Wine Advocate 92 points - This iconic winery in Oakville has meant so much to not only me, but wine lovers throughout the United States. However, Robert Mondavi’s 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is somewhat of a disappointment. Made from a final blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, it is a somewhat restrained, mid-weight effort that finishes narrowly and abruptly on the palate. I even asked the Napa Valley Vintners’ Association (where my tastings were being held) to open a second bottle, and it was identical to the first. Red fruits, earth, incense, black currants and a hint of mint were all present, and while this cuvee is very good, it is not at the level of achievement one expects of this great brand and winery. Fully mature, yet capable of lasting another 10-15 years, this wine would benefit from more stuffing, complexity and gravitas.
Cool temperatures through spring and summer, coupled with wet weather during bloom, led to a light Cabernet Sauvignon crop with small berries and great flavor concentration. Although rainfall was average (36”), 40% fell in December, and spring was relatively dry. August was cooler than normal, followed by wide diurnal swings (hot days and cold nights), and very low humidity in September. Flavor maturity in the grapes lagged behind sugar accumulation (Brix), so we judiciously delayed until the flavors matured. Although harvest was a nail-biter, the Cabernet Sauvignon wines blossomed in the winery.