Farmers’ Markets and a Pairing Menu for Friends

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In just one week, one of the first rites of the Napa Valley summer season arrives:  the opening of the St. Helena Farmers’ Market.  A beloved small-town institution, the St. Helena Farmers’ Market is a bustling event every Friday morning that brings together local farmers offering produce fresh from the fields, gourmet food vendors and demonstrations by well-known local chefs.  In short, it’s a foodie paradise.

To celebrate the opening of the Farmers’ Market season and the upcoming release our new wines, we invited Chef John Adamson to create a pairing menu that would celebrate the season and be fun to prepare together. Coming from Amici, a winery created and run by friends, it’s fitting that these recipes are designed for sharing and pairing.  Many hands make light work!  You can each tackle a recipe, or divide the tasks and create the dishes together. Either way, it’s an enjoyable, shared experience, and each course pairs beautifully with an Amici wine. So grab your basket and your best friends and toast the arrival of Farmers’ Market season!

Pour yourself and your friends a glass of Amici Sauvignon Blanc and start cracking on our recipe for Dungeness Crab Cake with Lemon Aioli and Spring Greens.  Serve it with a garnish of micro-greens, simply dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and salt. The wine’s lively citrus and tropical fruit flavors and crisp minerality bring out the best in the sweet, succulent crab.

Next up: markets are brimming with spring peas and farm-fresh butter. Put them together in Seared Gnocchi with English Peas, Pancetta and Parmigiano-ReggianoAmici Pinot Noir shows plum and black cherry flavors with a hint of cedar-a perfect pairing with the gnocchi’s earthy notes of browned butter and caramelized pancetta. For a quick and easy dish, you can use any good quality prepared gnocchi, found at many gourmet food markets. For true foodies, break out your potato ricer and try Chef Adamson’s homemade Gnocchi recipe.

For the main course Grilled Herb-Marinated Chicken with Farmers Market Vegetables lets you enjoy the flavors of summer. Fill your basket with fresh herbs and vegetables—parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, asparagus, spring onions and more—and a plump organic chicken.  Marinated overnight then grilled over mesquite charcoal, the juicy, smoky chicken and vegetables are the perfect foil for Amici Cabernet Sauvignon‘s wild berry aromas, supple tannins and dark fruit, toffee and mocha flavors.

Download all three recipes here.

Spring in the Vineyards

The vines are letting let us know that spring has officially arrived.  Stirring from their months of dormancy, they’re optimistically sprouting verdant new growth and seem to be basking in sunny, warm days.

Budbreak on a Rutherford Bench vine.

Budbreak on a Rutherford Bench vine.

Inside the winery, barrels tower floor to ceiling and front to rear, and it feels like we’re bursting at the seams after the blockbuster 2012 harvest.  Yields across California were the largest on record last fall, and that had winery staff across the valley (including ours) scrambling to find space for load after load of perfect grapes coming in.  Tastes from the barrels of the 2012 vintage haven’t disappointed:  these young wines are showing a delightful intensity and depth of flavor.

Assistant Winemaker Bobby has finished up the racking on the 2012s and now he and Joel can turn their attention to working on the 2011 blends, purchasing new equipment and all of the good stuff that comes with preparing the winery for the 2013 harvest.

The rest of us at Amici are busy getting ready for our Spring 2013 new releases and looking forward to sharing some seriously good stuff with our friends.  Spring is in the air!

Review Roll-up: January 2013

Notable reviews of Amici wines during the month of January:

2009 Amici Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Restaurant Wine:  “Very fine quality. Luscious and complex, this is an excellent wine: very ripely flavored (cassis, black licorice, plum jam), smooth and long on the palate, with a very persistent finish. Delicious. 4+ stars.”

