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Singing “Purple Rain” to the end of Harvest 2014

What a great fall season (earthquakes notwithstanding).  We celebrated the official end of harvest for Amici on Monday as we brought in our last load of grapes (from the famous Tokalon vineyard, no less—look out for that one in a couple years).  After nine weeks of harvest craziness, the last grapes rolled off the sorting table as the crew cheered and champagne corks popped to the strains of “Purple Rain” by Prince. We caught it all on video, so we hope you enjoy this little glimpse of life around our winery.
Loud music warning:  if you’re watching this at work, you might want to get those headphones on!

Celebrating the Close of Harvest 2014

A Smashing Success for the Barrel Auction

It’s tough to have a bad day wandering the beautiful grounds of Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, but Friday’s barrel auction hit an all-time high note for picture-perfect weather, stunning wines and delicious food.

Two thousand attendees came to sample and bid on wines from 100 barrels inside the Charles Krug Redwood Cellar at Friday’s barrel auction, part of Auction Napa Valley.  The wines were almost all from the celebrated 2012 vintage and as a group wowed attendees with their depth, complexity and sheer deliciousness.  Amici’s barrel of 2012 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet was a huge hit with tasters, who bid more than $2,000 per case to get their hands on it.

Outside the barrel room, attendees wandered the Marketplace in the gorgeous weather, sipping white and rosé wines and tasting amazing bites of food cooked on site by the crème de la crème of Napa Valley’s restaurant and catering scene.  Yesterday’s barrel auction was an astounding success by any measure, and while the final numbers are not in yet, the unofficial word is that the charitable funds raised may be close to last year’s record of almost $1.7 million.  And to top that, things really kick into high gear later today with the live auction at Meadowood Resort, while the e-auction continues until Sunday.

The calm before the storm: minutes before attendees arrive.

The calm before the storm: minutes before attendees arrive.

Pouring at this year's barrel selection.

Pouring this year’s barrel selection.

Cooks from Meadowood prepare fresh spring peas for their dish at the Marketplace

Cooks from Meadowood prepare fresh spring peas for their dish at the Marketplace

The top bidder gets a commemorative signed barrel head.

The top bidder gets a commemorative signed barrel head.

Nothing matches the excitement of the barrel auction.

Nothing matches the excitement of the barrel auction.

Always a favorite, Woodhouse Chocolates presents samples of their amazing creations.

Always a favorite, Woodhouse Chocolates presented samples of their amazing creations.

The boards are full from generous bidders.

The boards are full from generous bidders.

The final bids are posted, the confetti has flown, and another great barrel auction comes to a close.

The final bids are posted, the confetti has flown, and another great barrel auction comes to a close.

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

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!

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.

 

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.

Adding a Southwestern Flair to Recipe Pairings

We live in a big country, and it’s fun to explore our many interesting and delicious regional cuisines.  When summertime comes, there’s something about the flavors of the southwest, with their deep, earthy notes of chilies and spices balanced with the fresh, lively flavors of cilantro and lime, that lends itself to outdoor summer dining.  But if you also love your wine (as we do), pairing these two sets of flavors takes a deft hand.  Too much heat in your peppers and those smooth tannins in your Cabernet Sauvignon suddenly get a little less smooth; pack too big a punch with your boldly flavored seafood and gone are the delicate tropical notes of its Sauvignon Blanc pairing partner.

But you can successfully pair the nuanced and subtle flavors in wine with some incredibly delicious southwestern-style meals, and as in any good pairing, both the wine and the food benefit.  “Wine is often traded for beer when pairing with the flavors of the Southwest, but there’s no reason that needs to be the case,” says Chef John Adamson.   Amici co-owner John Harris grew up in Texas and he loves the flavors of his childhood, so when cooking for winery events, Chef Adamson often pairs Amici Cabernet Sauvignon and Amici Sauvignon Blanc with food that highlights the complex and bold flavors of the Southwest.

“Southwestern flavors, with their mix of chilies, cilantro and lime, pair well with Amici ImageSauvignon Blanc due to its palate-cleansing, crisp tropical notes,” says Chef Adamson.  To explore these complementary flavors, Adamson created his Amici “Cantina” Fish Tacos, in which snapper or halibut gets a buttermilk batter dip before frying up crispy and delicious, topped with creamy chipotle and lime-laced cabbage and pico de gallo. The lively citrus and tropical fruit flavors and bright minerality of Amici Sauvignon Blanc bring just the right note of mouth-watering freshness for a perfect pairing.

ImageAs for Amici Cabernet Sauvignon, Chef Adamson likes to pair its dark berry and mocha flavors with a juicy, smoky grilled skirt steak and serve it with a chimichurri, highlighting the dark fruit with a palate-perking acidity.  And if you want to walk on the wild side of food and wine pairings, just try John Adamson’s grilled Padrón peppers with sea salt: everything you were afraid to serve with a Cabernet works here.  “The Padróns, with their characteristic ‘some hot-some not’ nature, enhance the wine’s fruit characteristics, while they are not hot enough to clash with its tannins,” says Chef Adamson.  His recipe for Lone Star Skirt Steak with Padrón Peppers and Chimichurri is sure to become a summer favorite for you, as it is for us.