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Neyers Vineyards Bruce's Journal

James Suckling offers his perspective

By Bruce Neyers

Wednesday 21st December, 2022

I’ve long admired James Suckling, and I’ve come to appreciate not only his tasting ability, but his comprehensive knowledge of the information behind the wines that he reviews. Like Robert Parker, he’s an information mill, and it’s impressive to watch it unfold.

Last week, James reviewed our 2018 ÂME Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon in his on-line newsletter, and we were so pleased with his comment that we wanted to pass them along. Here’s what he had to say:

Neyers 2018 AME Cabernet Sauvignon
“A full-bodied and compact cabernet sauvignon with a rich but fresh nose full of cassis, blackberries, cocoa powder and black olives. A full-bodied and flavorful palate with tons of powdery tannins. Long and concentrated. Drinkable now, but will improve in the next 3-4 years. Better after 2024.
93 POINTS” James Suckling

The ÂME Vineyard sits at the highest elevation on our Conn Valley Ranch, covering three acres that run south to north and rise from 800’ elevation to about 1000’. The wind is constant up there, so the temperatures are lower, and the grapes are normally the last on our property to ripen. The soil is a sheet of Basalt, and when David Abreu planted the vineyard in 1998 and 1999, he cross-ripped the hillside for two years to break up the rock. We then spent another year installing drain tile, following an elaborate erosion plan drawn up by a local engineering firm. The parcel is planted to 3’ X 6’ spacing, with Rootstock 420A and 3309 budded to plant material from Abreu’s Thorvilas Vineyard. ÂME is the French word for ‘SOUL’ and contains the first name initial of our three children — Alexandra, Michael and Elizabeth.

In the early days of my wine career, I had the great opportunity to work with two enlightened wine lovers, Balfour Gibson and Art Formicelli, brothers-in-law who were partners in Connoisseur Wine Imports. Both are gone now as is the store, but I owe them beyond words for their patience, generosity, and kindness. Among the many things they taught me was a love of pasta, especially when paired with a great bottling of Cabernet Sauvignon from France or California. When I showed the Suckling review to Barbara, she wanted to try a bottle, and offered to make one of my favorite pasta dishes — Orecchiette with pancetta, bread crumbs and Morels. Our local grocery store had happened upon some of the most delicious-looking Morels, and Barbara decided we should have some of them for dinner. The dish was delicious, and I mouthed a quiet ‘Thank You’ to Art and Bal as I drank the 2018 ÂME with a bottle of old red Bordeaux from our cellar. Here’s Barbara’s recipe. Enjoy the dish.

Orecchiette Pasta with Morels and Breadcrumbs

Serves 4


  • Dry Orecchiette pasta
  • 1 and 1/2 cups morels, cleaned and sliced into 1/8-inch pieces
  • 1 small white onion finely minced
  • 2 slices Pancetta ¼-inch thick, cut into lardoons
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper


  1. Sauté the breadcrumbs in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, or enough olive oil to moisten them. Turn the breadcrumbs with a fork while cooking until they are lightly browned and crunchy. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Sauté the pancetta until crisp and set aside.
  3. Cook the orecchiette pasta according to the directions on the box.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, combine the minced onion, morels, salt and pepper in a sauté pan, and cook until the morels are tender.
  5. Combine the pasta, morels, onion, and pancetta.
  6. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
  7. Before serving, sprinkle each plate of pasta with the sautéed breadcrumbs
AME Vineyard Hill Block
Looking south through the ÂME Vineyard parcel. In the near distance is the Hill Block, followed by the House Block, and then the Pump Block. At the base of the distant hill is Conn Creek, which flows right to left through our property from Howell Mountain. The structure surrounded by trees is our home. The tallest of those trees, by the way, are Coastal Redwoods. We planted them from 8-inch seedlings when we moved on to the ranch in January 1985. There were no vineyards or trees on the property at the time.
Orecchiette Pasta with Fresh Morels

Barbara’s Orecchiette pasta with fresh Morels and Bread crumbs. She adds Pancetta, thickly cut and sautéed.

AME Vineyard Summit

The ÂME Vineyard again, looking northwest to the summit. This was in March as the vines were recently pruned, and about to emerge from dormancy.

AME Cabernet Sauvignon Label

AME Cabernet Sauvignon