Wino Wally's 


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I belong to the Robert Mondavi Ensemble Club.  Membership in the Ensemble Club is free (they used to charge you for the privilege of belonging).  As a member, I receive four shipments of wine a year.  I have the option of receiving more than four shipments.  For example, I belong to the Rare Reds Club, which means that I receive four shipments a year of Rare Reds according to Mondavi.

I joined the Mondavi Ensemble Club because I am a sentimental-type guy.  Back in 1985, I attended a Mondavi wine-tasting seminar hosted by Schneiderís Wines of Capital Hill in Washington, DC.  I was a novice wino at the time, feeling my oats because I was single and the CFO of a company with a fresh IPO (and I was under 30 at the time, kind of an early dot-commer).  Mondaviís representative gave us a number of wines to taste including a vertical of the 1981, 1982 and 1983 Cabernet Reserves.  I remember buying a case of the 1983 Cabernet (not the reserve, I wasnít ready to plunk out that kind of money) and later buying a case of the 1984 Cabernet and the 1985 Cabernet.  During that time period, Mondavi was probably the only vintner whose product I purchased 12 bottles at a time.  Even more interesting, despite the fact that my ďcellarĒ during those days was an unfinished basement, I managed to slowly consume the cases, so slowly that only two years ago did I polish off the last bottle of the 1985 while on vacation at the beach with Wino John and his lovely wife.  Wino John seemed to enjoy the spirit, of course Wino John always enjoys a hearty big Cabernet!

Anyhow, Iíve managed to stay an Ensemble member by shipping my wine to a business address in West Virginia (since Maryland is as close to Nazi Germany as you can get with their felony charges for wine shipments).  Since changing the law doesnít seem to be on anyoneís agenda, I even purchased a mountainside estate in the land where sisters and brothers can marry (or something like that!).  Itís also easy to remain incognito as long as you donít wear a suit and tie!

Two weeks ago, I received my regular September shipment.  Included was a bottle of the 2001 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Zinfandel.  This was one of the yummiest Zinís that Iíve had in a while.  I liked it so much that I called Wino Mike and asked him to call his buddies at Schneiderís and see if they could hold a case.  Wino Mike called me back and said that he could only get 5 bottles.  Later in the week, I journeyed to the palatial New Jersey homestead of Wino John.  WJ took me to his Jersey connection, Nunzio the Wino, who said that he had not yet received the Mondavi 2001 Zinfandel (likely story, heís probably saving it for the special people).  On the way back from Wino Nunzioís, Wino John and I ran out of gas and had to hike up the lane to his house from the front gate.  Good thing we had a couple of bottles of other bold reds purchased from Nunzio and some cheese to tide us over during the journey! 

After returning to Baltimore, I called Mondavi and was able to order a case of the 2001 directly from Ensemble.  Winos, this is one wine worth joining the club for!  I paid $15.40 a bottle (memberís price) and know that Iíll enjoy consuming this one for years (ok, maybe months since S.A.W. Sharon really likes the yummy fruit taste of this baby). 

Wino Wally
Baltimore, MD
October 24, 2003



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