Margerum Amaro, 12 Year Solera
Doug Margerum’s AMARO (Italian for “bitter”) is wine fortified with barrel aged brandy, herbs (sage, thyme, marjoram, parsley, lemon verbena, rosemary and mint to name a few), bark, roots, dried orange peel and caramelized simple syrup. The wine has been aged in barrique outdoors and in. Forty individual ingredients make up the final blend. Enjoy neat after dinner as a digestive, or use it in a Perfect Manhattan. 23% alcohol, 16% residual sugar. 100 cases per year produced.
The label represents a two-faced winged man standing on a mezza luna, clutching a goblet of snakes with a skull tree and solitary bird by his side. What could be possibly more appropriate?
Background notes: Amaro (plural is Amari) is an Italian herbal liqueur, commonly drunk as an after-dinner digestif. It is bitter and sweet, usually with an alcohol content between 16% and 35%. Amari are produced by macerating herbs, roots, flowers and bark in brandy, mixing with sugar syrup, and allowing the mixture to age in casks or in bottle. Commercially produced Amari may contain “natural flavorings” and caramel coloring. A typical Amaro is flavored with several (sometimes several dozen) herbs and roots. Amari are typically flavored with gentian, angelica, cinchona bark, lemon verbena (cedrina), juniper, anise, fennel, ginger, mint, thyme, sage, bay laurel, citrus peel, cardamom, wormwood (assenzio) and centaurea minor. Amari are usually drunk neat.
About the Producer
Doug Margerum has been involved in the Santa Barbara food and wine scene for over 35 years. He owned Wine Cask, which in 1994 became one of 74 restaurants in the world to earn the Wine Spectator Grand Award. It was sold in 2007.
Doug launched the Santa Barbara Wine Cask Futures Program in 1984, which elevated the exposure nationally of Santa Barbara Wine Country. From 1986 to 1998, he owned Vita Novawinery with Bob Lindquist (Qupé) and Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat). In 2001, Margerum Wine Company began in a tiny 240 square foot cold room behind Brander Vineyards. The philosophy: return wine making to its previous form of production – handcrafted and personal.
Margerum Wine Company produces limited quantities of wines made from both grapes grown on the Estate Vineyard and grapes purchased from other top vineyards from in and around Santa Barbara County. The 18 acre Estate Vineyard is planted exclusively to Rhône grape varieties. The acreage is divided between limestone hillsides and gravelly alluvial flatlands along Alamo Pintado Creek. The wines are now made at their state-of-the-art winery located on Industrial Way in Buellton. Margerum carefully selects the vineyards with meticulous attention to detail in all factors influencing the ultimate quality of the wines, including pruning, soil, climate, and farming methods.
Margerum primarily produces M5 (a Rhône varietal red blend), single vineyard Syrahs, a co-fermented Syrah called Über, Sybarite Sauvignon Blanc, M5 White (a Rhône varietal white blend) and Riviera Rose. Doug works with the top vineyards from the cool, eastern end of the valley in Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara to the cold vineyards of Sta. Rita Hills towards the western end of the valley.
Doug’s unique background with retail wine sales, as the sommelier/owner of a Grand Award restaurant and as a wine maker made him sought out by a variety of wineries to assist in the formation of their brands. Doug has consulted for Chêne Bleu super Rhône wines in France, and continues to consult for Happy Canyon Vineyards, and Robert Lieff’s Tipping Tree wines in the Los Olivos District, all in Santa Barbara County, as well as the Santa Barbara wines of Paradise Springs Winery based in Virginia.