We confess... We went French this vintage. On the art, that is! We couldn't resist. For our Amuse Bouche 2012, we commissioned celebrated Parisian artist, Marc Clauzade, to create the gorgeous painting featured on this label: Le Bar à Vin.
Born in 1957 and raised in a family of art and fashion (both grandmothers were designers for France's top fashion houses in the 1930s), Clauzade embarked on an education in engineering before acknowledging his passion for art and enrolling at the Beaux-Arts school in Toulouse. Shortly after completing his training, he was awarded the coveted Grand Prix Oil from the FIAP Paris Salon. His art is now exhibited worldwide, including stateside at institutions such as the Galerie d'Art Français in New Orleans and the Galerie Rue Toulouse in Carmel. Clauzade uses flowing brushstrokes and contrasting lines to create flirty, colorful personalities in retro-chic milieus. The French Art Network hails Clauzade as "the first artist to reinterpret Lautrec and Dégas in over 100 years." Visit www.clauzade.net to learn more about Marc Clauzade's work.
We harvested the Amuse Bouche 2012 on October 2 from our lofty vineyards in the east Rutherford Hills of Napa Valley. The blend of 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc is currently resting in a combination of Taransaud, Radoux and Gamba cooperage, awaiting its March 2014 bottling date. 575 cases were produced. We will ship your wine in the fall 2014, weather permitting.
You will receive your limited edition lithograph of Le Bar à Vin once you secure your allocation. Our lithographs are produced on 19th-century presses and hand signed and numbered by Marc Clauzade.
Accolades for the 2012 Amuse Bouche Napa Valley Red Blend
"Bright, silky and elegant with tangy plum and fine acid structure; juicy and pure with finesse and huge aging potential. 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc."
- Tasting Panel, 2015
"The 2012 Proprietory Red Amuse Bouche offers juicy blue and red fruits along with surprisingly noticeable acidity, good cleanliness and purity, and a style that falls somewhere between a French Bordeaux and a Napa red wine. Although still youthful, it displays a potential for plenty of aromatic complexity, medium to full body, and savory flavors. The wine has yet to reveal its considerable potential, so give it several more years of bottle age and drink it over the following 10-15 years."
- Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, October 2014
A WINE FOR ALL SENSES
"Since they launched the Napa-based label Amuse Bouche in 2002 – an homage to the soft yet structured allure of the Merlot-centric right bank of Bordeaux – Schwartz and Barrett knew that they wanted the wine to resonate for both the eye and the palate... 'We set out to craft an amazingly delicious right-bank style using Merlot and Cabernet Franc...Amuse Bouche gets a little Cabernet Franc blended in, adding backbone and structure to the Merlot, which is so voluptuous and soft.'"
- Wynn, Fall 2014
"Heidi Barrett has been the winemaker for many of the top Napa Valley cult wines such as Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Grace Family, Paradigm and more."
"The challenge of producing a Napa Valley Merlot in the style of the great Pomerol wines such as Petrus and Le Pin inspired Heidi Barrett to create Amuse Bouche wine."
Robert Parker has dubbed Heidi Barrett "the first lady of wine."
The Winemaker - Amuse Bouche Napa Valley Merlot
Heidi Barrett grew up in the Napa Valley in a winemaking family and was destined to become one of California's leading winemakers. It is said that winemaking is a combination of science and art. With a scientist-winemaker father and an artist mother it is no big surprise that Heidi was drawn to the wine industry. With great enthusiasm, a love for what she does, and an incredible wealth of experience, Heidi blends the art and science of winemaking like few can.
Through high school, she spent her summers in wineries and vineyards, taking on all jobs from sorting vine cuttings to bottling line work. She then continued her winemaking education at UC Davis. While at Davis she was an assistant to Dr. Ann Noble, the developer of the aroma wheel. Heidi also did an internship at a large co-op winery in southern Germany, which produced many varieties of wine, both whites and reds. There she learned the art of making balanced wines, no matter what the variety.
After graduating from UC Davis in 1980 with a B.S. Degree in Fermentation Science, she went to work for Justin Meyer at Franciscan Vineyards and Silver Oak. After subsequent crush jobs at both Lindeman's Wines in Australia and Rutherford Hill, Heidi Barrett became assistant winemaker to Jerry Luper at Bouchaine Vineyards. Then in 1983, at age 25 became winemaker at Buehler Vineyards. It was here that she first attracted critical acclaim by greatly improving the wine quality and taking the production from 6,000 cases to 20,000 cases. This wide range of experience has given Heidi a unique insight into winemaking. "I think it is important to have a wide variety of experience to draw from. You can't just step in and be the winemaker unless you have a lot of experience in the cellar. I wanted to make sure that when I finally had the title of winemaker, I had earned it."
In 1988, she left Buehler to become an independent winemaker (freelance), making wine for a number of small wineries. Within a week she was hired by Gustav Dalla Valle and was winemaker at Dalla Valle Vineyards until spring 1996. It was there that she took her abilities to the next level creating some powerful yet elegant Cabernets, including the famous "Maya" cult wine, a proprietary Cabernet blend that received two perfect 100 point scores from Robert Parker ( the '92 and '93) as well as record breaking bids at the Napa Valley Wine Auction. She started making wine for Screaming Eagle in 1992, which has also received two perfect 100 pt scores (the '92 and recent '97). A 6-liter bottle of '92 SE set a world record for the highest price ever paid for a single bottle of wine at the 2000 Napa Valley Wine Auction selling for $500,000. A vertical offering of this cult wine went for $650,000 at the 2001 NVWA.
Since 1988 she has developed an impressive client list of ultra-premium wineries. In addition to her very own wines from La Sirena, she is currently the winemaker for Amuse Bouche, Paradigm, Lamborn, Kenzo Estate, Au Sommet, Vin Perdu, and Fantesca. Past winemaking clients include Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Jones Family, Grace Family, Vineyard 29, David Arthur, Barbour Vineyards, and Showket.
"I like the challenge of working with so many different wines. My philosophy is to make the best wines possible with emphasis on the unique characteristics of each individual vineyard. I try to maximize the potential of each vintage in a very balanced, elegant style of winemaking"
Heidi also started making her own wine, La Sirena in 1994 with a tiny production of Sangiovese. "I was looking for a name for my wine which would be as magical as I think wine is. La Sirena which means "the Mermaid" in Italian and Spanish is a way of representing two of my great passions". In 1996 she made the first Cabernet Sauvignon for La Sirena and in 2000 the first Syrah.
In 2002, Heidi partnered with longtime friend John Schwartz to create Amuse Bouche, a Pomerol-inspired Merlot from Napa Valley. Recognizing that the cult wine phenomenon has created an almost aspirational class structure among collectors, the partners decided to make this limited edition wine available to a much broader consumer base. Winemaker Heidi Barrett explains, "We have created Amuse Bouche, a limited edition, superb Pomerol style wine with the added value of limited edition art that is available to consumers through a variety of channels."
She has been a wine judge at various competitions over the last 20 years, was president of Napa Valley Wine Tech, and has graced the covers of both The Wine News and The Wine Enthusiast. She has been a featured guest on several television programs, was winemaker of the year, made Parker's list of wine personalities of the year 1994,1995 and is on Parker's wine heroines list of 1998 (one of two from the US). Parker has dubbed her the "first lady of wine".
Heidi Barrett lives in Calistoga with her husband, Bo (winemaker at Chateau Montelena) and their two daughters, Remi and Chelsea. She is a well-liked and respected winemaker in the Napa Valley. She also very much enjoys being a mom, skiing, painting, and her garden.