Continuum Vintage Vertical Tasting 2013 - 2005

Published: 21-03-2016


With Tim & Carissa Mondavi at 67 Pallmall

This was the first time ever a complete vertical of Continuum’s Proprietary Red wine was shown anywhere outside of the winery.

The name Continuum derives from the fact that the Mondavi family haven’t missed any grape harvest since 1919.

The Mondavi winery was built in 1966 and Tim joined his father Robert fulltime at the winery in 1974 after completing his studies in viticulture and oenology at UC Davies. In 1978 the first vintage of Opus one was produced in cooperation with the Rothschilds of Château Mouton-Rothschild. Less than five years after graduating from university this opened up the fantastic and unique opportunity for Tim to work with top class winemakers from Mouton and later as well with winemakers from Ornellaia in Bolgheri over the course of the following decades.

In 2004 Tim and his family were left with ‘a broken heart’ because their winery was sold. However this left them also with a bag of money and as in Tim’s opinion ‘the best remedy to cure a broken heart is a new love’ he started to look for a new vineyard site.

From 2005 to 2012 grapes were bought in from the To Kalon vineyard which was actually previously owned by the Mondavis. When there was an opportunity to buy a parcel on Prichard Hill, Tim did not hesitate to buy it. Continuum own 173 acres on Prichard Hill out of which 62 are planted with vines. The percentage of Prichard Hill fruit increased in the Proprietary Red throughout the years until it was made 100% from it for the first time in 2012.

As opposed to the flat To Kalon vineyard Prichard Hill is located above the fog line which was particularly beneficial in the wet 2011 vintage.

Prichard Hill is not an AVA (it will also never be, as the name is trademarked by Chappellet), but a small district. There is a high Cabernet Sauvignon percentage of plantings and famous wineries next to Continuum include Colgin, Bryant Family, Chappellet and David Arthur. Tim is also very fond of the high Cabernet Franc percentage in his final blend as it adds freshness and complexity to the wine.

Tim Mondavi loves the philosophy of Burgundy because it is this region in particular which teaches an appreciation of the vineyard site and for his winemaking he has a Burgundian approach. Tim loves yeast (bâtonnage gives creaminess and tenderness to the tannin and there is also less sulfate needed to finish the wine). For the maturation of his wines however he prefers the Bordelais approach with ageing in Barrique barrels.

The aim is to produce wines to go with food. Tim seeks to make wines of elegance, balance and complexity. Carissa Mondavi added a quote of her grandfather ‘a great wine must have the power of Pavarotti and the tenderness of a Baby’s bottom’

The first vintage produced in their newly built winery was 2013 which also marks the 100 year anniversary of Robert Mondavi’s birth.

2013 was a draught year which brings the tannins forward and makes this a vin de garde - a wine to keep.

2012 was a very even vintage with neither too much heat nor too cold weather at any time.

2011 was a cold vintage and grapes had to be meticulously selected.

Tasting Notes:

2013 Vintage (66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc,9% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, matured in 68% new French oak)

This has a deep ruby red colour with purple coloured legs. On the nose the wine is intense and fruit driven with predominantly blackberries, cassis, dark cherries as well as vanilla, cedarwood, a touch of spice, coffee and smoke. On the palate the wine is full bodied, has a high tannin content which is fine grained and well structured. Again there is plenty of dark fruit chocolate and nougat. The wine finishes with a long length and high complexity.

2012 Vintage

This has a deep ruby red colour, is clear and vibrant. The nose started off slightly muted but just needed some air to open up in the glass. It is still a very youthful wine. Black cherries, nutmeg, spices, floral (violets), tar. The palate is dry, full bodied, has a medium intense velvety tannin which is fine and polished, dark fruit, kitchen spices (pepper, nutmeg), dark chocolate, very good balance and long length.

2011 Vintage (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc,2% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot)

This has a deep ruby red colour, is clear and bright. The nose has a lot of fragrance to it: mint, fresh herbs, cut grass, cassis, blackberries, needle tree. The palate is dry, full bodied, has a medium intense, velvety tannin, fine dark fruit, kitchen spices (pepper, nutmeg, cardamom), dark chocolate; there is a very good balance to the wine, long length, creamy texture, dark & smoky minerality. An elegant wine!

2010 - 2008 was the transition period when hillside fruit was used as well as some valley floor fruit from the To Kalon vineyard

2010 Vintage (92% estate grown fruit from Prichard Hill 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot)

Deep ruby colour, on the nose there is a distinct graphite, tar, cassis juice,cedar wood, macerated / ripe fruit. The palate is dry, full bodied, savoury. It has medium + acidity, fresh sour cherries, red fruit, a medium intense tannin which is well integrated finishing with a long length.

2009 Vintage (80% estate grown fruit from Prichard Hill 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot)

Again a deep ruby red colour, on the nose there is lots of fragrance: needle tree, herbal, fennel, dark fruit, cassis. Also the palate has intense flavours dominated by dark fruit, bitter chocolate and medium intense well integrated tannins, alcohol feels a bit more intense here but it is well balanced with these intense dark fruit flavours.

2008 Vintage (70% estate grown fruit from Prichard Hill 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot)

Deep ruby red colour, the nose is dominated by dark fruit: cherries, blackberries, dark plums and spices. On the palate there are cassis, black currant juice, lots of spices, mint, cut grass, herbs, medium + tannins, zedar wood, graphite.

2006 Vintage (59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 16% Petit Verdot)

This started off with a light volatility which blew off after a couple of minutes in the glass. On the nose I got macerated fruit, herbs, grass, marzipan, almond kernel. The palate is dry and full bodied with flavours of chocolate, cassis, blackberries, dried flowers (rose & violet), medium + tannin which is dry and slightly ‘grippy’.

2005 Vintage (58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 19% Petit Verdot)

This has a medium intense ruby red colour,with garnet highlights and this could very well have been European! The nose displayed turned, wet earth, red & black fruit, cassis leaf, touch of leather. The palate has a medium + body, is dominated by red fruit and has a medium + finish which is again complex and very ‘old world’ in style.

By Anja Breit

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