What We Say 2006 Pinot Noir Reserve - Carneros Estate
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Mission Codename: The Artist
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Artesa. Procure a secret final allotment of their 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir, a wine whose previous vintage was wildly popular with our Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Artesa Vineyards and Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Pinot Noir Reserve – Carneros Estate
Winemaker: Mark Beringer
Backgrounder: Some of our favorite California Pinot Noir comes from the independent Carneros viticultural area, a wine growing region which straddles the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Originally designated in 1983, the region’s distinct Terroir and cool climate make it one of the best regions for the Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The first grapes were planted here in the early 1800s by missionaries. The cool Carneros region provides ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir and Pinot thrives here.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Reminiscent of a French Burgundy, this wine shows off deep ruby and violet hues, right through the brilliant, clear core of the wine. Along the edge of the wine, where wine meets glass, the color lightens slightly, showing more pink than ruby. Tall, skinny legs move slowly down the glass after a hearty swirl.
Smell – Classic Carneros on the nose, with medium intensity red fruit of tart earthen cherry, cranberry, raspberry and red currant. As the wine opens up, additional aromas emerge, delivering soft earth, dusty minerals, subtle oak and a hint of cinnamon.
Feel – Light-weight and velvety across the entry. Then, the wine becomes grippy as it crosses the mid-palate. Overall, the wine maintains a bright, light and easy feel, and at the end it seems to grow on the palate, adding a bit of weight as fine tannins work a little magic on the tongue, lips and cheeks.
Taste – Led by young strawberry and early raspberry, this wine initially shows off bright red fruit. These are well integrated with under-notes of red currants, cranberry, earth, subtle fennel, subtle brown spices, and just a hint of light oak.
Finish – Focused and very clean, with lingering red fruit, minerals, brown spice and a hint of oak. These all create a mouthwatering effect that reminds you to take another luxurious sip.
Conclusion – The 2006 Artesa Vineyards and Winery Pinot Noir Reserve – Carneros Estate (say that five times, fast!) is a balanced wine that starts off bright and tart, but then exhibits a more austere side as it stretches out. Earthen flavors follow bright red fruit, and the light initial feel is replaced by a more full experience on the palate. Ready to drink now, this 2006 is a delicious and very food-friendly wine. Pair with a roasted pork shank, lamb chops or a hearty steak.
We were unable to sit down with Artes’s winemaking team today. What follows, for your enjoyment, is a recap of Agent White’s original mission to Artesa. The following mission is from early 2009:
Finally, I was able to wrangle a choice assignment away from Agent Red! And, while he did all of the leg work for today’s mission, I get the glory.
Red had Artesa under surveillance for a long time, probably too long. I all fairness, he did gather a great deal on intel on the winery and that set the stage for my quick infiltration. If any mission goes on for too long, I am usually the one that is called on to complete the mission – and get the wine.
Read Agent Red’s mission updates in the W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine for our newest Operatives) archives. For my part, I’ll just tell you that a couple of calls to senior management at Artesa was all it took to secure today’s wine.
Rather than bore you with those details, I do want to point out a few things about Artesa and their world-class team.
If you ever find yourself in Napa, a visit to Artesa is not just recommended, it is essential. The winery grounds, sculpture gardens, architecture, and winery are magnificent. One has the feeling of visiting a world-class art museum, a winery and even a place of worship when spending time at Artesa.
In my case, the winery was the place of worship! For all of Artesa’s ambiance and style, the winery is really the divine place where their great wines are born. A few afternoon hours with the great counter staff – spent tasting through their wines – was such a delightful treat. The people, like the wines, were great fun.
Artesa in the U.S. is the extension of a Spanish winemaking family that dates back to the year 1551, when the Codorníu family first made wine at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, in the Penedès region of Spain, just west of Barcelona.
The family continues making wines for centuries and in 1872, becomes the first in the world to make sparkling wines outside of Champagne in the méthode champenoise. This revolutionizes Spain’s wine industry.
In 1897, Codorníu is declared the exclisive supplier of wine to the king of Spain, King Alfonso XIII.
In 1915, the Codorníu winery build the world’s largest wine cellars, with five subterranean levels extending 16 miles.
The winery continues to grow and gain in prestige and honor for the next several decades. In 1989, they break ground on a revolutionary new winery in the Napa Valley. In 1991, Codorníu Napa opens as a méthode champenoise facility in the Carneros region of the Napa Valley. Those of you that know our tastes, know that The Wine Spies are enamored with the Carneros region.
In 1999, the winery is renamed Artesa Winery and releases its inaugural wines – two Chardonnays, three Pinot Noirs, and a Sauvignon Blanc – to critical acclaim.
Earlier this year, the winery is joined by one of America’s only multi-generational winemakers, Mark Beringer. In the United States, ‘multi-generational’ in winemaking usually means two or three generations have been involved in the craft. Mark, whose great, great grandfather was winemaking pioneer, Jacob Beringer, is a fifth generation winemaker and head of winemaking for Artesa and Ridgeline today.
Throughout his career, Mark has been recognized as a leader and a pioneer in the field of winemaking. He has received numerous kudos and awards, including Winemaker of the Year by The San Francisco Chronicle.
If you can’t make it out to Artesa, at least you’ll be able to get a taste of the place by picking up a few bottles of today’s great wine.
