Amuse Bouche (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2002
Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
Production of the inaugural vintage of Amuse Bouche wine is limited to 3,000 bottles. The Amuse Bouche wine is showing remarkable structure and suppleness through fermentation, with aromas and flavors of black tea, currants, raspberries and anise. The Cabernet Franc grapes, from 20-year-old hillside vines in Oakville, California, were picked on October 3, 2002 and have joined the Merlot grapes aging in a variety of French oak cooperage.
Wine Spectator - "Ultraripe and showy, with juicy wild berry, blackberry and currant flavors that are complex and concentrated, with a tight focus and a long, lingering aftertaste. Not shy about the use of toasty oak; the wood folds in nicely. A touch of heat on the finish underscores the ripeness, and it has ample tannins. Merlot and Cabernet Franc."
The Wine Advocate - "Primarily Merlot blended with a small amount of Cabernet Franc, Amuse Bouche’s Merlot is packaged in a heavy, artisanal bottle displaying the artwork of Guy Buffet on the label. It is a classic, high quality Merlot with an opaque ruby/purple color as well as notes of sweet cherries, Asian plum sauce, and hints of camphor and ink. The fragrant aromatics are followed by a medium to full-bodied wine revealing gorgeous fruit, purity, glycerin and texture. This 2002 appears to have hit full maturity and should drink well for another decade given its level of concentration and balance."
International Wine Cellar - "Bright ruby-red. Aromas of bitter cherry, plum, licorice, dark chocolate, tobacco and smoke. Juicy, sappy and fruity, with dark berry, mineral, licorice, tobacco and fresh herb flavors enlivened by harmonious acidity. Vibrant and light on its feet. Elegant, flavorful wine, finishing with fine tannins and lovely verve. 92 points."
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Amuse Bouche Winery
article from TIME magazine, Oct 28, 2002:
The Wine Diva of Napa
When the final bid came in at $500,000 for a 6-L bottle of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon at the Napa Valley Wine Auction two years ago, there was a moment of stunned silence. Then the audience broke into applause. It was (and still is) the highest price ever paid for a bottle of wine. The proceeds went not to the woman who made the vintage, Heidi Peterson Barrett, but to fund social services in Napa Valley. But the sale cemented Barrett's reputation as one of the world's top winemakers.
One recent Tuesday, as the grape harvest was beginning, Barrett strolled through a vineyard, picking fruit from the sunny and shady sides of the trellis, chewing on the grape skins. In her hand was a printout of grape-sugar levels that were tested overnight. "But you can't measure for flavor," she says. "There is no hint of any green flavor, all black and red fruit, blackberry and cherry flavors. I think we are real close, Friday, maybe."
Barrett, who has a degree in oenology from the University of California at Davis, has worked with winemakers in Australia and Germany. Today for the owners of Screaming Eagle, she makes just 500 cases a year; all are sold in advance to established customers. Resale price of a new bottle: $1,000 plus. She also makes Cabernet Sauvignon for Barbour and Showket Vineyards, among others. Her private label, La Sirena, sells for $125 a bottle.
As harvest time approaches each year, Barrett gets tense. "Screaming Eagle grapes are $4,500 a ton," she says, compared with $2,000 a ton for a typical Napa vineyard's. "You have got to get the harvest date correct. Then you're halfway there." Screaming Eagle is blended from six to eight lots of Cabernet Sauvignon. Smaller amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc are added. When the grapes are picked and crushed, Barrett must decide what kind of yeast to add and how long to leave the juice to ferment. She likes to work on her own, which is why she keeps her vintages small. After 18 months in oak barrels, the wine is blended before being bottled. "I do it with a taste test with a count of six," during which the different grape tastes should hit the drinker's palate. "I want all those stages, one through six, to be seamless and full." And Barrett usually gets what she wants.--T.M View all Amuse Bouche Wines
About Napa ValleyView a map of Napa Valley wineries
It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Notable FactsWithin the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just grated an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.
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