The theme of the nose is ripe berries, with all the typical features of the 4 varieties in the blend – red current from Cabernet Sauvignon, blackberry from Merlot, plums and spices from Malbec and black jubes and musk from Petit Verdot.
In the same mould as the nose, the palate has great fruit concentration and length, courtesy of all the dark berry flavours. This sits over and all but covers a firm structure of acid and tannin, so the result is very drinkable.
The discussion of Amy’s begins with an apology. This wine has had very little airplay from us since the 2014 vintage and we feel we owe an explanation. It’s role in our portfolio is to introduce Moss Wood to new customers and which means it is sold quite widely across the wine trade in restaurants and liquor stores. Extensive distribution is very important but puts considerable pressure on our supplies, despite Amy’s being the biggest volume of wine we make. It so happens that yields in 2015 and 2016 were very low and therefore our quantities were well below average and both wines worked their way through our system unusually quickly and both without a newsletter to our Members. We simply couldn’t keep up and we trust we haven’t offended too many people.
With the 2017 vintage, yields were back to normal, Amy’s is back in our newsletter and our first red wine release from the 2017 vintage, one that was both exciting and challenging. Regular readers will recall its uncanny similarity with the great 1990 and from a quality perspective, 2017 looms as a significant competitor for its older sibling. If we look at the harvest details, we can see why this was.
The exciting part is in the consistency of the ripeness across all varieties. This is very important because our aim in making the Amy’s is to ensure the wine has good fruit depth, without an assertive structure. Each variety was picked over 13° Baume and the Merlot and Petit Verdot both got to 14°. This means they all have genuine fruit richness, leaving the tannins, even in the young wine, sitting nicely in the background.
So, what was the challenge? The harvest dates, of course! Instead of starting in mid-march with Malbec or Merlot, we didn’t take any fruit until 11th April. Cabernet Sauvignon has a median harvest date of 24th April but the last batch didn’t come off until the 29th! In a region where significant rain is always a risk from the middle of March onwards, this was indeed a challenge. We spent many hours assessing and reassessing the weather forecasts and we got lucky. Mother Nature decided to give us a classic west coast, Indian Summer, with no rain and balmy autumn days. Every day the forecast said fine was another day that we would delay picking and, in the end, the result is quite special.
Across all the varieties in the Amy’s blend, we use a similar technique, with fermentations in closed tanks, with pump-overs for colour and flavour extraction. Time on skins is typically shorter than the Moss Wood and Ribbon Vale reds, varying from 9 days for the Petit Verdot to 16 days for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot. After pressing, the wine was blended and then racked to 228 litre French oak barrels, although there was no new oak. Our intention is to ensure the Amy’s always has good fruit depth and so a short time in old barrels gives us sufficient complexity.
In June 2018 all barrels were racked and blended in stainless steel and assessed for tannin balance. Fining trials showed the wine to have excellent balance and so it remained untreated. It was then sterile filtered and bottled on 9th July, 2018.
Very deep brick red hue, almost blue tints, in bright condition