As for Agent Red, don’t feel too bad for him. He was pretty bummed out that I was able to close the deal with Artesa, but that case of Artesa Cab I secured for him is keeping him plenty happy. For the moment!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Alexander Valley AVA in Sonoma County can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Artesa Vineyards and Winery
About This Wine:
A bright Carneros Pinot Noir filled with aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry and red currant. This wine is beautifully subtle and multi-layered with hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, leather, cedar chest and smoke from a distant campfire. Combining both elegance and boldness, this wine is wonderful to drink now while it also has the concentration and complexity to age well for 5 years. Pair with braised beef, duck, goose, pheasant, lamb tangine, osso bucco, plank-roasted salmon, semi-soft, herbed and smoked cheeses.
The 2006 Vintage: We had signifcant flooding along the Napa River on New Year’s day, but this did not afect our vines in the least as our vineyards are all on hillsides or mountain tops away from food prone areas. The late cool wet spring lasted until mid-June, about 4 weeks later than usual. This late start to our growing season necessitated that we take action to ensure full ripe favors. We fruit thinned to adjust for this shortened growing season and removed more fruit zone leaves than normal to make sure our grapes stayed dry and sun exposed. This added fruit exposure allowed our clusters to hang rot free even after an early October rain. This added week of ripening was critical for the fruit favors and mouthfeel of our wines.
About The Vineyard: Our Pinot Noir vineyards span the entire cool-climate Carneros region. Temperatures are moderated by the adjoining San Pablo Bay, cool afternoon breezes and persistent morning fog. This climate yields grapes that have enough cool, hang time and sunshine to develop great depth of favor with great natural acid. In response to our late wet spring, we made an extra vineyard pass, hand removing excess fruit zone leaves. This assured that our fruit would get the full beneft of both our plentiful sun and wind, drying the grapes quickly and hastening full ripening.
Winemaking: Gently hand harvested, the grapes were destemmed without crushing. Our massive must chiller guarantees that our Pinot gets a slow cool start to its fermentation. Most lots were inoculated with one of several yeast strains; some lots went through uninoculated fermentations. A mixture of thorough punchdowns and gentle pumpovers gives color with texture. Pressed of shortly after dryness and aged in French oak barrels where the secondary malolactic fermentation occurs. Each barrel is tasted and selected for this reserve-tier wine to guarantee the greatest quality.
About The Winery:
Artesa is Napa’s newest, most exciting winery. Our architecturally-acclaimed facility opened as Codorniu Napa in 1991, dedicated solely to méthode champenoise sparkling wine production.
But in 1997, with the arrival of a world-class winemaker and a $10 million conversion, the winery shifted focus dramatically. Artesa was born with the inaugural release of ultra-premium still wines in September 1999.
Artesa (ahr TESS uh) means “craftsman” and connotes “handcrafted” in Catalan, language of Barcelona and our owner, Codorníu, one of the world’s largest and oldest wineries.
The Codorníu Group actually consists of eight spectacular wineries whose wines are enjoyed daily in over 100 countries around the world.
So, while we are Napa’s newest, our heritage is rich. We share five centuries of history with 15 generations of a remarkable winemaking family.
About The Winemaker:
Artesa Winery Vice President of Production and Winemaking A fifth generation winemaker from Napa Valley, award-winning winemaker, Mark Beringer, is proud to continue a family tradition of making high quality wines in California’s premier AVA’s. As the great, great grandson of Beringer Winery co-founder, Jacob Beringer, Mark has always aspired to make his contribution to California winemaking. He grew up immersed in the wine industry and knew from a very young age that winemaking was his calling.
At 12, Mark went to work at his parent’s local wine shop stocking shelves and dusting bottles. It was there that he quickly became versed in the complicated language of wine only to discover that all wines are not created equal. Yearning for more hands-on experience, Mark went on to learn the ins and outs of bottling, sanitation, barrel work and harvesting while working at his uncle’s winery while attending Santa Rosa JC, and later at California State University, Fresno where he graduated in 1990 with a B.S. in Enology. After graduation Mark joined the winemaking team at Glen Ellen Winery and spent the next year and a half learning the logistical side of winemaking at a larger volume winery.
In 1992, Mark was recruited by Dan Duckhorn to join the Duckhorn winery team as an enologist and to provide support to Tom Rinaldi. Mark welcomed the opportunity to return to the type of artisanal winemaking he was so passionate about. When Duckhorn Wine Company decided to expand its portfolio beyond the Bordeaux varieties in 1994, Mark was chosen to head up the project to launch Paraduxx, a unique blend of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Goldeneye, the winery’s Burgundy style wines from Anderson Valley.
In 1996, Mark was promoted to Vice President of Production and took on the tasks of managing a multi-brand, multi-facility company. In 1998, Mark was named Winemaker and in 2000, was promoted to Director of Winemaking. In 2005, The San Francisco Chronicle named Mark Winemaker of the Year for his work at Duckhorn Vineyards.
During Mark’s tenure at Duckhorn Wine Company he garnered two Winery of the Year titles from Connoisseurs Guide to California Wine, was named four times Regional Winery of the Year by Wine & Spirits Magazine and won the #6 rated wine of the year in the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2002 with the Duckhorn Vineyards 1999 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
In 2008, Mark founded Mark Beringer Consulting, working on a variety of projects within the wine industry before joining Artesa Vineyards and Winery as Vice President of Production and Winemaking in February, 2009.
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Vineyards: Four Carneros estate vineyards
Harvest: October 2006: average sugar at harvest, 25.1° brix
Alcohol: 14.3% by vol.
Cooperage: Aged for 9 months in 50% new, 50% used french oak barrels