“Sometimes boring consistency can be a good thing.
“For a couple of days last week your reviewer was in a small Northern California town. Small as in having about 1,000 residents. Dinner was nearly ready when we realized there wasn’t any red wine. Not wanting to drive the 20 minutes to a city 50 times that size to find a reasonable wine selection, he visited one of the two little convenience stores nearby. Both these places sell three grades of gasoline, all kinds of chips and snacks, some fishing tackle and a lot of beer--even some craft beers. But not so much wine.
“Woodbridge Cab might not have been his first choice if he were in a proper wine shop, but it seemed a safe pick under the circumstances. It was priced at $8.99—maybe a little more than what he’d pay in a larger store in town, but the immigrant storekeeper wasn’t able to buy pallet loads of wine to take advantage of a quantity discount.
“The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi evoked memories from the days when the late Robert Mondavi actually owned the Woodbridge operation, in addition to his more prestigious flagship winery at Oakville in the Napa Valley. These days anything bearing the Robert Mondavi name is now the province of the giant Constellation Brands, but it seemed likely that reasonably consistent quality had survived the change of ownership. It had. Though the current release of this wine is the 2016 vintage, a couple more years of age, shouldn’t have been—and wasn’t—a problem. The first sip seemed a tad sweet. Maybe this wasn’t a measurable sweetness, but the perception of a hint of sweetness was there. It was part of the favor profile that most wineries producing wine at this price would be shooting for. Subsequently, your reviewer adjusted to the taste and found dark cherry and blackberry aspects to its personality and was satisfied with his purchase.
“The following day brought a similar forgot-to-go-to-town-for-a-bottle-of-wine realization and he returned to the same convenience store. He could have grabbed another bottle of 2014 Woodbridge Cab, but spotted a bottle of Mendocino Zinfandel from an obscure winery whose Zins he enjoyed a decade or so earlier. It was $7.99, which seemed a real bargain for the quality expected. Closer inspection revealed a 2008 vintage date—way older than what you’d expect in the marketplace, but not so old as to guarantee it would be ‘over the hill.’ He took a chance and went for the old Zin—a mistake. He’d have been better off to buy another bottle of the Woodbridge. Hints of the complexities provided by those Mendocino Zinfandel grapes remained, but were they were overshadowed by a slight oxidation.
“The 2016 vintage of the Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon is widely available in the U.S. The 2014 was everything it was supposed to be—true to varietal type and personality and fairly priced. It wasn’t an exciting discovery, but it was a reliable example of what we expected it to be. Sometimes consistency trumps excitement.”
Food affinity: “Your reviewer enjoyed this wine with leftover roast beef and mashed potatoes.”