Posts Filed Under wine review

A Winemakers’ Winery (Amici Recent Releases)

Amici's John Harris & Joel Aiken

Amici’s John Harris & Joel Aiken

“This is a winemakers’ winery.”

That Amici’s Associate Winemaker Bobby Donnell was speaking truth to me – and not just laying out the typical wine country cliché – was evidenced by the total lack of anything resembling Napa Valley “Why, yes I DID!” pomposity in Amici’s vinous Calistoga hamlet.

Maybe it’s due to owner John Harris’ down-to-earth influence, consulting winemaker Joel Aiken’s humility, or the winery’s somewhat-off-the-beaten-path location (or all three), but the Adult Wine Disneyland factor is pretty much approaching the zero line when it comes to graphing the esprit of Amici’s Cabernet production. Their reds are certainly Napa-esque fruity and powerful, but they’re also often tinged with energy, depth, and nuance. They wear lace in all the right places. And based on the asking prices, they got the laces at a discount (by Napa standards, anyway).

Amici trailer

Trailer, but not trash

But the above is also a nice way of saying that when you visit Amici, you’ll see… trailers. With barrels and space heaters in them. That’s where Aiken and Donnell house “a whopping ten tons” of production using whole berry fermentation, mostly for experimentation (though some portion now makes it into the Napa Valley Cabernet and Reserve Cabernet production). The reason? Outside trailers are the only room that they have left.

As Donnell put it, “the nickel tour involves bathroom, too!”

For my dinero, though, that’s all just fine. A lack of showcase winery adornment is more than made up in the experience that you’ll have in the bottle of typical Amici Cab, which offers the better aspects of NV red with a number on the price tag that’s about 33% lower than what we ought to expect from something that has Napa printed prominently on its label.

Yearning for lofty marble columns, classical music, and pomp and circumstance? You’ll have to look elsewhere. Fancy classic rock music playing while a smoker servers up BBQ fare out back beyond the trailers? Then Amici is your place, and these just might be your wines…

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Rock My Pinot Like A Wagon Wheel (MacPhail Recent Releases)

Vinted on March 25, 2015 binned in sexy wines, wine review
MacPhail Mardikian Pinot

Have metallic embossed label, will travel

Before you ask… yes, I am still not quite up to the full-on feature articles, and am woefully behind. Look, I’ve got major issues on the homestead, people, so you’re going to need to be patient (or, simply enthrall yourselves with any of the other billion English-language wine blogs out there for now).

The issues have not stopped me from imbibing wine, however (even after having mouth surgery – oh yeah, who’s your drinkin’ daddy?!??). Hey, this is me we’re talking about, here!

Fortunately for both of us, the sample pool gods hath been smilingly generous towards me in my time of personal woe. Thanks to them, I can throw the following wines and resulting frissons of gustatory excitement out at you, my friends.

Just so long as you don’t mind a penchant for wagon pictures on wine labels, or Pinots that clock in at over 14% alcohol (please… leave that abv-hate at the virtual door before entering here, ok?); trust me, James MacPhail knows what the f–k he’s doing with his Pinot…

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Highlights From #Vino2015

Paneling wine + music at VINO2015

Paneling wine + music at VINO2015

I am, as I’ve noted ad nauseam lately, insanely behind on my producer/feature write-ups. That streak continues unabated at the moment, but this time it’s in favor of actually bringing you some vino recommendation (you’re welcome!).

I recently had the great pleasure of being a panelist speaker at the enormous VINO215 Italian wine trade and tasting event in NYC. I’ll get to some highlights from the tastings in a few moments, but first I wanted to tell you with as much humility as I could muster that my panel TOTALLY KILLED IT. I mean, look… we had… THIS:

That’s just Awesome with a capital A, (in the words of Martin Short’s Ed Grimley) “I must say!

Which is, of course, my humorous attempt to tell you that I thought that my fellow panelists and moderator totally killed it in talking about the intersection of wine and music, and that I was basically just trying to keep up with them.

Of course, VINO2015 was chock-full of enough tasting opportunities to pickle all of your livers several times over, and so here are my takes on a few that turned my wine-geek-critic-type-guy head (with apologies in advance to the VINO2015 organizers, who focused on Southern Italy, while I apparently focused on Northern Italy, as you’ll soon see). Also, for those of you complainy-pants who constantly moan that I never talk about inexpensive wines, this your chance to bite it! (I mean that respectfully… I think…)…

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