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Isabel Mondavi Deep Rose 2012
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.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.
The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
Whether it’s playful and fun or savory and serious, most rosé today is not your grandmother’s White Zinfandel, though that category remains strong. Pink wine has recently become quite trendy, and this time around it’s commonly quite dry. It is produced throughout the world from a vast array of grape varieties, but the most successful sources are California, southern France (particularly Provence), and parts of Spain and Italy.
Since the pigment in red wines comes from keeping fermenting juice in contact with the grape skins for an extended period, it follows that a pink wine can be made using just a brief period of skin contact—usually just a couple of days. The resulting color will depend on the grape variety and the winemaking style, ranging from pale salmon to deep magenta. These wines are typically fresh and fruity, fermented at cool temperatures in stainless steel to preserve the primary aromas and flavors. Most rosé, with a few notable exceptions, should be drunk rather young, within a few years of the vintage.