My readers may recall that not long ago I attended the 2011 DrinkLocalWine conference in St.Louis, where I sampled dozens of Missouri wines from around the state. While I was pleasantly surprised that many of them were worth drinking, it also reinforced my lack of enthusiasm for Norton, the official Missouri wine grape. Also known as Cynthiana, it has strong acidity and can be a bit harsh. Food tempers it, as does giving it time to breathe.
But it’s not my grape of choice, which may be why I was so taken with Michael and Kerry Amigoni when I first met them.They own and operate Amigoni Urban Winery, with a vineyard located in Centerview, MO and a tasting room in the Stockyards District at 1600 Genessee. He concentrates on the science (growing, producing) and she handles the business side of the venture.
They are not fans of Norton either but, unlike most Missouri wine producers, they were convinced that Vinifera ( a vine native to the Mediterranean) could be grown with consistency in our wild climate. With extreme cold and heat, that’s a tall order, but the Amigonis set out to grow California-style grapes such as Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Mourvedre, Carigan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. And they have more than succeeded in their quest–Michael and Kerry are producing top quality wines that favor comparably to those being grown in California. In fact, I believe his reds would fare quite well in a blind tasting with some of the big names out west. (His whites may as well, but I’m a red wine drinker, so I can’t speak to that with certainty.)
Michael has taken it a step further and has just bottled the Amigoni label’s first rosé, made from his Mourvedre grapes. Rosé has been making a comeback for years, though some still think it’s the same as the Sutter Home White Zinfandel blush wine that was making the party scene in the nineties. But a fine rose such as the Amigonis’ thankfully bears no resemblance to that.
I attended the release party for the rosé at Genessee Royale bistro last week. The restaurant is across the street from the couple’s tasting room, so it was a natural partnership. Owner Todd Schulte prepared small plates that paired beautifully with the rosé, which allowed the wine to be presented at its best.
We enjoyed the rosé so much that we bought a case on the spot. (Yes, we are friends, but my husband would never have bought more than a few bottles if he/we hadn’t enjoyed it so much). At $14 a bottle, it’s a great value. And it’s such a food-friendly wine that I look forward to sipping it throughout the summer no matter what is on the menu.