Just A Few Cases For Mom

5 mins read

By Celia Strong

Imagine coming from a wine family that can decide to make just a few cases for mom. Once you’re in the wine business, all kinds of opportunities can arise, and if you’re in the winemaking end of the business, own vineyards in some of the best locations in California, have your own skills plus contacts for anything and everything needed, producing a few special cases for mom can be done – and it might grow into a brand that can be shared with families (and moms) across the country. 

Robert Mondavi Sr. is a name all wine lovers know. He’s an icon in the American wine business, and his family has continued to be a part of the industry through the generations – his son Michael, along with Michael’s wife, Isabel, and their children, Rob Jr. and Dina, in particular. This part of the family owns some superb vineyard land in Napa Valley, from which they produce some excellent – and expensive – Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition, they have the small-production Isabel Mondavi brand, which produces a Chardonnay, a pinot noir, and a relatively new rosé. This is the brand which the family geared to “a few cases for Mom” as an expression of her style – casual, elegant and sophisticated. And, decidedly, wines to go with food. 

The Isabel Rosé is made in a Provençal style, meaning dry, crisp, minerally and fruity. Holding true to their Napa roots, this wine is based on Cabernet Sauvignon with some Barbera to link it to their Italian heritage. (Their great grandparents came to the United States from the Marche region of Italy.) The label is silk screened, a copy of a filigree pattern from a family heirloom bracelet. Dina, Isabel’s daughter, handles the packaging and blending. Rob Jr., her son, is winemaker and cellar manager. Husband Michael is head of the cheerleading squad for these wines. 

The 2017 growing season was near perfect. After the four previous years of drought, bud-break was in mid-March and light rains through April kept late frosts away from the vines. A warm May brought life to the vineyards, and melting snows ran downhill to keep everything moist. There were no major heat spikes over the summer, allowing the grapes to ripen well. Harvest was in August, relatively early for California. 

This wine is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Barbera. Cabernets tend to make a savory style rosé wine. They have lots of deep ruby color and some red wine flavors – bell peppers, cherries, black pepper and black currant. They have enough body to pair well with many styles of food, and a crisp acidity. In general, rosé wines from Cabernet are some of the best. One made by one of the highest-rated producers of Napa Cabernet should be, for sure. Barbera brings its own identity to this wine. Unoaked Barbera leans toward red fruit flavors (red cherries, red currants, sour cherries and red plums) and a brisk spiciness, an herbaceous quality, and licorice or fennel. Grown in California, this variety has moderate body, compared to Italian Barbera, and slightly more alcohol. 

Isabel Rosé is light pink-salmon colored. Its fresh and clean style comes with aromatics of strawberry, cranberry, cherries, ripe pears and roses. Medium-bodied, its flavors roll through your mouth in layers of complexities. Bright acidity lingers in its long finish. Isabel and her family recommend drinking this wine in a full-bowled glass, a red wine glass, in order to get the entire aroma and flavor profile. Enjoy it with anything from California cuisine to spicy Asian meals, seafood and shellfish or just about anything you like – the whole point of a good rosé. Just right for Mom. For $14.99. Enjoy. . 

Celia Strong works at Bill’s Liquor & Fine Wines on Lady’s Island.

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