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.

Review Roll-up: August 2013

We were happy to see lots of reviews of Amici wines during the month of August:

2012 Amici Cellars Sauvignon Blanc — “Made from warm climate fruit that offers both richness and complexity, the sauvignon musqué spent most of its time in stainless steel, although some of it saw some oak and a percentage also underwent malolactic fermentation. It has a grassy nose and treats the drinker to lovely lemon zest and stone fruit on the lengthy finish.” - Pierce Carson, Napa Valley Register, 8/15/13

• 2010 Amici Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon — “Wine Pick of the Week. We found it dense in flavor and not yet yielding the subtlety and nuance it will show will show with a little more age. Dark fruit predominates—Santa Rosa plums, blackberries and black cherries with just a bit of cassis. There are also some licorice and light chocolate notes in the background. At $45, this is a relative bargain for quality Napa Valley Cabernet.”  - http://www.tastecaliforniatravel.com, 8/26/13

2010 Amici Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “If anyone knows how to treat Rutherford Bench fruit, it’s Joel Aiken. Here’s a wine you can enjoy now or lay down for up to 10 years. After impressing with a gorgeous perfumy nose, the wine displays layers of fruit on the palate, most notably plums and black cherries. It’s still a baby and a real bargain for Napa Valley cab.” - Pierce Carson, Napa Valley Register, 8/15/13

2010 Amici Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (September 2013 release) — “The majority of the fruit for this exceptional blend came from Rutherford, with a bit of spice and backbone credited to grapes harvested up on Spring Mountain. With layers and layers of flavor and the finesse that a seasoned winemaker can coax out of a harvest, this reserve has a lot to offer, from mocha to intense flavors of black cherries and blackberries.” Pierce Carson, Napa Valley Register, 8/15/13

2009 Amici Cellars Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon — “This has both length and depth, a 100 percent cabernet from the dust of the Morisoli tract in Rutherford. It’s the most intense of the cabs tasted from this brand, having spent two years to date in bottle. It should age well for a couple of decades. There’s a gorgeous nose of black fruit, followed by a full mouth of black fruit and black olives —an earthy, well-rounded cab for the aficionados.” Pierce Carson, Napa Valley Register, 8/15/13

A New Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

We’re getting ready for tomorrow morning’s harvest at our newest source for Pinot Noir: Oakwild Ranch Vineyard, in the heart of Russian River Valley.