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March 26, 2015

Continuum 2012

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The 2012 and 2013 vintages in Napa are emerging as all time classics, with parallels being drawn to the 2009 and 2010 vintages in Bordeaux. Parker claims, ‘Both vintages are clearly the two greatest years for North Coast Bordeaux varietals – and probably Chardonnay as well – since the wonderful duo of 2001 and 2002.’  As such we are delighted to be able to offer the incredibly rare Continuum Proprietary Red.

The Mondavi family pervasively form part of California wine-making tapestry. They are responsible for the truly great Californian wine Opus One, originally formed as a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Mouton Rothschild. Continuum represents a celebration of the family’s rich history in Napa Valley, heralding from a single estate; no second wine is made. Continuum, as the name suggests, is a partnership between Robert Mondavi’s children, Tim and Marcia and Tim’s four children, Robert was the founding partner.

The vision is clear, so is the family’s intent, to make a single proprietary red wine to rival Opus One and to be recognized as one of the world’s great wines. Antonio Galloni says that, ‘Tim Mondavi’s Bordeaux blend hasn’t missed a beat in recent vintages’. The 2012 is a magnificent effort, scoring 96 points from Galloni and Stephen Tanzer. Therefore, Continuum has received an equal score as Opus One 2012, which is due to release on September 1st at around £900 per case of six bottles. Tanzer agrees, saying the 2012 ‘Promises to be the best vintage yet from this superb estate.’  Unlike Opus One, which produces 20,000 cases per year, in 2012 Continuum produced only 2,700. Since 2005 Continuum has average 94.5 points, an amazing achievement that betters Opus One during the same period, which averages 94.25 points!

Continuum was founded in 2005, its first vintage, made entirely from purchased grapes. However, Tim Mondavi always envisioned producing a wine from his own estate grapes. In 2008, they purchased Cloud View vineyards on top of the famous Pritchard Hill vineyard. “After searching three years for the perfect soil, climate and aspect, we now have a great site suited to our commitment of establishing a wine estate recognized among the finest in the world.” Tim Mondavi said. “It is important to us that my father had seen and blessed this site.” In addition, in 2008 Tim and his children planted the first continuum vineyard vines. Pritchard Hill is special, boasting terroir rich in iron from the volcanic soil. What makes the 2012 so special is that it is the first vintage to derive 100% from Pritchard Hill!

The 62 acre hilltop property is a far cry from the valley floor, cited at 1,300 to 1,600 feet, a perfect setting for the Cabernet Sauvignon; the 2012 vintage is a heady blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Aside from the glorious soil its position is above the fog line, resulting in warmer days and cooler afternoon temperatures, the result of which is ripe grapes which retain their acidity. Pritchard Hill is becoming the family’s crown jewel, after all, vines have been planted in the vineyard since the 1880′s and two of Napa’s seven recognised cult wines, Bryant family and Colgin are located nearby. In fact their Pritchard Hill property is cited next to Chappellet.

The Mondavi family are expending all of their savoire-faire, balancing classic techniques with modern innovation. Continuum is aged in 100% new French oak, all grapes are hand harvested, hand sorted and passed through a gravity tank into small oak tanks where it is fermented. The Mondavi family’s penchant for Bordeaux is apparent here, but the racking (refining the wine through a process settling the sediment) regime is more akin to Burgundy, with just three to four rackings before bottling without fining or filtration.

For all these reasons Continuum is a wine to start collecting now, it is nearly impossible to source vintages older than two years, such is its demand and rarity. Of course a wine of this prestige sells out on release and rises in price quickly, if one can source a case, as demonstrated in the table below:

Vintage AG Score Price 6s POP Score
2012 96 £625 78
2011 92 £660 110
2010 96 £720 90
2009 95+ £690 89
2008 95 £780 104
2007 94 £1,260 180
2006 93 £1,020 157
2005 95 n/a n/a

 

The bottle is also special, reflecting the Mondavi family’s passion. The label is called the ‘Light of the Vine’, based on a painting by Chiara Mondavi, Tim’s daughter. Her painting shadows an old Cabernet Franc vine Tim planted 25 years ago, its silhouette is captured on canvas and this glorious bottle! Continuum has allowed Tim Mondavi to come full circle continuing his father’s legacy. “It is also interesting to know that one can physically locate our new property by drawing a straight line from the tower of Robert Mondavi Winery, through the crown of Opus One, to a place just above the ridge line on the eastern hills above Oakville. Continuum has found a home on Pritchard Hill.”

Mondavi Continuum Proprietary Red 2012, 6×75 – £625 IB or £764.76 incl duty and VAT

Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media, 96 Points
Ripe, silky tannins wrap around the palate in the 2012 Continuum. Bright red cherry, plum, spice, menthol and hard candy meld together effortlessly in the glass. The 2012 captures the polished, refined side of the vintage. This is perhaps the most refined wine I have ever tasted from Continuum. The flavors are bright and focused, while the new oak has been decidedly toned down, both of which allow the personality of these breathtaking hillsides sites to shine. The 2012 is the first Continuum to be made entirely with estate grown fruit. Drink 2017 – 2032
Stephen Tanzer, 96 Points
(78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, & 5% Petit Verdot) Bright, dark ruby-red. Urgent crushed blueberry and cassis aromas are complemented by licorice and wild herbs on the brooding nose and palate (“a noble baby,” says Mondavi). Extremely young but already utterly seamless, delivering an uncanny combination of density and finesse. Compellingly lush and pure, with serious underlying power currently masked by sweet fruit. Really wonderfully managed tannins here. Promises to be the best vintage yet from this superb estate. ($200) 

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