Have I mentioned recently that I love having friends that share great wines? Well, if I haven’t – I need to. I have been introduced to many wonderful wines and wineries through friends in Huntsville. A number of years back, I was introduced to the wines from Amizetta Winery of Napa Valley.
My first tasting experience with Amizetta was a wine dinner hosted at the Ledges with Spencer and Amizetta Clark here in Huntsville for the dinner. The Clarks founded the winery in 1979. The vineyards are on a steep hillside at the end of Howell Mountain overlooking Lake Hennessey. They produce a variety of wines from grapes grown on the estate.
In 2013, Lori and I had the opportunity to visit the winery during one of our trips to Napa and Sonoma. Our hosts for our visit were Perry and Edward Clark, two of Spencer’s sons and they are now operating the winery with Edward serving as the Winemaker and Perry as the President of the company. We signed up for the Amizetta Wine Club during that trip and we’ve been enjoying a variety of their wines ever since. I have shared these wines with other friends and everyone we have introduced to these wines has enjoyed the immensely.
(Note: Stay tuned for more information about the next California Wine Extravaganza during the Summer of 2016. Amizetta Winery is one of the wineries we will visit on that trip.)
Fast forward to March of 2015 and I get an email from my wine friend informing me that Perry and Edward were coming to Huntsville for another Amizetta Wine dinner, this time at the Mason Dixon Bistro on Whitesburg. I was available for the evening and made a reservation for the dinner. (Lori didn’t get to attend – she was out of town that particular evening.) The chef put together an excellent menu to show off an excellent selection of Amizetta wines.
The menu was:
First Course: Marinated Baby Shrimp Salad with Shaved Fennel, Pickled Fingerling Potatoes and Frisee
Paired Wine: 2012 Amizetta Sauvignon Blanc
Second Course: Seared Scallop over Chorizo Polenta, Charred Corn Relish, finished with Romesco Sauce
Paired Wine: 2012 Amizetta Merlot
Third Course: Roasted Lamb Rack with a Chocolate and Pistachio Bread Pudding, English Peas, Baby Carrots and a Morroccan Spiced Demi-Glace
Paired Wine: 2012 Amizetta Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Dessert: Poached Asian Pear with Mascarpone Ice Cream
Paired Wine: 2012 Amizetta Complexity
The dishes were simply excellent and they accentuated the character of the wines. The Sauvignon Blanc is the only white wine they make and the only wine made with grapes that are not grown in their vineyard. The Merlot is a full bodied Napa Merlot – more “weight” to it than many of the other Merlots I have tasted. This is a Merlot for Cabernet lovers. And for the Cabernet Lovers, next up was the Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a very limited production wine made from the grapes from the steepest and rockiest part of the vineyard. It is aged in new French Oak Barrels for almost 2 years prior to bottling. This Cab was simply delicious – depth of flavor for a young Cab and silky tannins. Last up was the Complexity. The Complexity is a red blend. Spencer wanted to produce a Bordeaux Style Blend from California grapes. The Complexity is the wine with the largest production from Amizetta. When we visited in 2013, Edward was telling us that they had changed up the blend and he gave us a barrel sample of the 2012’s that were aging. It was really good out of the barrel, but even better having completed its aging and is now available in the bottle.
Amizetta is a very small producer and some of the wines are only available through the winery’s wine club. They do distribute in Alabama and are available at the Wine Cellar. Also, Mason Dixon has it on the Bistro’s wine list when they can get the wines.
I’ve written a lot about the wines, but the food was excellent as well. I look forward to returning to Mason Dixon to try their regular menu. I can tell you, if the special menu we had is any indication, it will be a fabulous evening. I love sea scallops and lamb and the two dishes we had we cooked perfectly. The sleeper for me was the salad – from the description, I really didn’t know what to expect. However, the flavors went together so well and matched with the acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc. Another surprise was the Amuse Bouche – it was a savory macaron made with beets for the cookie and a goat cheese filling. I wouldn’t have minded a few more of those! While not technically a review of Mason Dixon, from what I experienced on this special event, the Bistro gets an enthusiastic “Come-Back.”
If you haven’t tried the Amizetta wines yet – you need to. So head down and pick up a bottle to enjoy. (Or better yet – plan on visiting the vineyard in the summer of 2016.) And if you haven’t tried Mason Dixon yet – well, make a trip down to Whitesburg for a visit.