Wines Under $20 - The story behind this wine would make a great movie!

At $18.99, this week’s Wines Under $20 selection is a steal. It’s the Robert Mondavi, 2014 Private Selection Pinot Noir. You can find it at Cristall Wine Merchants in Sunnyside Mall in Bedford. If you buy it, open it up a couple of hours before you plan to drink it or decant it if you can. That will allow the wine to open up so you can get all of the nutmeg, cherry and vanilla from the nose. Raise the glass to your mouth and you’ll taste tart cherry followed by strawberries and spice.

Every wine has a story and the Robert Mondavi story is absolutely Shakespearean in scope. To boil it down to just a few lines, his parents arrived at Ellis Island from Italy dirt poor but managed to build an empire in the fruit business in California and then opened a winery after prohibition ended. The family empire began to quickly show cracks following the death of Robert Mondavi’s father when Robert and his brother Peter literally came to blows. Robert left the family business to start his own winery with his children.

The opening of the Robert Mondavi Winery is arguably the most important event in the history of California wine making. From the very first vintage (1966), the Mondavi Winery produced wines that stood for everything that the California wine industry hoped to one day become; great wines, outstanding marketing, and superior science. The success of the winery did nothing for family unity. There were court battles that drained bank accounts and vows never to speak to each other again.

With mounting debts, the Robert Mondavi Winery went public in the 1990’s but allowing the average wine drinker to buy stock in the winery couldn’t save the business and, in his 80’s, Robert Mondavi saw all that he had worked for wrestled away from him by his own board of directors. The winery was sold to a company called Constellation Brands. Robert Mondavi died in 2008 at the age of 94.