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Isabel Mondavi Chardonnay 2012
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
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. The cooling winds from the abutting San Pablo Bay, combined with lots of midday California sunshine, create an ideal environment for producing wines with a perfect balance of crisp acidity and well-ripened fruit.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy 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. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.