Wine Review | Amizetta Estate Family Winery

Amizetta Estate 2010 “Complexity”  Napa Valley

I have been drinking a lot of California Cabernets lately, and starting on New Year’s Eve, I started a little sidetrack into the wines of France, Margaux in particular.  Well this couldn’t have been better timing for a sample of Amizetta Complexity to arrive.

napa wine

Amizetta Complexity

Complexity’s blend is a “Bordeaux style”, and while it is not very similar to the wines of Bordeaux, it still represents a departure from the standard Napa Vally fare.  Speaking of the blend, the wine consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc.

A little back story on the vineyard and winery:

napa wineryThe vineyard was founded in 1979 and located on the southern end of Howell Mountain (although not actually in the Howell Mountain AVA) the hillside vineyard sits at about 1,000 ft elevation.  While perusing the Amizetta website I found some interesting information on hillside, or hill slope vineyards in Napa.  In an effort to preserve mountain views, it has become extremely difficult to develop any new hillside vineyards.  As such, the 40 acre Amizetta vineyard has become somewhat coveted, because of its size, elevation and that it faces south.

The winery was built in the middle of the vineyard in 1985, and Amizetta enlisted the help of a Mr. Justin Meyers.  Justin is the founder and wine-maker at Silver Oak.  The idea behind the winery was to make a “wine makers winery”.

Which brings us back to the 2010 Complexity.  The fruit for this wine is estate grown, the wine was aged in French oak for 18 months, and only 1,250 cases were made.  The wine retails for $45 a bottle

napa vineyardI decanted for 30 minutes prior to tasting.  My first sip was extraordinarily rich and ripe, extracted, concentrated and jammy.  However, it was only like this on the first few sips.  With a few more minutes in the glass, and with my palate adjusting, the wine calmed down and the complexity started to shine through.  The first thing to stand out were the tannins.  The wine is remarkably mature for a 2010, yet the tannins are unmistakable, they are almost dust like in their texture.  Fine, granular.  The nose is nice, thanks to a hint of Cabernet Franc.  As the wine opened up the elements of earth and tobacco mentioned in the winery’s tasting notes began to appear.  At $45 a bottle this is a decent value for a relatively rare wine, and it should cellar well over the next 5-10 or more years.  Luckily the winery shipped me 2 bottles, and if I am able to exercise any restraint I might be able to re-sample this wine in the future and see how its coming along!

Weekly Wine Journal rating: 93 points

Arizona Wine Industry Celebrates 2012 Harvest

 Arizona Wine Industry Celebrates 2012 Harvest

Grapes on vines PHOENIX – The Arizona wine industry is celebrating a better than expected wine grape harvest this year. With yields up and grape quality above average, the harvest left many wineries scrambling to find more barrels, tanks, and workers to bring in their crop. “It is a nice problem to be having this year after several years of devastating crop loss due to weather” said Curt Dunham, winemaker/owner of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards. In Arizona’s oldest wine region, the anticipation for a good growing season was very high and the harvest exceeds expectations. Ann Roncone, winemaker/owner of Lightning Ridge Cellars in Sonoita, explained “I’m thrilled to actually have some estate white grapes this year. We lost about half the crop from an April 18th frost. But half a crop is much better than the last two years, where April frosts completed wiped out our two white varietals (Muscat Canelli and Malvasia).”

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2012 harvest underway

Many vineyard owners reported that the monsoon season came early this year; starting in earnest in mid-June bringing quite a bit of rain for June and July in southern Arizona. Also, there were fewer new bugs to battle. The biggest challenge this year was keeping the nutrient levels just right. Vineyard managers reported Phosphorus and Potassium deficiencies creating difficulties during the growing season. Oak Creek Vineyards and Winery in Northern Arizona’s Verde Valley region reported their best harvest ever from their 12 year old vineyard. According to Florian Wahl, Oak Creek winemaker said, “We harvested our grapes with brix (sugar levels) at nearly 26 plus which we anticipate producing rich, smooth wines with nice alcohol.” Kief Manning, winemaker at Kief-Joshua Vineyards in Sonoita/Elgin area said “The cool summer temperatures coupled with plenty of rain has resulted in a hearty harvest this year.”

arizona wineArizona is receiving a lot of attention in recent years as the number of vineyard acres are expanding, wine production is increasing, and the quality of Arizona wines are being recognized. There are now over 63 bonded wineries in Arizona up from nine in 2000. However, wine grape acres have not kept up with the demand sending Arizona wineries to purchase grapes from outside of the state. Peggy Fiandaca, President of the Arizona Wine Growers Association, said “The 2012 harvest will help Arizona producers begin to keep up with demand. The opportunities of the Arizona wine industry are great, and there is no reason that the wine industry cannot be the next billion dollar wine region like Washington and Oregon.”

Southeastern Arizona is the third major wine grape growing region and one of the fastest in the amount of acres being planted. “We have just completed an amazing 2012 harvest,” according to Curt Dunham, owner/winemaker of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards. “We finished harvesting September 27th picking the last of the Petite Sirah. Our estate harvested over 12 tons which averages out to about six tons per acre – an amazing yield especially for such a young vineyard.” Dunham said, “We are literally up to our elbows in deep purple must and have been scrambling to find places to not only ferment the grapes but to store the finished wine after pressing.”  “The Arizona wine industry is excited about the 2012 growing season. We have a new state-of-the-art custom crush facility in Willcox, Arizona, new vineyard acreage planted, and wineries producing highly rated Arizona wines. All of these accomplishments are boosting Arizona’s image as a quality winemaking region,” said Peggy Fiandaca, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.

*Press release and photos courtesy of the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association

Arizona Wine Aid 2010

I was just forwarded an email announcing a wine tasting to try and help out the Arizona Vineyards that were devastated by a hailstorm last Sunday:

“The wineries down in Sonoita and Elgin have become more than just clients. They also are friends. Well, our friends are hurting right now. A severe hail storm hit Sunday night wiping out virtually all of their grapes that were to be harvested in the next couple of weeks to make this year’s wines. The fruit in the vineyards along Elgin Road – Callaghan’s Vineyards, Dos Cabezas, Canelo Hills and more – are a complete loss.

They still have some fruit they can get from Willcox but all of their work in the Elgin vineyards has been lost. Now instead of preparing for the huge annual harvest, they will be working just to save the plants so they can survive winter. To say this is depressing is an understatement. So we bring you ….

Wine Aid 2010

Friday, Aug. 20

4-6 p.m.

at the Moses Anshell Wine Bar

Willie Nelson was booked. But here’s what we do have.

Some of us bought a nice big sampling of the Sonoita/Elgin area wines.

We’re putting a signup sheet at the front desk to bring desserts/appetizers and other edibles.

So Friday will be a chance for free eats and free drinks. All we ask is a donation in the collection box that we will pass on to the wineries.

Tell clients, friends and significant others. We want to share Arizona wine – and do something to help”

Mosesanshell website