June 30, 2011

Stu’s view: 2008 Continuum

Filed under: News — burke @ 9:30 am

We’ve been in a very interesting place this past couple of years with our fledgling Continuum project. It’s clear now that launching a new and expensive wine in these times has been like launching an untested (albeit sea worthy) sailboat in a hurricane! Timing, they say, is everything.

Even so, the reception to Continuum has been exceptional, unparalleled in my 35 years in the wine business. The primary reason, I believe, is the real substance behind the project. The story of the Mondavi family returning to the fine wine business in Napa Valley (a business they were instrumental in creating!) is compelling. When you combine that with the quality of the wine itself (and the response to that wine by the critics) we’ve gotten off to a great start.

Our momentum began to build in earnest with the 2007 Vintage. That exceptional vintage for Napa Valley allowed a nice showcase for all Napa Valley wines, Continuum in particular. It took us only 3 months to sell out in our major markets, and through our on-line channel. We were delighted, given our relatively unknown status and price category, to have this kind of acceptance.

That being said, we approached the 2008 vintage with some trepidation. The reputation of the 2007 vintage was clearly a factor in our success last year. We were not sure how the market would react to our 2008, clearly in the shadow of its highly touted predecessor. The answer to that question came quickly. We were sold-out in less than 45 days of our March 1st release on our website. We had a similar reaction in the marketplace. And this is before the critics chimed in on the wine itself!

I suppose if I had to give credit to any one factor in the success of the 2008 Continuum, it would be just that… the quality of the wine.  It is by some accounts (Tim’s for one!) the best of our first four vintages. In fact, Tim has been quoted as saying the 08 Continuum could well be one of the best red wines he’s ever made. And that’s saying something, when you consider his role in making Opus One, Mondavi Reserves, in Tuscany Ornellaia and Luce, Sena in Chile, etc. It’s an impressive list.

We’re fairly certain that our momentum will continue. We’re delighted that the 2008, for the first time, was made predominantly from grapes from our Pritchard Hill Estate. Vintages that follow will lead to a 100% estate grown wine by 2013. I think this increasing reliance on Pritchard Hill will further enhance the quality, and further underscore our very serious approach to our category.

Thank you for all your continued support of our Continuum.

We could not do it without you!


June 10, 2011

Continuum on the road

Filed under: Events — burke @ 9:34 am


Tim and Marcia Mondavi congratulate Continuum lot bidder Darioush Khaledi at 2011 Auction Napa Valley

Upcoming public events-

2011 Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience
Grand Tastings
October 20-21, 2011
New York, New York

Marcia’s view from the hill

Filed under: News — burke @ 9:00 am

Building the Continuum Estate winery road, June 2011

Cabernet Franc in bloom Continuum Estate, June 2011

We have had an amazing late spring here on Pritchard Hill. The weather has been quite cool and we have had very unusual June downpours. Our rainfall to date is 43 inches, a good 5 inches more than normal. This wetter weather has only proven to us how fortunate we are to be here on Pritchard Hill. With elevations between 1300-1600 feet., our estate vineyard temperatures tend to be a bit warmer, by about 5* , when it is cooler on the valley floor and a bit cooler, once again by about 5*, when it is hotter down below in Oakville. This certainly was an advantage with our 2010 vintage. Last year was a very cool vintage and many on the valley floor had trouble with ripening. Being above the fog line, with a bit more morning sun, certainly has its advantages.

Spring brings the vine’s flowering. This is one of the most important times of the year for our vines. A warm dry period encourages the vine shoots to put all their energies into flowering. This flowering forms the berries for our fall harvest and also sets the stage for the next year’s crop. This year the cool weather was a blessing for us as it delayed our bloom until after the downpours of last week. Now that the sun has come out and it’s warmth has covered the vineyards, we are just beginning to see flowering in our Cabernet vineyard! Perfect timing!

As we are walking the vineyards looking for flower, we are also watching to see how our new 19 acres of vines are doing. The bench graft vines are really doing well, it is exciting to see them progress starting to reach for the trellis. We are also in the process of field grafting Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot onto the root stock we planted last year. Our vineyard team, assisted by a crew of a dozen more can field graft a phenomenal number of vines: 4000 a day!!!! This is truly an art and a fabulous skill.

The first weekend of June also brought the 31st annual Auction Napa Valley. The generosity of the Auction attendees is really amazing. Over the last three decades the Napa Valley Vintners have raised and donated over $100,000,000. to charitable institutions throughout Napa Valley. From health and wellness programs at local hospitals to educational support and youth outreach and low income housing programs, the Auction has improved the quality of life for generations of Napa residents. Isn’t this a run on sentence?

Our 2011 Live Auction lot was a celebration of our Italian Heritage. Tours, tastings and private cooking classes with some of the finest chefs in the Bay Area with lots of Continuum! All this, and a fabulous dinner with the Continuum family at Tim’s house. We were thrilled that our lot raised $85,000. And was purchased by our dear friend Darioush Kahaledi of Darioush Winery in the Stag’s Leap District. We are looking forward to cooking and dining with him sometime soon.

This spring has also brought a crop of new reviews for our 2008 Continuum. Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar said our 2008 was “Large-scaled and voluptuous yet light on its feet, with lovely floral perfume to the flavors of black cherry, minerals and sexy caramel oak. Seems every bit as strong as the 2007 bottling, and perhaps even more refined.” We are thrilled with this wonderful review as well as an excellent one from Jim Laube at the Wine Spectator. ” A remarkable effort, offering riveting, expressive aromas of mocha, currant, mineral, herb, black licorice, tar and pebble, this is intense, structured, balanced, nuanced and firm, finishing with a gutsy richness and sophistication.”Of course, we also must thank all of you, our spring release was an enormous success. We sold out of the 2008 vintage in a mere six weeks! In fact this was twice as fast as last year!! Thank you!!!

Finally, the most exciting news here at Continuum is that we have started construction on the road to our future winery site. This means that our caves and fermentation room is truly on its way! For those of you who have visited us the phrase “red, rocky volcanic soil “has real meaning. As they dig away the bright red soil, rocks and boulders are everywhere. It is this rock that drains our soil, and gives our wines their unique depth of character and richness. These rocks will also be crushed, mixed with more soil and put back to establish the foundation for our road and for our future winery. This rock is important! When the road is completed, we will begin construction of the winery caves, hopefully in September.

Please do take the time to come up to Continuum and watch our progress, it is VERY exciting!

Thank you all for your continued interest and support! Keep spreading the word of Continuum.

Have a great summer!

Marcia Mondavi Borger

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