The SOMM Journal

May 2014

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34 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2014 { the punch-down } I SPOKE WITH GENEVIEVE BY PHONE in early April. Her favorite Mondavi quote, "Whatever you choose to do, make a commitment to excel and pull yourself into it with your heart and soul in complete dedication," is a sentiment she lives by. "Even though he is not here," she told me, "that big voice of leadership is—now and for the future." In Europe in the late 1970s, Mondavi was heralded as an innovator and visionary. Janssens came to the U.S. to see the mythological man and his operation for herself. Jonthan Cristaldi: What was your first job at the winery? Genevieve Janssens: I was an enologist in the lab. A lot of great winemakers of the future were there, like Paul Hobbs and Charles Thomas—they were not winemakers yet! Knowing the wines since the late 1970s, what can you say of their evolution? Stylistically, nothing has changed—we follow Mondavi's vision to this day, to make wines that are friendly with food, that whisper, possess balance, finesse and harmony. There is evolution in sci- ence and age of the vineyards—in the late 1990s roughly 80 percent of To Kalon was planted to XR1 rootstock. Gradually, we have been replanting and since 2005 we've re-planted 50 percent of To Kalon, mostly to 101–14, 110R, 3309 and a few others. I recently tasted the 2011 Napa Valley Chardonnay, of which 43,396 cases are produced—it's a rich, complex wine, stirred on its lees. How is that possible at such production numbers? Great wine comes from great vineyards. We night-harvest and direct-press, sepa- rating the drained juice from the press, which ferments in barrels—around 25 percent in stainless steel and the bal- ance in oak barrels of which 15 percent is new French oak. We have a good system to stir—it's like a ballet. This is the talent of Rich Arnold, a 30+-year veteran at Mondavi and a Chard expert—we stop batonnage when the mouthfeel and bal- ance is right. How do you determine which lots become the Reserve wines? You cannot make Reserve "just like that." To be Reserve you need to have the terroir. The selection of the vineyard is critical—we purchase some grapes for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but the Cabernet and Fumé Blanc is 100 percent To Kalon—and the vine- yards are never alone, we constantly check them. We have outstanding material and then you have to work with details to design wines of finesse, elegance and harmony, that pair well with food—we don't make monsters, we make an extremely good wine that is exciting for a chef. We produce 1,500– 1,800 cases of Fumé, 2,200 of Chard, 2,200 of Pinot and 8,000 of Cab. You also make wine club–only and winery-exclusive wines. Yes, PNX, for example, is a wine that is really an expression directly from us—the winemakers. With leftover Pinot Reserve we blend our best Carneros fruit to create a broader, richer, more generous wine, where as our PNR shows more focus, mineral and pure fruit—a result of terroir. We also produce 100–150 cases of clonal-specific Pinot, like clone 667, just to demonstrate nuance to our custom- ers. And we have a new 2011 Fumé Blanc, Oakville AVA, 100 percent To Kalon fruit that sees a little oak treatment. Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: interviews and ruminations with beverage industry pros by Jonathan Cristaldi Continuing the Vision GENEVIEVE JANSSENS, DIRECTOR OF WINEMAKING AT ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY, STILL FOLLOWS THE FOUNDER'S EXAMPLE Career highlights: 1977–1978: meets Zelma Long who tw o months later offers her a job at Monda vi; 1979–1988: e xplores Califor nia as a consultant; 1989: becomes Dir ector of Pr oduction at Monda vi's new pr oject, Opus One; 1997: becomes Dir ector of Winemaking for Robert Monda vi Winery; 2010: named W inemak er of the Year by Wine Enthusiast; Present: focused team-leader working on Reserv e Wines and the A ppellation Napa Valley wines and car eful r e-plantings of To Kalon. (NOTE: Robert Monda vi Private Selection is a completely separate brand, made in Monter ey under the supervision of Ric k Boy er.) PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY Somm Journal June/July.indd 34 5/9/14 12:08 PM

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