94 Back Story: Essence of Lux­ury

Wynn Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Heidi Mitchell

Wynn teams with Molton Brown to launch a new line of bath­room ameni­ties that are as in­dul­gent as they are ex­otic.

eauty is fleet­ing. Maybe that’s why some of the more ar­tis­ti­cally tal­ented among us feel com­pelled to make it their life’s work to cap­ture it—whether on can­vas or in a bot­tle. Wine­maker John Schwartz and his part­ner, Heidi Bar­rett, have found a way to cap­ture them both at once. Since they launched the Napa-based la­bel Amuse Bouche in 2002—an homage to the soft yet struc­tured al­lure of the Mer­lot-cen­tric right bank

Bof Bordeaux—schwartz and Bar­rett knew that they wanted the wine to res­onate for both the eye and the palate. Each Amuse Bouche la­bel has fea­tured orig­i­nal work from some of the world’s most fa­mous mod­ern artists, in­clud­ing Guy Buf­fet (2002 and 2003) and Marc Clauzade (2013), as well as world-renowned tal­ents of another kind who dab­ble in paint and can­vas, like Tony Curtis (2010) and, the sur­prise for 2014, Bob Dy­lan. “Both Heidi and I love art—she’s an artist her­self,” he says of the for­mer Scream­ing Ea­gle wine­maker. “When we started, we were inspired by Mou­ton Roth­schild‘s artist la­bel se­ries, but Amuse is dif­fer­ent.” For one, art com­mis­sioned for the Amuse la­bels is pro­duced as a litho­graph on a 300-year-old press in Paris. Each is signed and num­bered, al­low­ing those with a spot on the pro­duc­ers’ ex­clu­sive mail­ing list to re­ceive one of the valu­able pieces of art. “We do it to fo­cus on truly iconic artists—and we pay a lot. Some orig­i­nals sell at $500,000 or more.” The orig­i­nals are kept at the win­ery, and their fame and the wine’s fame are of­ten in­ter­twined. “Some­times some­one might say, ‘I love the ’04 vintage—but then some­one else will re­fer to the same bot­tle and say, ‘I love the Leroy Nieman vintage,” laughs Schwartz. But with two su­per­star wine­mak­ers at the helm, the wines are in­deed fa­mous in their own right. “Heidi and I wanted to

With Amuse Bouche, Napa wine­maker John Schwartz fnds that beauty is in the eye—and on the lips—of the be­holder. Amuse Bouche gets a lit­tle Caber­net Franc blended in, adding back­bone and struc­ture to the Mer­lot.

dis­pel the no­tion that Napa, which has been known for its Cabs, could not also make world-class Mer­lot like Petrus,” he says of the sto­ried right­bank Pomerol pro­ducer in Bordeaux. “We set out to craft an amaz­ingly de­li­cious right-bank style us­ing Mer­lot and Caber­net Franc.” The blend is con­sis­tently Mer­lot-heavy, com­pris­ing 93 to 97 per­cent of the wine. “For a long time and even to­day, many [Amer­i­can] winer­ies make Mer­lot as a lesser va­ri­etal and as a blend­ing tool, un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the com­plex­ity it has. Amuse Bouche gets a lit­tle Caber­net Franc blended in, adding back­bone and struc­ture to the Mer­lot, which is so volup­tuous and soft. It’s a great food friend!” Per­haps some of the beauty is in the bot­tles’ rar­ity. To find them, you can fly to Dubai, Tokyo, and Bei­jing—or visit any of the fine din­ing es­tab­lish­ments at Wynn and Encore, which cur­rently have the 2008 and 2010 vin­tages in stock, thanks to the re­sort’s re­la­tion­ship with the wine­mak­ers. “We don’t do a lot of di­rect con­sumer and se­lect dis­tri­bu­tion,” of­fers Schwartz. “Wynn is one of the few ac­counts that gets good al­lo­cat­ing.” Schwartz knows that pro­duc­ing a bot­tle with a lay­ered con­nec­tion to beauty has a lan­guage of its own. “I’ve been all over the world, and it’s fun to see your pro­ject ev­ery­where you go. Ten years ago, I was in Tokyo hav­ing din­ner and the waiter came to me and said, ‘There’s some­one here drink­ing your wine and she wants to meet you.’ It was Cameron Diaz!” Far-reach­ing fame aside, Schwartz re­mains grounded in his deep-dig­ging Cal­i­for­nia wine­mak­ing roots: “I’m proud of it. It’s who we are. Heidi’s trade­mark is mak­ing wines that are bal­anced; we make wines that age and that stand the test of time,” he says. “We make wine we love—not wine for crit­ics.” What they make, per­haps, is wine for the true art lover.

Amuse Bouche’s 2008 vintage, whose la­bel by the late Pop artist Steve Kauf­man hon­ors wine­maker Heidi Bar­rett.

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