Amuse Bouche 2008 Merlot Napa Valley

The best winemakers invariably say that great wine is grown, not made. Yet with certain vintages, nature requires assistance, as in 2008, when dry spring conditions in Napa Valley, California, prompted the vines to bud early, making them susceptible to the ravages of heavy frosts and, in some appellations, reduced yields by as much as 30 percent. Unusual heat spikes threatened the second budding and, in many cases, the fruit set unevenly. Under these challenging conditions, the vineyard manager and the winemaker often play more prominent parts in the season’s performance, and no greater artists have lent their talents to the viticultural stage than Jim Barbour and Heidi Barrett, who produce Amuse Bouche, the sought-after merlot that many collectors regard as California’s answer to the masterpieces of Pomerol.

Out of that year’s climatic chaos, the pair achieved sublime harmony—an unctuous merlot lightly laced with cabernet franc that conjures deep chords of black cherry and high notes of dark chocolate, Tahitian vanilla, and coffee. Given this virtuoso performance, it is appropriate that the original artwork by Steve Kaufman selected for the 2008 label should, for the first and only time, depict Barrett herself. The 2008 merlot is $225 per bottle for a 6-bottle case. (www.amusebouchewine.com)

From Around the Web...
Raise a glass in the nation’s capital this weekend at one of these preeminent bars…
From Roosevelt’s Mint Juleps to Reagan's Orange Blossoms, these drinks have calmed the...
Named after a mythic dragon, the golden spirit is a contemporary take on a legendary liquor…
Ease into the new year and a new you with lighter spirits…
Raising more than $146 million to date for children, the event this year could break the bank…
Located in the hotel’s lobby, the Speyside distillery’s transient tasting room will last five days…
This spirit celebrates the birthday of one of the forefathers of bourbon…
Michter’s new limited-edition release is a blend of aged bourbons and ryes…
Only 898 bottles of this rare blended Scotch were made…
Photo by Beam Suntory
Bowmore releases the last bottles of this special dram…