2009 Amici Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – Restaurant Wine: 
“Full bodied and fairly rich, this is an intensely flavored Cabernet with cassis, blackberry, cooked meat and spicy aromas/flavors, and a long, moderately tannic finish. An excellent wine and a fine value. (4 stars)”

Olema 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County  – Restaurant Wine:  “Excellent:  supple in texture, full bodied, and long on the palate; a Cabernet with moderate richness, good balance, and a smooth finish, tasting of blackberry, toast, pepper, cherry, and sage. (4 stars)”

Olema 2010 Chardonnay Sonoma County – Restaurant Wine:  “Fairly complex in style; a Chardonnay that is full bodied, softly textured, lightly oaky, and long on the finish. It tastes of ripe fruit (pear, apple), toast, oak, honey, and grapefruit. 50% aged in oak barrels. (4 stars)”

Review Roll-Up: December 2012

December was a busy month for Amici wine reviews as critics published their “Best of the Year” lists.  Of course, we’re thrilled by every mention we got and are grateful to all of those reviewers for taking the time to taste our wines.  Some of the highlights:

2009 Amici Morisoli Cabernet Sauvignon95 Points, Wine Enthusiast Best of the Year Buying Guide:  “Another successful Cabernet from Amici, who turns to this esteemed vineyard for sourcing. It shows real pedigree and finesse, and it’s instantly appealing for its soft tannins and complex cherry, red currant, cocoa and spice flavors. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s Amici’s best Cabernet of the vintage, and this is as upscale as Napa Cabernet gets.”

2009 Amici Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon - 94 Points, Wine Enthusiast Best of the Year Buying Guide:  “This 100% Cabernet is soft, rich, fruity and almost sweet in ripe, jammy blackberry and cherry flavors… The acidity is firm and mouthwatering, and the tannins are wonderful. Drink now-2015.”

2009 Amici Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon - Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine:  “This wine is deep in cassis and tobacco-tinged fruit and hints at dusty soils from first to last. Its evident ripeness is never an issue or concern because the finely focused fruit stays the course and brings good balance and youthful energy to the insistent flavors. Supple in its texture in a way that belies its solid, tannin-firmed underbelly, it is a wine that is going to last for years to come even if capable of pleasing in the here now.”

2011 Amici Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley – Wine Enthusiast:  “Tart, clean and juicy, this has ripe flavors of apricot, citrus, tropical fruit and spice. With zesty acidity, it feels basically dry, despite the honeyed finish. A touch of oak lends vanilla and smoke notes.”

2011 Amici Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley – Wine Spectator:  “Touches of fresh herb highlight the crisp, juicy citrus, apple and pear flavors that lead to a refreshing finish. Drink now.” – M.W.

Review Roll-Up: November 2012

Some of the notable reviews Amici wines received during the month of November:

2009 Amici Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – Wine Spectator:  “Firm, concentrated and well-built, with a tight band of cedar, dried berry, black licorice and crushed rock. Ends with good length and depth. Drink now through 2022.” – J.L.

2009 Amici Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Spectator:  “Aromas of ripe berry and crushed rock are both supple and firm, turning graceful and refined on the finish while maintaining focus. Drink now through 2020.”  – J.L.

2009 Amici Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – 92 PointsWineReviewsOnline.com, “Amici is the new venture of Joel Aiken, the respected and well-liked winemaker who spent the most recent decades of his career at Beaulieu Vineyards as the keeper of the flame of the Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.  This Amici Cab – one of several that has just been released – is a lean, spicy, minerally mountain Cab with very good concentration of fresh, ripe (but not overripe), dark berry fruit with accents of fresh herbs and lovely definition.” 

Interview with Joel Aiken in The Terroirist

Read the Interview with Joel Aiken in The Terroirist

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Best quote from Joel in today’s Terroirist interview: “It’s easy to make a 16% alcohol, low acid wine that people like with the first sip, but these wines are boring to me and lose their appeal after about half a glass. The best wines I have experienced all needed some time in the bottle and glass to show their greatness.”

Pleasures of the Harvest Table

The pounding rain on the roof last night confirmed to all that autumn has indeed arrived. Many wineries around the valley had a busy weekend getting those last loads of grapes off the vines and hauled in for pressing before this storm arrived, and now it’s time to raise a glass to what was a wonderful season. A great way to toast a successful 2012 harvest would be to gather some friends and have a harvest dinner party, pairing a delicious recipe with a wine from our own Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Vintners have compiled a beautiful electronic cookbook called “Pleasures of the Harvest Table” featuring pairing recipes from some of Napa Valley’s best chefs. We’re pleased that our own recipe from Chef John Adamson can be found on page 49. Click on the photo below to explore this fun cookbook:

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