image: Publix Grape Magazine
Supposedly, it is Spring. Here in the Philly area, however, we jumped from sub-40F evenings directly to sunny, 80+F afternoons and something like 12,000% humidity. So, Summer decided to crash the party early.
A serendipitous time, therefore, is upon us during which to tell you of my contribution to the Summer 2015 edition of PUBLIX’s Grape Magazine (to which many of you can subscribe for free, by the way).
I contributed quite a bit of uncredited content to that one (much of it in the form of wine/food pairing write-ups). I also penned the In Focus section, this time focusing on the dreaded topic of boxed wines. Why this amazing little form of alternative wine packaging is still widely derided is beyond me, as we’re long past the point of the juice inside of those bag-in-boxes being sub-par. Granted, fine wine-ing it’s not, and admittedly it’s not the easiest task on earth to find a boxed wine that over-delivers on quality, but it certainly is easier finding a fairly-priced, tasty, and totally drinkable boxed wine than ever before.
During the In Focus piece, we get into the history of the boxed wine format, as well as explore some of the technology behind the bag-in-box packaging, which in a geeky way I have always found fascinating. You can check it out by subscribing at http://www.publix.com/clubs-programs/publications/publix-grape-magazine .
Cheers – and stay cool!
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).
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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