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!

What to Expect from the 2013 Vintage (Hint: Expect a lot!)

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This morning’s harvest on a crisp, beautiful morning atop Spring Mountain

Last year at this time all anyone could talk about was how 2012 was a great year.  Well, then, what does that make 2013?  There’s only one answer:  a really, really great year.

The season got started with huge amounts of rain in December followed by drought conditions throughout the spring.  Warm conditions and early flowering meant that ripening was several weeks ahead of the norm.  The lack of spring rainfall allowed us to control irrigation in the vineyards, keeping vines and canopies healthy but maintaining small, concentrated berry size.  The summer continued with warm but not excessively hot conditions, and just when things were looking like we’d harvest early completing a very good season, Mother Nature gave us an even better gift:  conditions cooled down to slightly below normal, extending the growing season for several weeks. Weeks of sunny days and cool nights in September and October allowed the grapes to continue maturing and deepening their complex flavors without danger of over ripening, creating the best of all conditions.

With small berries providing higher skin to juice ratios for fermentation, the warm days helped the grapes retain their color while cool nights aided acid retention.  We’re very excited about the concentration in the Cab we’ve brought in this year.  The wine is intensely colored and rich in texture and flavor, with very good, balanced flavors and nice acid retention.

We have two Cabernet vineyards left to harvest, and will bring in the final grapes by mid-week next week.  Then we will most certainly toast to an incredible vintage, courtesy of Mother Nature.

 

The Insider’s View of Harvest

This week we kicked off the first of several weeks of “Harvest Boot Camp” at Amici Cellars.  We welcomed friends from around the country that want to get a true insider’s view of how a Napa Valley harvest works–and are willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard to get that view!  The first week of Harvest Boot Camp was a busy one:  the crew’s days were filled with early morning harvests in the vineyards, sorting stems and leaves from grapes at the sorting table, building barrels, touring vineyards, cleaning winery equipment — and, of course, plenty of fun times with good food and wine to celebrate their hard work.  On Friday we sent our first crew off to the airport, with purple-stained fingers, tired and happy after five days of hard work, and (hopefully) full of great stories to tell their co-workers back home.  Now to greet the next crew!

Harvest Day for Missouri Hopper Vineyard Cabernet

There was a nip in the air on Tuesday morning as we brought in the fruit from the Missouri Hopper Vineyard in the Oakville AVA.