What We Say 2008 Carneros Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
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Mission Codename: Romancing Carneros
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Acquire a special allocation of Artesa’s Napa / Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Artesa Vineyards and Winery
Wine Subject: 2008 Pinot Noir Reserve – Carneros Estate
Winemaker: Mark Beringer
Backgrounder: Artesa Winery, in the Carneros region, is a Wine Spies Operative favorite. Wines from this exciting producer are commonly top-sellers, selling out quickly. Now under the direction of Michael Beringer (yes, from that Beringer family), Artesa’s winemaking takes a great leap forward. Their wines continue to improve, and they continue to hold a special place in our hearts.
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 – Like a fine French burgundy, this wine exhibits gorgeous tones of lilac and ruby. The core darkens slightly, but is perfectly clear. At the edge of the glass, the finest ring of pink runs a glinting circle around the wine. Swirl the wine, and skinny tears, stained the color of the wine, move swiftly down the glass.
Smell – Bold intensity, with red cherry, raspberry, cranberry, cassis, young strawberry and supple leather, out in front. Behind these, and as the wine opens up, bramble, dried earth, subtle fennel and soft brown spice are revealed.
Feel – Cool and light, at first, then quickly grippy. Plush tannins and a bright acidity add some excitement. After a moment, the dryness spreads outward to the lips and cheeks, where the create a mineral-laden dryness.
Taste – Cherry cordial, young strawberry, blackberry and dark plum take the lead. These primary flavors play with an underlying layer of clove, cinnamon, soft oak, subtle espresso and a hint of anise.
Finish – Very bright and focused, with red fruit, minerals and spice that tail off very slowly. As flavors subside, the wine has a mouth-watering effect that encourages you to have another sip.
Conclusion – The 2008 Artesa Vineyards and Winery Pinot Noir Reserve – Carneros Estate is a bright, flavor-filled and delicious wine that would be a perfect companion for many foods. Red fruit and earthen qualities create a very balanced experience. The long finish had our tasting panel really taking their time between sips. This wine is ready to drink now, but we are holding on to a few bottles for the next few years. Pair with a pan-fried pork chop, a pulled pork sandwich or a bowl of summertime chili.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Mark Beringer
AGENT RED: Greetings, Mark. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Artesa Reserve Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MARK BERINGER: Thanks, Agent Red. We’re happy to be with you, today.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MARK: Not particularly. I am a fifth generation winemaker who was born and raised in the Napa Valley. Winemaking has always been a way of life in my family, so I am just doing what comes naturally to me.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MARK: I spent a number of years working with Tom Rinaldi as his assistant winemaker. He taught me a lot about working with difficult varieties such as Merlot. He was also close friends with Bob Levy who was the winemaker for Merryvale at the time. I always enjoyed listening to Tom and Bob debate over winemaking philosophies. Of course, Bob went on to become the winemaker at Harlan Estate and makes some of the best wines in California.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MARK:I really just make wines the way I think they should be made. The most important thing to me is that you see the vineyard in the wines.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
MARK: The 2008 Artesa Estate Reserve Pinot Noir is very expressive of the Carneros region. When I think of Carneros Pinot, I want to see red fruits like cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. The wines from this region also express a nice floral component of rose pedals or lavender. The key is to keep the oak influences on the light side and allow the fruit to express itself fully. This offering has all of the nice fruit un front with the light toasty of the new French oak barrels in the background.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Carneros region so special?
MARK: The Carneros region is located very close to the San Pablo Bay (San Francisco Bay) and is known for being the coolest region in Napa Valley. The proximity to the bay lends morning fog and cool afternoon breezes that help the grapes retain their natural acidity. Our estate property is some of the highest elevation vineyards in the area. We have well sloped hills that have a high level of gravel that adds a minerality to the wines which in unique in Carneros.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MARK: We are currently in our blending season. This is the time of the year when we sit down and taste all of the individual wine lots and determine their quality. When then begin blending them together in the lab in a multitude of different concentrations in order to determine which components combine to make the best wine. During these several months, we will taste around a dozen wines several times per week.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
MARK: Although several of our wines are built to age, the majority of them are meant to be enjoyed in their youth. They are fruit forward and delicate in style. They can be enjoyed both with food or just by themselves.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MARK: Artesa has one of the best visitor’s centers in the area. We have a spectacular view of the rolling hills of Carneros with the bay beyond. On a clear day we can even see downtown San Francisco from our view deck.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Artesa Vineyards and Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Artesa Vineyards and Winery
About This Wine:
Heady aromas of raspberry, cherry and wild strawberry jump from the glass, tinged with notes of anise and coriander. Pure and vibrant, the wine delivers sweet red cherry and berry favors that pick up spicy notes of clove and cinnamon and a hint of toffee on the finish. Fruit concentration, bright acidity and velvety tannins are the hallmarks of this estate-grown Pinot Noir.
The 2008 Vintage: 2008 was another drought year in Napa Valley, making the vines relatively less vigorous with smaller berries. Bud break in Artesa’s Carneros vineyard occurred the usual time — from mid to late March — but a severe frost limited the crop size even further. The vineyard team worked hard through the season to ensure even ripeness among the berries. A long heat spell the first week of September signaled the beginning of harvest, however the temperature soon dropped drastically and the weather stayed cool and dry for the rest of the month. Our estate Pinot Noir grapes were hand harvested in September at full maturity.
About The Vineyard: The Artesa Estate Vineyard in Carneros is proven ground for Pinot Noir, which is planted primarily on the vineyard’s hillsides where the shallow, well-drained soils yield small, intensely favored grape clusters. In a series of small blocks varietals, clones, rootstocks and trellis systems are precisely matched with soils, topography, and sun and wind exposure, bringing complexity to Artesa’s estate Pinot Noir. The winery’s labor-intensive viticultural practices, including cane pruning, leaf thinning and hand harvesting, have led to healthy, balanced vines, many dating back nearly twenty years.
Winemaking: Hand harvested at night when temperatures are cool, the grape clusters were quickly brought to the winery where they were de-stemmed and carefully placed in a stainless steel tank for a five-day cold soak, a technique that gently extracts color, favor and soft tannin from the grape skins. Following a 10-day fermentation in stainless steel the wine was transferred to 100% French oak barrels (40% new) where it aged for 10 months. The wine was bottled without fining.
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: Artesa Estate Vineyard
Harvest: September 25-28, 2008; average sugar at harvest, 25° brix
Alcohol: 14.3% by vol.
Cooperage: Aged for 10 months in 40% new, 60% used French oak barrels