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Isabel Mondavi Chardonnay 2011
The Isabel Mondavi Chardonnay is an ideal complement to a variety of dishes thanks to its lively acidity, layered fruit, and impeccable balance. Pair with white meats, baked fish, and cheeses made from cow or goat milk.
These words embody Isabel Mondavi's joie de vivre - and the panache she used to fashion her own brand - I'M Wines.
Named for her initials, I'M Wines was created after Isabel asked her son Rob, a winemaker, to make a Rosé from the family's Cabernet Sauvignon to serve at her weekly luncheon for a group of friends. Isabel expected 20 cases; Rob gave her 300, presenting both a problem and a solution. Though the lunch gathering could not hope to drink the entire production, the wine was impressive enough to make a name for itself on the market. Thus, the label was born. In addition to I'M Rosé, it includes I'M Chardonnay, with a Pinot Noir in the works.
Armed with nearly 40 years of experience as a close witness and advisor to the wine business, Isabel refused to be encumbered by industry standards when creating her label. Her Napa Valley Cabernet is pink, not the traditional deep red. She didn't stop there. Since she is a fan of Sonoma County Chardonnay, Rob has made her one in the style she loves best.
Every aspect of the brand is family based. Dina, Isabel's daughter, worked with her mother and a designer to create the label and the aesthetics of the bottle. The unusual use of a Bordeaux shape for the Chardonnay bottle was chosen by Dina because Isabel finds it easier to pour.
Known for elegant wines that combine power and finesse, Carneros is set in the rolling hills that straddle the southernmost parts of both Sonoma and Napa counties. Its close proximity to the San Francisco Peninsula and the San Pablo Bay is instrumental in controlling the climate of the area. The winds from the San Pablo Bay create a cooling effect ideal for producing wines with crisp acidity and balanced flavors.
This cooler pocket of California lends itself to growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and more recently, Old-World style Syrah. While more delicate than most wines from neighboring regions, these are firmly structured, complex, and full of flavor. Carneros is also an important source of sparkling wines made in the style of Champagne.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.