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Wine Blog

Tom Markakis
September 7, 2022 | Tom Markakis

2018 M

The M by Michael Mondavi Family is truly one of my favorite wines to serve and to share with others. It reminds me of how the great Napa Cabernet Sauvignons once were – well balanced, dry and suitable for ageing. The M's excellence is recognizable to the most discerning palates and to novices alike. It is exceptional with food or marvelous on its own, there is rarely a time when this wine doesn’t fit the situation.

The first vintage was 2005 which marked Michael Mondavi’s return to winemaking after more than 30 years. The wine is stylistically similar to the legendary Mondavi Cabernets crafted by Michael in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Today the wine is evolving to embrace the influence of Rob Mondavi Jr and Sabrina Massola who have been crafting the wine together for several vintages.  The M has consistently scored 90 points or higher with all the wine writers - and 100 points with me!

The 2018 M carries on the tradition and the scores, with a new sleek look. The original M label was created by former Gucci designer, Karen Joyce, and captures the terroir of Animo through an artistic interpretation of the vineyard roots and soil. The new label is eye catching gold foil, and symbolizes the deep roots that the Mondavi family has in Napa Valley, as well as those of the vines on Atlas Peak.

The 2018 growing season was mild, which led to overall high quality and quantity, much like 2016 did. The wine is fresh, with aromas of plum and notes of roasted hazelnut at the core of the bouquet. On the palate, a medium body and soft textures mingle with delicate and refined flavors of dark red fruits, tobacco and spice to offer a seamless finish to the wine.

M is a reflection of Michael’s vision for great wine – complex and subtle, made to be enjoyed with a meal, revealing itself slowly over time and inviting you back for a second glass.



Tom Markakis - Hospitality Manager & Estate Sommelier

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Time Posted: Sep 7, 2022 at 4:00 PM Permalink to 2018 M Permalink
Tom Markakis
June 20, 2022 | Tom Markakis

Cookout Classics

The Michael Mondavi Family Wines are welcome additions to almost any meal. However, as cookout season approaches, I thought about the which wines would be both crowd friendly, and sophisticated enough to please a variety of palates. Two wines quickly came to mind – Emblem Chardonnay and M by Michael Mondavi.

The 2019 Emblem Rodgers Creek Chardonnay has fresh aromas of honeysuckle, peach, and vanilla. On the palate it is rich with hints of apricot, honeydew, and lemon curd with lightly toasted oak and minerality to balance the finish. It doesn’t undergo malolactic fermentation, so it’s certain to surprise the “Anything But Chardonnay” crowd. This wine is a perfect match for summertime favorites like Caprese salad made with fresh garden tomatoes, basil and burrata. Or try it with grilled shrimp and skewered vegetables.

The 2016 M by Michael Mondavi was the first vintage that was comprised of less than 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the percentage needed to label a wine by its varietal. When winemaker Rob Mondavi Jr and Assistant Winemaker, Sabrina Massola, created the blend, they were inspired by a some of their favorites like Opus One, Dominus and Continuum, which all have significant amounts of Cabernet Franc in the mix. When they presented it to Michael, he loved it, but was surprised by the amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. The question became are we trying to create the best Cabernet Sauvignon or best wine?

The answer: the 2016 M. It is an outstanding wine that continues to reveal itself overtime. Aromas of black cherry, dates, and toasted vanilla bean rise from the glass. On the palate, it is silky and firm with an evolution of flavors like candied figs, brambleberry, and cocoa-covered strawberries. This wine pairs perfectly with grilled steaks and burgers, pulled pork and smoked duck. And be sure to save a glass for your homemade S’mores at the end of the night!



Tom Markakis - Hospitality Manager & Estate Sommelier

Acquire Featured Wines 

Time Posted: Jun 20, 2022 at 10:00 AM Permalink to Cookout Classics Permalink
Tom Markakis
April 20, 2022 | Tom Markakis

Perfect Pairing

As the Hospitality Manager and Estate Sommelier for Michael Mondavi Family I have the enviable task of tasting through our collection of wines and curating menus with the culinary team at Brasswood Estate to pair with them. Recently I treated a small group of friends and colleagues to a sumptuous luncheon featuring two outstanding library wines from highly acclaimed vintages in the Napa Valley.

The first was the 2013 Animo Cabernet Sauvignon paired with crispy mozzarella stuffed arancini atop slow roasted duck Bolognese sauce. The wine showed a vibrant fruitiness, which contrasted the salty crunch of the arancini. The richness of the duck Bolognese was matched by hints of tobacco and the lengthy finish of the wine. Although this Cabernet has potential for further ageing, I recommend enjoying a bottle now – why wait?!

For the main course we indulged with the 2014 M by Michael Mondavi served alongside homemade herb infused pappardelle pasta and short rib sugo with slow cooked carrots, mushrooms and cipollini onions. This pairing seamlessly brought together the silky texture of the wine with the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of the short rib. The fresh herbs in the pappardelle accentuated concentrated notes of plum and black cherry in the wine. The M was magnificent! It’s no surprise that James Suckling scored it 97 points. Although, I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for this wine which can easily mature for several more years.

We were unanimously captivated by these wines but split on which one we liked best. Some of us preferred the complex elegance of the 2014 M while the others thought that the 2013 Animo Cabernet with its lengthy finish stole the show. You'll have to get one of each and decide for yourself! 



Tom Markakis - Hospitality Manager & Estate Sommelier

Acquire Featured Wines


Time Posted: Apr 20, 2022 at 2:16 PM Permalink to Perfect Pairing Permalink

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