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Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Archive for January, 2011

Elements by Artesa – 2006 Red Wine / 2007 Merlot / 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by Gabe on January 25, 2011

One of the things about larger wineries that have lots of acreage under vine is that are often more grapes to work with. This can of course be an advantage on several levels. Primarily it allows the winemaker a wider selection from which to pick fruit for their most important wines. It can sometimes also allow the winemakers to take on projects outside the core releases. Such is the case with Carneros producer Artesa Vineyards & Winery. Those familiar with them know that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay stand at the heart of their operation. These are the core wines they focus on. But with hundreds of acres under vine they have many other grapes to work with. One of their current projects is the Elements by Artesa sub-label which they use to release some different varieties at a consumer friendly price-point. I recently tasted through the Elements releases and today I’ll look at three of my favorites.

First up is the Elements by Artesa 2006 Red Wine. This wine blends together fruit from Sonoma County (65%) and Napa Valley (35%). The fruit is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon (23%), Tempranillo (22%), Merlot (20%), Malbec (18%), Garnacha (11%), Petite Sirah (2%), Petit Verdot (2%), Graciano (1%), and Cabernet Franc (1%). Barrel aging was accomplished over 24 months in French oak. 4,400 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.99.

Wild strawberry fills the welcoming nose of this 2006 red blend. Recurring wisps of candied cherry provide a nice aromatic counterbalance. The lithe, medium bodied palate shows off red and black fruits such as currant, blackberry and cherry. Vanilla and cherry cola flavors are both in evidence on the finish. This wine has some bright fruit elements but those are balanced by good acidity, structure and nice length. Ultimately this is a perfectly dry wine built to pair with food. Whether that means Sunday dinner or Tuesday night with a slice of pizza is your call, either way lots of flavor for the price point.

Next up is the Elements by Artesa 2007 Merlot. This wine was produced using fruit sourced in both Sonoma (64%) and Napa (36%). In addition to Merlot (75%), Cabernet Franc (12%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Petite Sirah (1%), Petit Verdot (1%) and Syrah (1%) are also blended in. Each lot was fermented and barrel aged separately, the final blend was assembled prior to bottling. 3,000 cases of this release were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.99.

Red raspberry and rose petal aromas are both prominent in the nose of this 2007 Merlot.  This Merlot shows a juicy, yet balanced mid-palate which is also slightly austere in some ways. Lots of red and black cherry are on display throughout, along with bits of rhubarb. The finish shows off leather, sour cherry and copious spice elements in the form of clove, nutmeg and pepper. This wine has excellent structure and good acidity. Sad as this is to say there’s not a lot of Merlot in the $20 price range that actually tastes like Merlot, this one does and that alone is an accomplishment. Overall this is a nice value.

Finally today is the Elements by Artesa 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Just like the other releases, this wine is made from a combination of fruit sourced in Sonoma (62%), and Napa (38%). In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (86%), Merlot (7%), Cabernet Franc (4%), Petite Verdot (2%), and Malbec (1%) are also blended in. Barrel aging was accomplished over 24 months in French oak; 25% of the barrels were new. 8,000 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.99.

A compote of red fruit aromas fills the nose of this Cabernet. Cherry, raspberry and strawberry are at the forefront with wisps of vanilla providing some nice secondary aromas. The palate is loaded with continued elements of red fruits. Juicy cherry and strawberry star along with lots of spice characteristics. Both black and white pepper emerge on the finish along with earth and dust characteristics as well as tobacco and espresso flavors. This wine has supple, yielding tannins and sufficient acidity. For around $20 you’re going to get a very tasty Cabernet Sauvignon that is best suited for short term drinking.

This trio of wines from Elements by Artesa provides plenty of pleasurable drinking for the price point. Equally important, the Merlot and Cabernet are true to their varietals. The blend, as it should, combines attributes from a diverse array of fruits to create something unique.

Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Quinta do Vallado – 2007 Douro Red Reserva

Posted by Gabe on January 24, 2011

For the last few years table wines from Portugal have been gaining momentum on our shelves and our collective consciousness. Of course there’s still a ton of excellent Port coming from there too, but everyone knows that, right? Hopefully 2011 will be the year that these dry wines turn the corner and gain even greater acceptance here. The more we learn to appreciate them as a wine drinking country, the more and more we’ll see great ones on our shelves. Today I look at a Reserve release from Quinta do Vallado.

