Thursday, 16 April 2009

Bruce Cunningham, X Winery / Amicus Cellars


There was an Aussie, an Englishman, and an American in a Swedish Bar tasting Californian wines. Sounds like the beginning of a really bad joke !. On April 1st 2009, I met up with Bruce Cunningham and Brad Schultze at Berns Hotel in Stockholm. Bruce is the Director of Sales and Partner at X Winery/Amicus Cellars which is located in Napa, California. Brad is the Business Development Manager at Muram International AB. The meeting was kindly arranged by Brad.

X Winery is the core brand of Amicus Cellars. X Winery was started by Reed Renaudin in 2001; Reed is the winemaker and CEO. Amicus Cellars produces 15,000 cases a year for sale in fine-wine shops, restaurants and a downtown Napa tasting room. Amicus Cellars celebrates the connection between wine and friendship; "amicus" is the Latin word meaning "friends". X Winery symbolizes the crossroads of where innovative and traditional winemaking meet. Amicus Cellars is independently owned as has a staff of 8 persons. The initial impression of all their wines is the packaging which is eye-catching, modern, and suggests hi-tech. All of the wines are very drinkable and incredible value for the money.

During winemaking, X Winery uses enzymes for for increased juice extraction and cultured yeasts for better control during fermentation and specific aroma and flavour extraction. All of the bottles labels are silk-screened printed whereby the ink is applied directly to the bottle which is then baked.

We tasted (all prices are the suggested consumer price, in Swedish Kronor, as given by Muram International) :

  • X Winery 2007 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was made from 100% Musque clone and aged for 3 months in stainless steel drums. 148 SEK.
  • X Winery 2006 X3 Tri-County Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were sources from Lake County High Valley appellation, Sonoma County, and Yountville and St Helena in Napa County. 189 SEK.
  • X Winery 2006 Red X. This is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Syrah, 12% Zinfandel, and 6% Petit Sirah. The grapes are 74% Lake County, 17% Paso Robles, and 9% Napa Valley. 148 SEK.
  • X Winery 2007 Nova Vineyards Zinfandel. The Nova Vineyard was planted in the mid 1960s. It is located on the benchlands of Kelseyville in Lake County. The vineyard is cerified as organic. 222 SEK.
  • X Winery 2005 Paso Robles Petit Sirah. This is a blend of 85% Paso Robles Petit Sirah, 10% Carneros AVA Syrah, and 5% High Valley AVA Cabernet Sauvignon. 248 SEK.
  • X Winery 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. 248 SEK.
  • Amicus Cellars 2005 Napa Valley Special Blend. This is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. The grapes are 98% Napa Valley Spring Mountain and 2% Lake County. 436 SEK.
  • Amicus Cellars 2005 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes come from 96% Napa Valley Spring Mountain and 4% St Helena. This wine received 91 points from Robert Parker in December 2008. 580 SEK.
My personal favourites were the X Winery 2007 Nova Vineyards Zinfandel and the Amicus Cellars 2005 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

The X winery range of wines probably will not be in the Systembolaget ordinary range since they are too expensive for the price point. The Systembolaget has puts its buying on hold for the non-base programs for US wines for the time being. The X winery range would probably be submitted should the hold be lifted. It is forseen that Muram will be selling the range through restaurants and their wine club.

Gina Richmond is the winemaker and Christine 'Maclean' Adams (or Cmac for short) is the marketing guru and blog-engineer for X Winery. X Winery joined Twitter at the beginning of this year, 2009, and established a page on Facebook five months ago. Following company policy, Christine tweets at least three times a day and spends 20 to 40 minutes in social-network interaction : posting links to interesting stories, responding to posts by Twitter “followers” (now nearly up to 300 !) or Facebook “fans”, and uploading content on Facebook. “It is a whole new level of communicating with consumers that was not really there before,” she says. Cutting-edge communication fits well with the brand’s image as an innovator and with the company’s small staff and marketing budget.

Website : X winery / Amicus Cellars
Website : Muram International AB
Website : Bruce Cunnigham
Website : Bradford Schultze
Website : Christine Adams
Website : American Wine Club
Website : Wineries plug into Internet social networks, North Bay Business Journal, March 30th 2009

1 comment:

Marquee Wines - Christopher Cribb said...

Good to see you making the world rounds Bruce, congrats on the Swedish partnerhips!

I would love to get in touch with Mr. Cheese to talk about what we have been doing in Sweden with VinoVativa AB as well as with X Winery and Amicus Cellars ourselves!

Cheers!

Christopher J. Cribb
GM - Marquee Artisan Wines
www.marquee.com