The weather of 2014 was close to ideal for grape growing. Spring was quite temperate, and as is typical in the Walla Walla Valley and bud break occurred in mid-April. Summer was the warmest on record! The warm days continued into fall and were coupled with cool nights allowing for the perfect development of our trademark acidity.
The wines of this vintage are beautifully structured, ripe and expressive.
Estate Vineyards: 30% Pepper Bridge, 19% Seven Hills, 16% Summit View, 14% Les Collines, 11% Octave, 10% Goff
Oak Program: 96% French, 4% American; 76% Neutral, 24% New
Harvest Dates: 9/15 - 10/18/2014
2015 Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
Smells Like: black cherry, rose petal, lemon thyme, caramel, malted cocoa
Tastes Like: black raspberry, dark cherry, Italian plum, granite, slight herbal notes
Mouthfeel: beautifully round and bright, lush mouth-watering finish, well balanced
Drink With: braised beef ribs, garlic chicken wings, grilled portobellos, vanilla ice cream
Vintage and Winemaker Notes
The 2015 growing season was the latest in a trend of being the warmest on record for our valley, averaging almost four degrees above normal. The last week of June had the highest temperatures we’ve seen in that month! The record-breaking heat gave way to cooler days and nights around veraison, allowing the fruit to develop perfectly. The last week of August brought harvest: our earliest ever.
As we entered 2016, the good news was a parade of storms over the Cascade Mountains that dumped enough snow to significantly curb drought conditions that had concerned the region. In one month, the amount of snow that fell was greater than what we got in all of the winter of 2015. Wines of the 2015 vintage are richly structured,
showcasing ripe fruit and floral characteristics.
Estate Vineyards: 33% Pepper Bridge, 28% Summit View, 11% Seven Hills, 11% Les Collines, 9% Octave, 8% Goff
Oak Program: 96% French, 4% American; 73% Neutral, 27% New
Harvest Dates: 9/16 - 10/6/2015
2016 Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
Smells Like: fresh herb, tobacco leaf, dark cherry, blueberry, light mineral & floral notes
Tastes Like: raspberry, black cherry, berry cobbler, dusty malt, hint of wet river rock
Mouthfeel: velvety & approachable with smooth, lush, refined tannins
Drink With: blue cheese crostini, beef stew, grilled portobellos, chocolate chip cookies
Vintage and Winemaker Notes
2016 was the longest harvest we can remember. It was one of the earliest growing seasons on record, bud-break, bloom and verasion were all the earliest we have ever seen. For Amavi Cellars we started picking in August and didn’t finish until mid-October (just before the rain!). This combination of early and long created the best of both worlds. All in all, 2016 is poised to go down in the books as one of the most perfect growing seasons. April and May were warm and dry with temperatures jumping into the triple digits by early June. This hot start led to a large crop, with larger berries and cluster weights. We managed both the yields and water throughout our vineyards. By mid-summer, cooler temperatures arrived and continued through harvest. As things cooled significantly in late August and into September and October, it allowed for long hang times and optimal picking dates. The especially long season allowed the grapes to ripen slowly which helped preserve freshness and elegance in the finished wines.
Amavi Cellars signifies love (amor) and life (vita) through our wines, which are 100% estate, 100% Certified Sustainable, and 100% Walla Walla Valley.
Located in the heart of Walla Walla wine country, our winery & tasting room offer sweeping views of surrounding Pepper Bridge Vineyard as well as the beautiful Blue Mountains. Dedicated stewards of the land, we are committed to making a positive impact both within our estate vineyards and within our community.
Quality, hospitality and sustainability are our underlying values. Our estate vineyards: Les Collines, Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, Octave, Goff, and Summit View, are farmed sustainably. We build up the soil’s health rather than deplete it and seek out earth-friendly alternatives to fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. We are committed to not only preserving, but also improving the land for future generations. And we insist on having a good time while we’re doing it all!
