What We Say 2005 Napa / Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon
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Mission Codename: Best of Both Worlds
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Acquire a special allocation of Artesa’s Napa / Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Artesa Vineyards and Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Napa / Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Mark Beringer
The fruit for this delicious wine was sourced from Napa Valley, Alexander Valley and Knights Valley. Napa Valley is, of course, well known for its expectational quality Cabernet Sauvignon.
Alexander Valley in northeast Sonoma County is located on the western side of the Mayacamas range and extends westward to the edge of the Russian River Valley. This appellation was formerly considered a part of Dry Creek Valley but became its own appellation in November 1984. The region is best known for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but recently people are starting to discover its Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Chardonnay as well.
Knights Valley AVA, along highway 128 is located in Sonoma County at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains and next to Napa County. It is a small 55 square miles with about 1000 acres under vine. The gravel and rock soil and higher relative altitude is most influential to the exceptional Cabernet that grows there. The rustic and rural region is well known for its traditional northern California style.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful dark garnet and ruby with deep ruby-red reflections through its bright clear core. Along the edges the color lightens slight to ruby red and when swirled fat legs ‘appear’ on the side of the glass.
Smell – Medium bold in intensity with balanced aromas of ripe and tart black cherry and other black and red fruit, oak, and baking spices. A touch of smoke and dark mocha emerges along with subtle kernel notes.
Feel – This dry full-bodied wine is smooth and rich with finely-textured medium-firm tannins that are balanced over a kick of soft spice and bright acidity that lingers long into the finish.
Taste – Ripe and focused, great flavors of black and red cherry, are layered over sentimental baking spice and oak notes. A touch of smoke and dark mocha and vanilla adds a very approachable complexity to this wine.
Finish – Focused and clean, with lingering dark fruit, brown spice and smokey oak that makes the mouth water for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2005 Artesa Vineyards and Winery Napa / Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon is a delicious and shows its focused fruit extremely well. Layered into the ripe and rich fruit are brown baking spice, oak, smoke and mocha makes this wine super easy to enjoy. A lovely textured full-bodied structure stands up to food and will allow this wine to cellar for several years to come.
What follows, for your enjoyment, is a recap of Agent White’s original mission to Artesa, back in 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 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 Atresa 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 Artesa Vineyards and Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Artesa Vineyards and Winery
Awards & Accoaldes:
93 Points / Five Stars – Beverage Dynamics – “Bright, dark ruby in the glass; the nose reveals generous amounts of black cherry and plum, with hints of brown spices; the taste is dominated by black plum with blackberry notes; solid with good weight, texture and focus; the long finish maintains its balance all the way through.”
About This Wine:
Vibrant wild blackberry, dark cherry and cassis fruit ﬂavors are enveloped in a supple silky mouth feel with a touch of finely powdered tannin. The finish is dominated by this lively fruit entwined with cocoa, clove, allspice, vanilla, nutmeg and a hint of cedar smoke. This wine has sufficient tannin backbone and acid structure for aging.
The 2005 Vintage: The vines woke up early in 2005 getting an early start. May was very cool and wet, delaying bloom and harvest. This late start could have made for a problematic vintage, but an exceedingly benign and long Indian summer enabled harvest to last almost until Thanksgiving. We were able to harvest each vineyard block at its optimum ripeness. The grapes for this Cabernet Sauvignon were picked during the last week of October, a full two weeks later then usual.
About The Vineyards: This wine is a combination of three great Cabernet growing areas: Napa Valley, Alexander Valley and Knights Valley. Napa Valley produces the world’s greatest Cabernets because of its unique geology and climate yielding grapes that have both enough cool hang time and sunshine to develop great depth of flavor with natural acid. Above the Alexander Valley floor looms our mountainside estate.
Small intensely flavored berries result from our rocky soils and western sun-drenched slopes. All of our vineyards receive extensive hand work to manage correct shoot positioning, crop load and sun exposure. During harvest our winemaker spends 40% of his time inspecting and tasting our vineyards so that everything is handpicked at the peak of ripeness.
Winemaking: The grapes from vineyard blocks going into this wine were hand harvested in early morning. The berries were gently de-stemmed and just barely split open. A fifteen day post-primary fermentation extended maceration period built the mouthfeel and structure of this wine. Only free run is used in this wine. The wine goes directly to barrel and malolactic fermentation completes in barrel during aging. The wines were racked several times to incorporate air into the evolving wine. Merlot was blended in to soften this wine and Cabernet Franc was used to increase aromatic complexity. Syrah was blended in to add some leather and spice and a touch of Malbec to help round the finish.
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:
Mark Beringer – 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: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 4.5% Cabernet Franc, 4.5% Syrah, 1% Malbec
Vineyards: Napa Valley, Alexander Valley, Knights Valley
Harvest Dates: October & November 2005
Alcohol: 14.2% by volume.
Average time on skins: 22 days
Production: 18,000 cases produced
Cooperage: Aged for 25 months in 30% new, 70% used French Oak barrels