Lagier Meredith, Mondeuse 2017
Mondeuse｜Mount Veeder, Napa Valley
Originally hailing from the alpine slopes of Savoie in northeastern France, Mondeuse Noire is a rare and ancient varietal, considered one of the granddaddy grapes from which many contemporary grapes are derived. As co-proprietor Dr. Carole Meredith puts it, “Mondeuse Noire is the genetic equivalent of Syrah’s uncle.”
Dr. Meredith is an accomplished professor of viticulture with over two decades experience working in the vineyard and a damn fine steward of the property along with her husband Steve Lagier, who spent 14 years making wine at Mondavi before striking out on his own. The 2017 vintage was Steve’s 37th consecutive vintage in Napa!
Dr. Meredith’s contribution to the wine world is hugely significant. In 2001, she and a group of Croatian researchers discovered what might be the last nine vines of what’s considered the original Zinfandel rootstock, also called Crljenak Kaštelanski – wine’s equivalent to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their four years of painstaking research shows definitively that Zinfandel’s origins stem from the Dalmatian coast, going back to at least the 14th century. Fast forward to the present day, Dr. Meredith and her partner Steve Lagier own a property on Mount Veeder, part of Napa’s Mayacamas range sitting at over 1300 feet elevations, where they craft rugged expressions of Napa mountain fruit from both "mainstream" and more rare varietals alike, including this deliciously complex Mondeuse.
Instantly aromatic and inviting, this is a deeply spicy, plush red. Notes of violets, black raspberry, graphite, and black pepper leap from the glass. In the reliably warm climate of Napa it can be difficult to coax such old-world spicy character. In fact, tasted blind I could be convinced this was a Rhône Syrah from Cornas or Hermitage on account of the pencil-lead, peppery qualities. It also has that certain rugged, mountainous edge to it with all the forest-berry fruit one expects from Mondeuse.
This is every bit a world-class mountain red on par with the finest you'll find, capable of long aging and immediate pleasure both. Only 78 cases made for the world!