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Really trying to get me to use that last coupon - I think they know verticals are my kryptonite. Out of my typical price range but it is walla walla… was almost turned off because I don’t have too many friends willing to commit an entire night to cab sauv… then I read that they were lightly blended, primarily cab franc and Merlot. Sounds perfect, but still gonna have to convince my better half. The timing couldn’t be any more perfect - made her favorite meal completely from scratch for Valentine’s Day last night so it might be an easy sell.
The arrival of the 2014 and 2016 bottles of Amavi Cellars couldn’t have come at a more perfect time since my husband and I had a Valentine’s Day evening planned with seven friends as the local steak house. Seven wine loving friends, I might add. The 2014 was very soft and not tannic at all, with lots of berry notes. Comments included “easy drinker”, “similar in taste and structure to a pinot noir” and “the finish is soft and stays in your mouth”. The 2016 was more complex and was everyone’s favorite. The nose had tobacco and leather. Again, the first sip was soft and not tannic with a cherry note at the finish. On my second tasting I noticed some caramel also. Being with such a large group we weren’t able to decant or slowly sip and analyze but everyone agreed, “This is great!”. Without question, both wines were excellent with the steak, but they were smooth enough to enjoy on their own, which is not always the case with cabs. I’m a fan of Washington wines and this did not disappoint! It’s a definite buy for me and I look forward to trying the 2015.
And from Wine Enthusiast:
2014 89 Points
Herb, plum, spice and black-currant aromas are followed by well-balanced fruit flavors. The tannins bring some dryness, needing time to stretch their legs. Give it a short decant. 7/1/17 SS
2015 88 Points
Vanilla, cherry, spice and herb aromas are followed by plump black-fruit flavors, with the tannins bringing a bit of grit and dryness on the back end. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 11/1/18 SS
Wednesday evening a mysterious email arrives, telling me wine is coming my way and that I will be experiencing my first-time lab rattage set for an offer on Friday the 15th. I was quite excited, a little nervous for my first time, and already scheming of ways to incorporate whatever was delivered, into our planned Valentine’s Day activities. Perhaps even passing it off as a “special purchase” and tasting event I had organized as a display of my love, surely adding points to the positive side of the scorecard she must keep tallying the pros and cons of her journey through life with me. Imagine my surprise when the package arrived, and there was not one bottle of wine, but two. Incorporating two bottles of wine into an already planned Valentine’s evening, quickly had me changing my thinking from romance to “things could get weird tonight”.
We received the 2014 and 2015 vintages. While I am a Cab guy, my wife is typically sticking to drier white wines, and avoiding most reds due to waking up with a headache and a very dry mouth. Seeing as there was no way to pass off opening two bottles of red wine before our dinner plans, without some serious judgement being passed, I had to confess that I had been chosen to be a Lab Rat. I explained the mission and opened the bottles. Upon first sniff, we both got dark berry/cherry from each of the vintages. The 2014 seemed to have a little more oak or vanilla coming through than the 2015. We each took our first sips with deep expressions of thought on our faces, clearly taking our job as rats very seriously. Both of us immediately said, “these are smooth!”, and the darling wife proclaimed “I could probably get into these”. Awesome! I love when I can get her to join me in drinking reds. I thought both could use a little time to open up, as everything, both smell and taste, was a little muted to me.
