Are We Looking at a “Three-peat”?

Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Laurent Vineyard in St. Helena ready for crush at Amici Cellars.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Laurent Vineyard in St. Helena ready for crush at Amici Cellars.

That’s the question on everyone’s lips these days as we start harvest under what appears, for now, to be ideal conditions for a third year in a row. After the banner vintages of 2012 and 2013, which delighted everyone with exceptionally high yields and gorgeous, complex flavors, vintners across the valley are knocking on wood after daring to hope that we just may be in for yet another ideal vintage.

At Amici we kicked off harvest last week, bringing in our Sauvignon Blanc from St. Helena and Rutherford. “Everything looks absolutely perfect right now,” says winemaker Joel Aiken. “The flavors and the sugars in the grapes are ideal. We’re bringing in the Sauv Blanc at 23 brix and are starting another fermentation today.” This year’s harvest is about two weeks earlier than normal.

The current weather of foggy mornings and warm days in the mid-80’s is ideal for this time of year. The red varietals, which are still on the vine, are enjoying slow, even ripening in the sunny days and cool mornings, allowing complex flavors to develop without the threat of sunburn or rains. And although this past winter was one of the driest on record, the springs rains that did come were in February and March, at just the right time to create slow and steady growing conditions perfect for a high-quality crop.

Joel estimates that if the weather stays consistent, we’ll start bringing in our Cabernet grapes early to mid-September. Stay tuned for more harvest updates!

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

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!

Kicking Off Harvest 2013

Yesterday was a great day, as we celebrated the start of another harvest and what looks like a killer 2013 vintage!

Checking in on the Sauvignon Blanc Vineyards

Winemaker Joel Aiken heads out to the Sauvignon Blanc vineyards to look at how the grapes are coming along for harvest 2013.  At this point, Joel estimates a Sauvignon Blanc harvest date of late August, about two weeks earlier than the usual September date.  Chalk that up to a warm, dry spring in which the grapes have ripened evenly in mild temperatures.

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.

Nearing Sauvignon Blanc Harvest

Sauvignon Blanc harvest in Napa Valley is only days away!  Winemaker Joel Aiken takes us into the vineyards to tell us how he knows when it’s time to make the call to pull in the grapes.

Nearing

 Blanc Harvest