Amigoni Declares Cabernet Sauvignon Crop Best in Years

14 Jun

Michael Amigoni of Amigoni Urban Winery in Kansas City, Missouri has declared that his current crop of Cabernet Sauvignon is the “best fruit in years.” Amigoni Winery is unique among vineyards and wineries in the state for chosing not to grow local grape varieties like Norton and Chambourcin that are better adapted to the humid summers and cold winters.  Instead, Amigoni defies Missouri’s often extreme climate and exclusively grows European vinifera including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Malbec and others.  Many local winemakers say the common European grape varieties are simply too difficult to grow and too many buds and plants succumb to the winter freeze.  Amigoni Winery has had success growing these grapes for more than a decade and agreed to talk about the recent crop with Regional Wine Taster… 

Amigoni’s current crop of Cabernet Sauvignon

How long have you grown Cabernet Sauvignon for and how much do you have planted?

We have about 1/2 acres of Cab Sav  now.  It is a clone 337 which we planted about 8 years ago and it seems to be as cold hardy as the Cab  Franc.

Can you describe how your fruit looks and what exactly warrants your expression of confidence in it? 

The mild weather in the winter allowed little if any bud death on the  plants.  So the buds were very healthy and with no frost to nip them this spring, the even fruiting allowed a very good fruit set of the  Cab Sav.  The clusters are long and full.

“It is double work or more to grow vinifera, but the rewards are awesome.”

How can you tell the fruit is the best in years? In terms of  quantity or quality? Both?

It is hard to say what the year will bear, but looking at the fruit at this time of year indicates that we will have a very good year and  I cannot remember when our fruit set was so good and healthy.  We would prefer the weather to stay dry to prevent any fungal pressure with black rot or powdery mildew.  It does seem that there is a little pressure from Japanese beetles but we will add more insecticide to the  tank mix to ward them off

Can you briefly explain a couple of techniques you use to help  your European vinifera survive the extremely cold winters here?

Since the vinifera is grafted to rootstock to prevent phylloxera we have to hill up dirt over the graft union so as to have  an insurance policy in case the buds were killed by a low temperature  winter.  This hill technique was started in the Finger Lakes of NY and  we actually purchased 8 years ago a side hoe to do this process.  We  have no fear of plant death, just bud death that would have us miss a  season of fruit. The hilling on dirt over the graft union would allow  us to keep the plant alive above the graft union in case of -11  degrees or lower.

Do you have to accept that a proportion of the crop will die each year to frost damage? Or not?

No. We fear the most a low winter temp to prevent a good budding of the crop.

How do your Cab Sav and other European vinifera cope with the  humiditity in summer?

The advancements of chemicals have allowed us to have a good toolbox of techniques to ward off the rots in case of a wet spring, summer or  fall.

To what extent do you believe the prevailing view among many winemakers that it is too  hard to grow European vinifera is wrong?

It is double work or more to grow vinifera, but the rewards are awesome.

How are your other grapes looking at the moment – your well-respected Cabernet Franc  for example?

We have across the board great fruit this year. Our Cab Franc, Mourvedre, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay, Viognier and Cab Sav are the best in years. We have new blocs of Mourvedre and Petit Verdot coming  on-line this year. We also planted Tannat and Teroldego this year.  The Tannat has the highest level of resveratrol of any grape in the world, so in a few years, it will be our health wine.

“The Tannat has the highest level of resveratrol of any grape in the world, so in a few years it will be our health wine.”

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