Since we now had 2 bottles of wine open at home, we nixed our dinner plans, and we prepared a quick dinner of flank steaks with a mushroom sauce and roasted potatoes mixed with some vegetables. I put on the “Jazzy Romance” playlist from Spotify and danced around the kitchen in a way that most likely had her questioning her commitment to me, but I was feeling it. I couldn’t help it. After our initial sips, I was really starting to get pumped on trying both vintages with the food. About an hour after opening we repeated our process of sniff, sip, pontificate. This time everything seemed to hit just a little bit harder. More fruit, maybe even a little sweetness, maybe green pepper and a black peppery bite on the 2014. Same for the fruit on the 2015, but this time with a little earthiness, that had me thinking rocks. My wife said, “these are some nice drinking wines, I could do these with or without food I think, it almost reminds me of Pinot Noir”. This was music to my ears as I knew I had her as a drinking partner for the night. One thing that really stood out for both vintages, was a long finish, oftentimes after a break of 5-10 minutes I could still get some taste in the back of my mouth that was very pleasant. They worked well with our dinner for the evening, but I really enjoyed them on their own. They didn’t taste BIG, had most of the personality of a typical Cab, but I felt they were a little more medium bodied and something that I could hang out with for a while without starting to feel like my mouth was overcome with dryness. Knowing Casemates and the deals they can provide, we both agreed that if these are anywhere near $15 they’d be a steal. There is now very little left of the 2015 vintage, and the 2014 is donezo. Both of us remarked this morning that we felt shockingly good, with none of the super dry morning mouth smacking wondering when the gremlins snuck in and fed us poop sandwiches while we were sleeping. Overall, highly recommend.
TL;DR - This is a great offering; if you like wine (duh, why else are you here?), buy buy buy.
Preface - After years of being on the Rat-wait-list I finally finally finally got my notification that I’d been selected to be a Rat… just in time to leave town for a few days Oh well. We picked up our mystery box and after much ado, got to tasting.
Pop-n-Pour & First Impressions - We received two bottles, a 2015 and a 2016. The labels were familiar to us as we’d picked up (and enjoyed) other Amavi wines from Casemate’s predecessor-that-shall-not-be-named a few years ago. Proper corks, both the 2015 and 2016 were the same lovely garnet color, the 2015 had a fairly robust nose of red berries (especially cherries), the 2016 had practically no nose whatsoever (wine-Voldemort?). Initial tastes were great but very different, the 2015 tasted like a run of the mill but solid cab. The 2016 was totally different, I’d say it was closer in character to a Pinot Noir or a more herbaceous old-world wine than a cabernet. The 2015 had a fair dose of tannins, to the point that my father thought it was too tannic (don’t listen to him, he’s a sissy when it comes to tannins) whereas the 2016 had next to none.
One Hour Intermission
Dinner Time! - We continued drinking the wine as the evening progressed, jotting down a few notes along the way. For pairings we had thick cut new york strip steaks, roasted potatoes, and a spring salad with a light white balsamic dressing. Both of the wines went well with the steak (duh ) but I’d say the more-traditionally cabby 2015 was better suited for the red meat. Neither of them were really acidic enough to stand up to the power of a fully armed and operational slab of red meat though. Back to the notes, here’s what we jotted down:
SWIMBO - Not very cabby. Well balanced as it crosses the tongue, bright notes of cherry at first but smooth overall.
YT – dusty cherries, decent tannins without being too astringent, on the bright side, perhaps a bit too much fruit but overall really good. I’d drink it on its own, rather than with food.
Dad – subtle hints of rose with wet platypus undertones (yea, he said that)
Mom – A lovely red with an usual flavor of rose.
SWIMBO – Liked the 2015 better but found the 2016 enjoyable, especially after it had time to breathe.
YT – Really different from the 2015. Surprisingly herbaceous for a cabernet sauvignon. More like a full bodied pinot noir than a cab. Good in its own right but not what I expected.
Dad – Didn’t write any notes because he was too busy drinking it. He loved it and drank most of this bottle.
Mom – Initially wasn’t a fan but after it had time to breathe she liked it much better. She said that it had the flavor profile of a pinot noir but was much much more full bodied.
Man, our notes suck. We were too busy enjoying the wine to write about it
Cellaring - I wouldn’t lay these down for too long but I’d say they’d definitely last for a few years. I don’t know how much it would add to either of them though so drink up!
One final note - I don’t come across them very often but I’ve been very impressed by a number of the Walla Walla wines in recent years. Fjellene, Bledsoe, and Amavi to name a few.