A Smashing Success for the Barrel Auction

It’s tough to have a bad day wandering the beautiful grounds of Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, but Friday’s barrel auction hit an all-time high note for picture-perfect weather, stunning wines and delicious food.

Two thousand attendees came to sample and bid on wines from 100 barrels inside the Charles Krug Redwood Cellar at Friday’s barrel auction, part of Auction Napa Valley.  The wines were almost all from the celebrated 2012 vintage and as a group wowed attendees with their depth, complexity and sheer deliciousness.  Amici’s barrel of 2012 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet was a huge hit with tasters, who bid more than $2,000 per case to get their hands on it.

Outside the barrel room, attendees wandered the Marketplace in the gorgeous weather, sipping white and rosé wines and tasting amazing bites of food cooked on site by the crème de la crème of Napa Valley’s restaurant and catering scene.  Yesterday’s barrel auction was an astounding success by any measure, and while the final numbers are not in yet, the unofficial word is that the charitable funds raised may be close to last year’s record of almost $1.7 million.  And to top that, things really kick into high gear later today with the live auction at Meadowood Resort, while the e-auction continues until Sunday.

The calm before the storm: minutes before attendees arrive.

The calm before the storm: minutes before attendees arrive.

Pouring at this year's barrel selection.

Pouring this year’s barrel selection.

Cooks from Meadowood prepare fresh spring peas for their dish at the Marketplace

Cooks from Meadowood prepare fresh spring peas for their dish at the Marketplace

The top bidder gets a commemorative signed barrel head.

The top bidder gets a commemorative signed barrel head.

Nothing matches the excitement of the barrel auction.

Nothing matches the excitement of the barrel auction.

Always a favorite, Woodhouse Chocolates presents samples of their amazing creations.

Always a favorite, Woodhouse Chocolates presented samples of their amazing creations.

The boards are full from generous bidders.

The boards are full from generous bidders.

The final bids are posted, the confetti has flown, and another great barrel auction comes to a close.

The final bids are posted, the confetti has flown, and another great barrel auction comes to a close.

Summer Whites to Pair with Your Summer Fun

iStock_000016498332_MediumThe official change from spring to summer may be a few weeks away, but around here summer has already arrived, if Mother Nature has anything to say about it. These beautiful warm days have us turning our attention to poolside cocktailing and summer entertaining with friends— in short, it has us thinking about sipping some cool white wines.

Joel blended 50% Sauvignon Musque clone into our 2012 Amici Napa Sauvignon Blanc, giving it tropical, round notes not found in some other leaner and greener examples of this varietal.  For our Olema Chardonnay, a portion of the blend was fermented in barrels for a rich, creamy texture with the remainder fermented in stainless steel which preserves the bright, vibrant fruit and crispness. The tropical fruit characteristics of the Russian River Valley fruit marry beautifully with the citrus and mineral notes from Sonoma Coast, giving the final blend a Burgundian style with California roots.

Great partners to virtually all summer foods, these wines are a perfect choice to pop open poolside when you’re enjoying the warm weather.  Here’s what the experts are saying about them:

Image 2012 Amici Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley

“An aromatic, extremely distinct Sauvignon. It is full bodied, round, and crisp and very long on the finish, with aromas/flavors reminiscent of pineapple, lemon peel, lemon grass, guava, and lime. Very fine quality.” — Restaurant Wine

“A smooth and juicy white, offering lemon curd, lime, peach and apple flavors, balanced by good intensity and accents of citrus zest on the finish.” — Wine Spectator

“More complex than most sauvignon blancs, this treat has fresh citrus and pineapple aromas with round tropical fruit, lemon and a dash of wet stone on the finish. That half the wine comes from the sauvignon musque clone is no surprise. Winemaker Joel Aiken has done a very nice job with this brand.” — Capital Gazette,

 Chard No Date2012 Olema Chardonnay Sonoma County
“A bold and assertive style, with rich, honey-laced melon, pear, apricot and fig flavors that are pure, focused and persistent.” — J.L., Wine Spectator

“Bright full yellow. Musky aromas of candied apple, nutmeg, honeysuckle and toasty oak, complicated by a leesy nuance. Round, sweet and ripe, with a savory aspect to the flavors of ripe apple, pineapple, toast and brown spice… Finishes with good lingering fruit. Remarkably inexpensive.” — S.T., International Wine Cellar

“This approachable chardonnay was fermented half in oak and half in stainless steel, giving the wine a crisp and refreshing acidity; apple and citrus notes balance the wine and bring a creamy quality to the finish.” — Beverage Dynamics

“…a wine with universal appeal, with bright pineapple, lemon-meringue pie and honeysuckle flavors.” — Wine Enthusiast

Gather Your Friends and Enjoy a Weekend in Napa Valley


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3 couples, 2 nights, 1 beautiful home, tons of great food and wine… it all adds up to one fantastic weekend!

