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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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.

When a Cigar is Just a Cigar…or, wait — is it a Glass of Wine?

When a Cigar is Just a Cigar...or, wait — is it a Glass of Wine?

If there’s one thing Joe Roberts’ wine blog “1WineDude” has is personality, and it’s something he recognizes in each of the wines he tastes as well. This guy’s amusing mini-reviews feature one-liners, often about the personality of each wine. Above are are his mini-reviews of some Amici wines from the 1WineDude blog post of Dec 30, 2013.  He likens our 2010 Olema Cab to a good cigar…hmmm, not a connection we’d ever made, but sure, okay.  But if he thinks our 2010 Amici Cab is “sexy, plush and not shy about flaunting it” we’ll happily agree!

Wine Enthusiast’s “2013 Best of Year” Issue

We were excited to hear that we have four wines featured in Wine Enthusiast’s “2013 Best of the Year” issue.  Here’s what they had to say:

Amici 2010 Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon, 94 points
Best of Year issue, Dec. 2013:
Winemaker Joel Aiken was lucky enough to source fruit from this famous Napa Valley appellation, and its mountain origins show in both the intensity of flavors and of tannins. The fruit is remarkably concentrated in cassis, with a tangy minerality that must come from the soil. New French oak, with its tannins and sweet toast, has been perfectly applied. The wine is vital, harmonious and young. Give it 10 or 15 years to begin to come around. Cellar Selection.—S.H.

Amici 2010 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 94 points
Best of Year issue, Dec. 2013:
This 100% Cabernet is nowhere ready to drink now. The individual parts are all at odds with each other. You have intense flavors of cassis, blackberries, mocha and minerals, on the one hand. Then there’s the new French oak, toasty and sweet. Finally are tannins, from both grape skins and oak, that are so tough, they shut down the palate. But the structure is so perfect, the balance so harmonious, that the wine should easily negotiate the next 10, 15, 20 years. Cellar Selection—S.H.

Amici 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 93 points
Best of Year issue, Dec. 2013:
This wine is delicious and impeccable. It defines the modern Napa style, with beautifully etched flavors and a fine balance. The fruit is intensely ripe, suggesting blackberries, currants, licorice and dark chocolate, girded with the smoke and spices of new French oak. It’s a fancy wine to drink now with your best Cabernet-friendly food, but will change and improve with at least eight years in a good cellar. Cellar Selection—S.H.

Amici Sauvignon Blanc 2012, 87 points
Best of Year issue, Dec. 2013:
Blended with 50% Sauvignon Musque that gives it a distinctly floral note, this wine has just a touch of oak, which gives it some smoky toastiness. It’s quite tart in citrusy acidity that gets the mouth watering. Flavorwise, the lemon, lime, and guava flavors have a strong cut of tart, green gooseberries. —S.H.

While You’re in Town: Hike Calistoga’s Newest Trail

LOHMT_trail_trees_sky_higherHere’s one for the “While You’re in Town” file:  the next time you’re visiting our winery, take a few hours to hike the Oat Hill Mine Trail, an historic carriage and mining road in Calistoga.

As a visitor, there’s so much fun to be had in the upper Napa Valley just by spending your days eating and drinking that it’s easy to overlook another draw of our region:  the miles of beautiful hiking trails that meander through unspoiled forests and mountains surrounding the valley vineyards.  This weekend the Lower Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga will be dedicated as the most recent portion of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.  For those unfamiliar with the Bay Area Ridge Trail, this admirable project seeks to create a continuous 550+-mile trail for hikers, mountain bicyclists, and equestrians along the ridgelines surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area.  With 340+ miles of trails on the Ridge Trail already open, the Lower Oat Hill Mine Trail adds 4.5 miles to that growing total.

The Ridge Trail website describes the beauty of the Lower Oat Hill Mine Trail best:  “This 4.5 mile trail follows an historic carriage and mining road, crossing seasonal creeks as it climbs through oak woodlands and chaparral, offering clear views of the Napa Valley and Mt. St. Helena.”  The Lower Oat Hill Mine Tail connects with the Palisades Trail, which wanders along those stunning Palisades cliffs visible from our winery guest house.  Time to grab those hiking boots!

When Parker Reviews Napa

Whether or not you agree with the amount of influence wielded by the 800-pound gorilla of our industry, the fact is that Robert Parker still remains a force.  And so when Parker published his largest ever compilation of Napa Valley reviews last week, even his critics sat up and noticed.  We at Amici certainly did, and we’re thrilled that he had such nice things to say about our wines.  Here is what Parker says about our current releases:

2010 Amici Cellars Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon  “The dense ruby/purple-colored 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Morisolli from Rutherford boasts a stunning perfume of blueberries, black raspberries, acacia flowers and spice. This rich, layered 2010 is the most complete and impressive wine of this quartet. Still youthful, it will benefit from several more years of bottle age, and should drink well for two decades. Impressive!  93 Points”

2010 Amici Cellars Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon  “The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District, an inky/ruby/purple-colored wine exhibiting notes of licorice, graphite and black currants, offers a classic display of fruit, body, texture and structure. None of the famed floral/blueberry characteristics that often come from Spring Mountain have yet emerged, but this wine is fresh and vibrant with plenty of energy and richness. Enjoy this successful 2010 over the next 15-20 years.  90+ Points”

2010 Amici Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley  “The deep ruby/plum/purple-tinged 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa offers notes of cassis, blueberries, graphite and toasty vanillin. A nicely proportioned, medium to full-bodied, seriously endowed, elegant, restrained wine with admirable purity, it can be drunk now or cellared for 10-15 years.  90 Points”

2010 Amici Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley  “The black label 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve reveals beautiful cedary, black currant fruit, a well-integrated touch of toasty vanillin, medium to full-bodied flavors, sweet tannin and a fleshy, opulent mouthfeel. Approachable now, it has the richness to last 10-15 years.  88 Points”

Parker also had important comments to make on Napa as a wine-growing region.  He says, “… world class quality from Napa Valley is a fact, not a myth. All of the fallacies about Napa wines being too rich, short-lived and over-the-top are, in fact, absurd drivel often created by Euro-centric wine drinkers that have been proven false time and time again. If you are not following what is going on in Napa Valley, you are missing some of the world’s most compelling and provocative wines. End of story.”

Hear, hear!