Marc Mondavi and Family Present Aloft

The Mondavis and Napa are Inextricably Linked.

The Charles Krug winery is one of the most famous Mondavi family wineries.

Many members of the Mondavi Family have been involved in the California wine industry for generations. Their two largest and best-known wineries are Charles Krug, part of the Peter Mondavi family, and the Robert Mondavi Winery, which was started by Peter’s brother Robert. While these are tentpoles in Napa Valley, various Mondavi family members have started and maintained all sorts of other projects of varying scope.

One of those projects is Aloft,. created by Marc Mondavi and his family. Marc, one of Peter’s sons, conceived this wine with the help of his wife and daughters. All of the fruit comes from their own Cold Springs Vineyard, which sits on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. I recently sat down with Marc’s daughter Alycia and tasted the 2009 vintage of Aloft.

Aloft 2009 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($150)

This wine is entirely Cabernet Sauvignon. A mere 300 cases were produced; it’s available in 3 packs for $450. Aloft opens with a big and somewhat boisterous nose loaded with kirsch liqueur, ripe wild strawberry, and bits of clove. The palate is stuffed to the brim with an avalanche of unadulterated fruit flavors. Blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, and cherry are all in play here. Minerals, black tea, wisps of earth, and a touch of chicory are in evidence on the prodigiously long and impressive finish. Firm tannins yield with some air. No doubt this is a big wine, but proportionately so. It never strays over the top; rather, it maintains terrific balance. Not priced for everyday drinking, but an excellent wine for those collecting great Cabernet Sauvignons.

It’s not news that Napa Valley is home to a tremendous amount of excellent Cabernet Sauvignon in a far-ranging number of styles and prices. The flavor profiles vary based depending on both grower and winemaker. Most important, however, is their point of origin. Many of my favorite Cabernets from Napa are produced from mountain fruit. There is an intense purity of expression in mountain fruit that is worlds apart from valley floor fruit. Aloft certainly falls into that category for me. This is a really impressive expression of Cabernet that, while delicious now, will benefit from some additional time in the bottle.

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Since I tasted this offering, the 2010 vintage has been released, so grab some if you can. This wine is another sign that the Mondavi Family will continue to be an important part of Napa Valley for many generations.