A Look at Amici Harvest Boot Camp

Every fall we have fun hosting a series of visitors from the wine industry who come to us to take part in Amici’s “Harvest Boot Camp.” It’s a unique way to truly understand what happens at a winery during the harvest season, and provides an opportunity for our “boot campers” to put their own personal stamp on a wine, knowing they played a part in its creation.

One of our recent boot campers, Heather Boysen, wrote an article for the Argus Leader on her experience at Amici:

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http://www.argusleader.com/story/wineblog/2014/10/01/amici-farm/16540209/

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

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!

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.

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.

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!

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