Animo by Michael Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Seeking vineyards that would form the foundation of his family estate, Michael Mondavi zeroed-in on a particularly rugged, Manzanita-dotted parcel high on Atlas Peak in the Vaca Mountain range of southeastern Napa Valley. As Michael surveyed the site with his family, his daughter Dina remarked, "Dad, this place has animo."
Animo is an Italian word for heart or spirit. In the family’s experience, some vineyards have it, and some don’t - a pervading spirit that presents the opportunity of producing something that is truly exceptional. An experienced vintner recognizes the dormant energy of such a site before it has even been planted, its potential evident in the raw material, from the soil to the curvature of the land and sun exposures.
Michael Mondavi sensed the potential of Animo at first sight, and the continually developing wines that are produced here have spirit to spare. The Animo Vineyard is planted to a mere 15 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines in soil composed of a relatively uniform rocky volcanic tufa infused with red streaks of iron. The vines climb from an elevation of 1,200 to 1,350 feet on the slope of Atlas Peak, overlooking Napa Valley. At this elevation, the grapes enjoy a protracted growing season, and harvest generally extends well into October. Variations in elevation and sun exposure require numerous picking passes at harvest time. The attention paid to each individual vine is reflected in the quality of the finished wine.
Just northeast of Napa city, Atlas Peak boasts some of Napa Valley’s highest elevation vineyards. Here the intense sunlight coupled with cool, nighttime temperatures produce grapes that are perfectly ripe, balanced and concentrated. The appellation is rich in volcanic soils and excels in the production of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys success all over the globe, its best examples showing potential to age beautifully for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in Bordeaux's Medoc where it is often blended with Merlot and smaller amounts of some combination of Cabernet Franc, Malbecand Petit Verdot. In the Napa Valley, ‘Cab’ is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious, age-worthy and sought-after “cult” wines. Somm Secret—DNA profiling in 1997 revealed that Cabernet Sauvignon was born from a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc in 17th century southwest France.