Bidding opens today on our e-auction lot for the 2014 Auction Napa Valley, and you can join in for a chance to win a wonderful weekend of wine, food and fun.  Don’t worry if you can’t make it to Napa Valley for the auction — you can bid on this great lot from your own computer at home. Three couples will spend a weekend at Amici Cellars in Calistoga enjoying a vineyard tour, barrel tasting and gourmet lunch. The six of you will also enjoy a two day/two night stay in Amici’s beautiful winery guest house and join Amici co-owner John Harris for an insider’s look at Napa Valley winemaking.

ImageFrom your rooms at the guest house located in Jericho Canyon near Calistoga, you’ll wake up to the sun rising over the majestic Palisades Mountain Range. Then John will take you on an insider’s tour of the famous Morisoli Vineyard on the Rutherford Bench, followed by a barrel tasting of Amici’s single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. After your barrel tasting, you’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch and wine pairings prepared by Amici’s private chef. To top off your stay, you’ll receive six bottles each of Amici’s extremely limited production Cabernet Sauvignon from Spring Mountain District (200 cases produced), Gary Morisoli Vineyard (125 cases produced), and Oakville (100 cases produced) from the 2011 vintage.

Register here to take part in the online bidding.  Bidding for this one-of-a-kind wine lovers’ weekend opens today, June 1, and the e-gavel comes down on Sunday, June 8.

Review Roll-up: more from Spring 2014

Things are really buzzing these days!  We’re so pleased with the friendly comments that have greeted so many of our new, and even not-so-new, releases. Here’s what was being said out there about Amici wines this spring:

2010 Amici Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

91 Points. This classic Napa Cabernet (with a splash of Petit Verdot) is elegant, streamlined and absolutely lovely to drink now. It’s dry and balanced in acidity and tannins, and has rich layers of cassis, mocha, plums and toast.” — S.H., Wine Enthusiast

2010 Amici Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

“The Reserve is full bodied and intensely fruity; a rich, toasty, somewhat rugged wine with complex character and a long, tannic finish. It tastes of blackberry, cassis, cedar, toast, and spicy oak.” — Restaurant Wine

2010 Amici Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 

94 Points. A big, aromatic and very youthful wine from this great vineyard; vivid berry fruit with spice and vanilla oak; layered, complex and yet all of a piece; rich, generous and showing huge potential; don’t rush to drink it-time will make it even better.” — Tasting Panel Magazine

90 Points. Beefy with scents of black olive skin and tar, this is all tense tannins as a young wine. With air, its density begins to show a wild herb character, the power of the tannins needing five or six years to relent. This grows at a prime bench land site just south of Rubicon.” — Wine & Spirits

 2010 Amici Spring Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 

“92 points. Mountain-grown tannins provide some detail and complexity to this youthfully aggressive cabernet; they also completely dry out the mouth. Still hard after a day of air, they begin to allow red fruit to show in the middle, iron-like in its bloody redness, raspberry-like on its kinder side. There’s generosity to that fruit, and plenty of structure to carry this in the cellar for ten years or more.” — Wine & Spirits

2012 Amici Cellars Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

90 Points. Bright medium red. Aromas of raspberry, musky tobacco and herbs are lifted by a floral topnote. Offers lovely balance and intensity to its red berry and spice flavors. Harmonious acidity energizes this silky, expansive pinot. Lovely pinot fruit and length here, and the fine-grained tannins will not get in the way of enjoying this wine right now. I”d consume it over the next two or three years.” — S.T., International Wine Cellar

2012 Olema Pinot Noir Sonoma County

90 Points.  It’s rare to get a twenty buck Pinot Noir this good.  The wine is dry, silky and elegant, almost faultless in its precision.  With savory cherry, red licorice, cola and sandalwood flavors, it’s not an ager, but a very pretty wine for drinking now. Editors’ Choice.” — S.H., Wine Enthusiast

90 Points. Bright medium red. Aromas of cherry, raspberry, fresh herbs, rose petal and spicy oak. Less fat than the Russian River Valley bottling but with very good definition and lift to the high-pitched red fruit and spice flavors. Not a fat style but juicy and easygoing, finishing with good grip and lift. A terrific value in California pinot.” — S.T., International Wine Cellar

“Radiant ruby-magenta color; plums, mulberries and cranberries, brier rose; hints of cloves, rhubarb and pomegranate; dense, supple and satiny; ripe and lightly spiced red and blue fruit flavors; a few moments in the glass brirg in notes of roses and violets, leather and tobacco; undertones of graphite, earth and mild tannins. Really lovely. Now through 2016. Excellent. About $20, marking Great Value.” — Bigger Than Your Head

Review Roll-up March 2014

We’ve enjoyed some really flattering reviews of our wines over the last few months, and we’re happy to share them with our readers.