The Quinta do Vallado 2007 Douro Red Reserva was produced using fruit from the Vallado Estate in the Douro region of Portugal. The vines vary in age but some of the fruit is from vines with over 70 years of age on them. Each lot was fermented, vinified and barrel aged separately. In all more than 20 indigenous Portuguese varieties are included in this wine. Oak aging occurred in 225 liter new French Barriques. 3,333 six bottle cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $64.99.

Aromas of plum, mushroom and cedar lead the alluring nose of this 2007 blend from the Douro. The palate is simply loaded with oodles of dry, dark fruit notes. Cherries, blackberries, and cranberries lead the charge. An undercurrent of spice is present as well. These flavors come together and layer this wine with wave after wave of massively pleasing flavor and complexity. The finish is velvety with earth and continued spice at the forefront and dark chocolate and mineral notes at the very end. There is a persistence and length to this finish that makes it impressive and practically decadent.

This wine from Quinta do Vallado is particularly impressive for both it’s depth of flavor and it’s length. While it’s delicious the moment you pop the cork a couple of hours of aeration really allow it to open up and express itself. It also has the structure to age gracefully for a number of years. There isn’t a thing about this wine that is not both exceptional and impressive.

Posted in Blends, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Davis Bynum – 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Posted by Gabe on January 18, 2011

Certain appellation names resonate loudly when it comes to California Pinot Noir; Russian River Valley is certainly amongst their number. Russian River Valley has a relatively long history within California for producing Pinot Noir that is true to its varietal as well as site specific. Davis Bynum is one of the producers that have been a long term part of that history. They’ve been making Pinot there for decades and in 1973 they were the first in the region to make a single vineyard effort. Today I’ll look at one of their current release Pinot Noirs.

The Davis Bynum 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was produced using fruit sourced from several vineyard sites exclusively in their home appellation. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. After cool fermentation this wine was barrel aged for 9 months, entirely in French oak. 3,700 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $35.

Strawberry and red plum aromas are underscored by spice notes and a hint of earth and tobacco leaf in the full and expressive nose of this 2008 Pinot Noir. Black cherry dominates the palate along with hints of rhubarb and a subtle wisp of anise. Earth, black pepper, clove, nutmeg and sour cherry fruit flavors are all part of an even keeled but fairly lengthy and memorable finish.

This 2008 Pinot from Davis Bynum is a terrific wine all on its own, it also happens to be an excellent example of the kind of Pinot Noir that can be produced in the Russian River Valley. Within the last couple of years this winery was purchased by the folks who own Rodney Strong Vineyards. They produce their own excellent line of wines and it’s gratifying to see them shepherd Davis Bynum into the future as well.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Luigi Bosca – 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

Posted by Gabe on January 17, 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon is the varietal I was drinking most often when South American wines hit my radar years ago. Once I started drinking wines specifically from Argentina the quality of Cabernet available at modest price points was pretty staggering. Today our shelves have a host of offerings from Argentina all over the price and flavor map. One Producer I’ve been enjoying routinely over the last few years is Luigi Bosca. Today I’ll look at their current release of Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Luigi Bosca 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva was produced from fruit sourced at El Paraiso Vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. This vineyard sits more than 2,500 feet above sea level and the vines are 80 years old. This offering is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fermentation took place in stainless steel at controlled tempratures. Aging occurred in a combination of French and American oak over 12 months. This selection has a suggested retail price of $20.99

The nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with decadent, ripe, dark berry aromas. An undercurrent of cocoa plays a role as well. The palate is juicy with blackberry and fleshy dark plum both providing large parts of the flavor. Spice notes are in abundance as well with black pepper leading the charge there. This wine has a silky, velvety, pleasing finish that lingers for an impressive length of time. Tannins are firm but yielding and this wine has excellent structure and good acid.

For around $20 this represents an excellent value in Cabernet Sauvignon. If you drink Cabernet with a $35 or so price-tag from old world regions or even certain parts of California you’re likely to find that this wine blows away your expectations. This is another more than solid entry from Luigi Bosca.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine | Leave a Comment »


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