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New Release: Solaire

Upon first glance I misread the label, and thought “Solaire” was “Solitaire.” A name that would have also fit these wines—as Mondavi was one of a kind and did not play the cards he was dealt. He created his own game—his own winery, Robert Mondavi and his own wines. Mondavi was the George Washington of American Wine. And July is a befitting month to enjoy this legendary American winemaker’s newly released Solaire.

French for solar, Solaire refers to the diverse Central Coast, which Mondavi turned to during the 1990s, with its warm sun, cool ocean breezes, and distinct topography. Winemaker, Rick Boyer—who has been making his own label, Boyer Estates, crafts Solaire’s Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Boyer is devoted to Central Coast grapes. Some of Mondavi’s original vineyard plantings in the Central Coast including Bianchi Bench in the Santa Lucia Highlands, Pine Creek in San Lucas and Denner in Paso Robles supply the grapes for Solaire by Mondavi.

Grapes for the Solaire by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay ($14.99) come from a cool-climate growing region, Santa Lucia Highlands, which offers warm days, winds and evening fog. This first release offers classic Santa Lucia Highlands aromas and flavors of citrus, pear and stone with a rich mouth feel. And the 13 months in small French oak barrels adds a hint of smoke.

Solaire by Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon’s grapes are harvested in Paso Robles Much, which is warmer, dryer and to the north of Santa Lucia Highlands. Daytime highs during the growing season can reach 100°F, while the nights cool down dramatically (60°-65°F) due to the close proximately to the Pacific Ocean. This full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.99) shows distinctive and intense varietal characters due to these temperature fluctuations. Aromas of dark, blackberry cassis lead to flavors of blackberry and plum with ripe tannins and integrated oak. Approachable now and will age for eight to ten years. Lay down a bottle of this first release as a tribute to Mondavi.

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