Restaurant Wine tasted four current releases and here’s what they had to say:

AMICI  2010  SPRING MOUNTAIN DISTRICT  **** (4 stars: “excellent”)
Very fine quality:  supple and very ripely flavored, with full body, good balance, and a long, mildly tannic finish. Combines fine fruitiness (plum, blueberry, violet, cassis) with smoky, toasty oak character. Can be aged. 11% Cabernet Franc. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 80% new. 200 cases.

AMICI  2010 MORISOLI VINEYARD RUTHERFORD  ****+ (4+ stars: “excellent+”)
Very ripe and rich in style, this is a powerful, near-jammy Cabernet with tremendous depth and length. It has rich blackberry, cherry, and plum fruitiness, and spicy, toasty, cedary oak overtones. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, 80% new. Very fine quality. 100 cases.

AMICI  2010  NAPA VALLEY  ***** (5 stars: “exceptional”)
Rich and ripely flavored, this is an impressive Cabernet, especially at the price. It is full bodied and very long on the palate, with a mildy tannic finish. In aroma/flavor, it tastes of cassis, tobacco, blackberry, plum jam, cedar, and toast. Remarkable Napa Cab value! 2% Petit Verdot. Aged 18-20 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. 4,200 cases.

AMICI  2012  NAPA VALLEY  ****+  (4+ stars: “excellent+”)
An aromatic, extremely distinct Sauvignon. It is full bodied, round, and crisp and very long on the finish, with aromas/flavors reminiscent of pineapple, lemon peel, lemon grass, guava, and lime. Very fine quality. 50% Sauvignon Musque. 10% aged in French oak barrels; 10% ML.

******

Steve Heimoff, meanwhile, featured our 2012 Olema Pinot Noir in his blog post from 3/7/14 as one of his “Top 10 Wines of the Week.”  “Anytime you can get a 90 point or above wine for $30 and under, you should grab it,” he says in the post.  We’re hoping that, at $20, the 2012 Olema Pinot Noir made it onto a few readers’ shopping lists.

******

Joe Roberts of 1WineDude blog fame included Amici in his “Best of the Best” blog write-up of February’s Premiere Napa Valley wine auction.  He says, “Ok, ok, I love these guys, they love me for talking about how much I love them, so we can just dispense with the formalities and enjoy the love-fest. If someone is making a Cab with better QPR than these guys, let me know (never mind, you can’t, because it ain’t happening). Fruit from Spring Mountain hath produced a most agreeable beverage here; in fact, a beautiful one. Dried herbs, dark fruit, tannic grip. One for a long haul, as I’m fond of saying, from people who know how to do it without charging you a mortgage payment for it.”  We’re blushing!

******

Fredric Koeppel, he of the funny-named but very professonally-written blog “Bigger Than Your Head,” included our 2010 Amici Cab Napa Valley in his Weekend Wine Notes survey of a handful of Napa Cabs. Common threads, he states, were wines that were relatively low in alcohol and where “the emphasis is mainly on structure rather than ripeness.”  He writes of the Amici 2010 Napa Cab:  “Dark ruby with a magenta-violet rim; black currants, raspberries and cherries, juicy, spicy, lots of graphite and lavender; that gratifying blend of ripe fruit and a rigorously tannic and mineral-tinged structure; oak providing a firm framework and foundation; lithe, almost sinewy, quite dry, even a little austere but lively, attractive, with an engaging personality. Now through 2018 to ’20. Excellent.”  Now that’s nice:  whether it’s in a blind date or in a wine, “lively, attractive and engaging” will keep anyone coming back for more!

New Release: Amici 2012 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

We’re happy to announce the release of the newest wine from Amici Cellars: the 2012 Amici Pinot Noir Russian River Valley.

There’s been a lot of buzz about the 2012 vintage for Pinot Noir from Sonoma County appellations: Robert Parker rated the vintage 93 points (“outstanding”), his highest rating ever since he started rating the vintages for this region in 1978. Wine Enthusiast, meanwhile, rated the 2012 vintage for Russian River Valley Pinot Noir a staggering 95 points (“superb”).

