent colour and perfumed ethereal style reflects the house style of RAEN at a fraction of the other cuvees. Fort Ross-Seaview is one of Sonoma County’s newest AVAs, located above the fogline. Vines were first planted here in 1817 at the Russian-American Company’s Fort Ross. Freestone Occidental is the coolest site in the RAEN portfolio and, in Carlo’s hands, results in Chambolle-like aromas and precision. It is a site that has attracted many ultra-premium producers in recent years who seek the coolest regions for growing Pinot Noir, including Phelps, Kistler and Littorai.
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