Amuse Bouche Merlot 2007
Merlot from Napa Valley, California
The 2007 harvest was characterized by its split personality. After a moderate summer, a burst of heat in early September led a number of wineries to pick earlier than usual. However, the harvest stalled due to a dramatic cooling off period in mid September. When it resumed later in the month, our vineyards clearly had benefited from the extended hang time. The later harvest allowed an optimal ripening period for our Merlot and Cabernet Franc blocks, which we picked just before heavy rainfall struck the Napa Valley in early October.
Twelve months later, our esteemed winemaker, Heidi Barrett, describes the '07 (93% Merlot/7% Cabernet Franc) as "almost purple black in color with aromas of crushed blackberries and ripe plum, mineral, wild mushrooms, vanilla and coffee bean. The tannins are muscular but balanced, with consistent velvety textures, and seductively layered to mature 10-15 years down the road." The Amuse Bouche 2007 was bottled in April 2009 after resting in a combination of Tarransaud, Gamba and Radoux cooperage.
The Amuse Bouche 2007 original art was created by legendary artist LeRoy Neiman and is entitled, "The Last Dance." Born in 1921, Neiman has become an American icon for 20th century modern art. He is an artist who responds to his time and has always felt that being a part of every generation was paramount to the success of his work. The "Last Dance," commissioned by Amuse Bouche Winery, depicts two roof top diners enjoying the moment while their champagne flutes rest table side. This oil on board, Neiman explains, "uses colors to emphasize the scent, spirit and feeling of the scene I have experienced."
The Wine Advocate - "Dominated by Merlot, but with a small amount of Cabernet Franc included in the blend, this limited production, boutique offering hits all the right spots on the palate and olfactory receptors. Its dark ruby/purple color is accompanied by sweet aromas of plums, black cherries, soy, and oak and the wine is fleshy, textured, flamboyant, lush, and delicious. Amuse Bouche's finest effort to date, it can be enjoyed over the next 12-15 years. "
Wine Spectator - "Supple and beautifully layered, with black cherry and toasty vanilla aromas and currant, spice and roasted sage flavors that start delicately and then build to a rich, ripely tannic finish. Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2015. 500 cases made. "
International Wine Cellar - "Bright red-ruby. High-pitched, slightly candied aromas of crushed red berries and plum lifted by a whiff of rose petal. A juicy, sweet, slightly high-toned fruit bomb, with good energy to its creamy, exotic red berry flavors. Boasts lovely clarity and finishing perfume."
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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 & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.