This wine certainly delivers on the promises of those enthusiastic ratings: Beautifully aromatic, the wine opens with a dazzling bouquet of rich raspberry and fragrant violets. On the palate, flavors of black cherry, raspberry and cola spice swirl around hints of earth. Velvety tannins lead to an excellent length on the finish, with a persistent core of fruit that lingers for minutes, not seconds. A true beauty of a wine, it is delicious now but will age well for 5-7 years.

You can find the 2012 Amici Pinot Noir Russian River Valley on our website.

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Amici’s Premiere Auction Lot Fetches a Record Price

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The bidding was hot at Premiere Napa Valley 2014 (photo by Bob McClenahan)

There were smiles all around yesterday as Amici’s 5-case Premiere Napa Valley Auction lot went for $28,000 after heated bidding.  The lot, 60 bottles of a limited production from a small block on Spring Mountain, was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from 2012, one of the best vintages in Napa Valley history.

It was yet another Napa Valley auction for the record books.  Hundreds of the wine industry’s biggest buyers gather each February for Premiere Napa Valley, a trade event which culminates with a Saturday afternoon auction of one-of-a-kind lots, and the wine is often destined for high-end retail wine shops or restaurants.  Almost all of the barrels at the Saturday morning barrel tasting before the auction were from the stellar but yet-to-be-released 2012 vintage, and clearly the wine experts in the room were excited about the opportunity to get their hands on these wines.  Bidding was heated for many lots and there were hoots and hollers from the crowd as paddles flew and bidders competed against each other, pushing certain lots sky-high.

At the end of the day, a whopping $5.9 million was raised (a sizable leap from the 2012 record of $3.1 million).  It was an exciting day for all, and today everyone in Napa is feeling very thankful for the support of those generous bidders.

2013 Harvest Boot Camp with Amici Cellars

amicicellars:

Here’s a great blog post from Total Wine on the Harvest Boot Camps we hosted last fall. If you work in the wine industry and want to join in the fun and hard work next fall, just let us know!

Originally posted on Total Wine & More:

When you work inside a retail wine shop, your exposure to the wine industry is a bit one-sided.  We see a skillfully crafted, finished product.  A beautiful wine, inside a beautiful package, that customers pick up for a variety of reasons.  It is a package that elicits a wide range of emotions and caters to varied tastes and desires.

That, of course, is just one side of the wine equation.  Behind the scenes, there is an incredible amount of planning, scrambling, organizing, cooperating, praying and hard work. I was part of a small group from Total Wine & More invited to experience this other side at the Amici Cellars’ “Harvest Boot Camp” in Calistoga, Ca.

For a week, six of us joined the Amici crew to participate in the 2013 harvest.  We contributed our labor and lived the winery life alongside owners, winemakers and interns.

(L to R) Rebecca Davidson…

View original 1,126 more words

Announcing our Newest Pinot Noir — It’s a Game Changer!

What are you used to paying for that killer Pinot Noir from Sonoma that you love so much? $40? $50?  What if we told you that you could have a Pinot that good (maybe better) for $20? Seriously.

ImageAnnouncing the newest member of the Amici family: the 2012 Olema Pinot Noir. This is some exciting stuff: a Sonoma Pinot Noir for $20 that tastes fantastic? That’s a game changer. We promise you, this wine competes way above its weight class. A blend of 80% Pinot Noir grapes from Russian River Valley with 20% from premier vineyards in Sonoma County, this Pinot features the classic Russian River Valley characteristics of perfumed aromas and bright, focused red fruit flavors framed by delicate tannins.

That perfect 2012 vintage has created some of the best Pinot Noirs to come out of Sonoma County. The 2012 Olema Pinot Noir opens with a burst of beautiful berries intertwined with sweet florals on the nose. Flavors of cherry, cola and raspberry with a hint of sweet vanilla and a silky smooth mouthfeel make it a deliciously drinkable wine.

If you want to check it out for yourself, you can find it on our website.

A New Look for Olema

Over the next several months, wine stores across the country will be unveiling a brand new label for our Olema wines.  For the uninitiated, Olema is Amici’s sister brand showcasing excellent quality wine at friendly prices, and it has gained a tremendous following over the last couple years. We thought that it was only fitting that a rising star like Olema get a makeover suitable to its pedigree:  and so, violà, a brand new look:

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The new look!

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…and the previous label.

How did we end up with a wine named “Olema” anyway, you ask? Good question. While Amici’s primary focus is on showcasing the best of Napa Valley, Olema looks to celebrate Sonoma. The name Olema, which means “coyote” in Miwok, honors the Coast Miwok Native Americans who lived along the Sonoma Coast and in northern Marin County. Olema wines feature fresh, vibrant flavors and excellent value.