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Arietta Quartet 2009

With this fourth vintage, 2009 Arietta Red Wine "Quartet", we introduce a new primary vineyard source: three acres of closely spaced vines planted by viticulturist David Abreu in 2003. The vineyard, located in the relatively cool climate of Coombsville, was planted as if it had been designed for Arietta Quartet: just under two acres of Cabernet Sauvignon (Clones 4 and 337), a half-acre of Merlot and a quarter acre each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The fruit produces wine which is plush and classy without being heavy - ideal for Quartet, which is made to be approachable upon release. We spend many happy hours blending Arietta Quartet, which is composed of numerous small lots. The judicious addition of fruit from Arietta's sources in Calistoga and Carneros adds depth, balance, and complexity. Ready to enjoy now, the Arietta Quartet 2009 should evolve beautifully in bottle for five to ten years.

Notes from winemaker Andy Erickson:

"The Arietta Red Wine "Quartet" 2009 blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot in perfect harmony. The four Bordeaux varietals come together to form a richly layered, mouthwatering, very seductive wine. The Arietta Red Wine "Quartet" 2009 displays a bright, aromatic, expressive red and black fruit character which is a hallmark of the 2009 growing season. Notes of red currants, raspberry, licorice, and toasty oak provide a completely satisfying experience, even at this early stage in the wine's life. The high fruit tones provided by the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are supported by the richer, darker aromas and flavors of Merlot and Petit Verdot, and together give the Arietta Quartet 2009 superb balance, rich texture, a broad spectrum of aromas and flavors, and a lingering finish."

Blend: 62 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot
Fruit Sources: 70% Coombsville, 20% Carneros, 10% Calistoga
Cooperage: 60% new French oak, 40% second use French oak
Production: 1100 cases

Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

This is the sixth vintage of Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon and for sheer beauty at birth the finest produced to date. The core of the 2009 Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon is Cabernet Sauvignon from Arietta's sensational southwest facing two acre block in Coombsville, situated in rolling volcanic terroir in the shadow of Mount George. Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is most remarkable for its "velour," or velvety and supple character which masks most of its tannin. This sophisticated wine has the majesty, depth and tannin to support an evolution in bottle for ten years or more.

Arietta White Wine On The White Keys 2009

When we imagined an ideal Arietta white wine five years ago the Arietta White Wine "On The White Keys" 2009 is exactly what we had in mind: a California grown and styled wine inspired by and able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the finest white wines of Bordeaux. This year's offering, the best to date, features a fragrant perfume of orange blossom, lemon oil, and cardamom and a lively acidity which atomizes the fresh fruit character of the wine. The cool, long 2009 growing season delivered fruit with lower potential alcohol and great acid balance. The very slow barrel fermentation of the 2009 Arietta White Keys added breadth, depth and layering of flavors. This year we succeeded in arresting malolactic fermentation in the Sauvignon Blanc, allowing us to emphasize the grapefruit, lemon peel, and lychee notes on the palate. The Semillon, comprising 22% of this year's blend, completed its malolactic fermentation, adding viscosity and persistence to the finish. The Arietta White Keys 2009 has been a sensational wine to drink since its bottling in early June, and should remain so for several more years at least. (350 cases)

Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

A classically balanced expression of Napa Valley, the 2008 Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits the hallmark characteristics of this variety from the southern end of the Valley: aromas of graphite, sage, and cassis, and flavors of rich currant imbued with a subtle minerality, all housed in a structured and ageworthy frame. Arietta's extraordinary two acre block of Cabernet Sauvignon, located in the cooler climes of Coombsville, is the core of this blend. Planted on volcanic soils, the Arietta Block produces wine with deep, dark color, strong tannins, and varietal purity. A substantial dollop of Cabernet Franc from the Hudson Vineyard in Carneros and a hint of Petit Verdot add high notes and bass tones to the Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon. In the 2008 vintage a dry spring, naturally low yields, and a long growing season helped produce a wine of great depth and concentration. Under winemaker Andy Erickson's watchful eye, careful sorting, native yeast fermentation, a long, controlled maceration, minimal racking, and avoidance of fining and filtration enhanced the intensity, length, and "bloom" of the wine. The 2008 Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon will benefit from five or more years of cellaring, with the ideal window for drinking from about eight to fifteen years after the vintage. (270 cases)

Arietta Quartet 2008

The principal Bordeaux varieties combine in four-part harmony to produce the Arietta Quartet 2008. This third vintage of Arietta Quartet, a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot, is selected from top lots sourced from Arietta's ten blocks of Bordeaux varietals located in the cooler climates of Napa Valley. Forward, lifted aromas of blueberry, raspberry, flint and baking spice are immediately apparent in the glass. Displaying polished tannins, the Arietta Quartet 2008 is soft on entry, with the fruit flavors building on the palate to a long, rich finish. The Arietta Quartet 2008 will be enjoyable upon release, but should age and improve in bottle for several years and drink well for ten. (500 cases)

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2008

The Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2008 is the first ever release of a 100% varietal Cabernet Franc made from the H Block on Lee Hudson's Ranch on the Napa side of Carneros. The fabulous quality of the 2.3 acre H Block has been well recognized since it reached full production in 1990, and incredibly enough, this is the first time that its Cabernet Franc has ever been released unblended. For the Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards we normally prefer the additional layering and complexity provided by the addition of Merlot, but this time through all blending trials the "pure H" stood out as the most complete, complex, and well balanced wine. Welcome to the long overdue debut of the "pure H"! Its moment on stage will be brief; the Arietta H Block will return to its traditional Saint-Emilion style blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot in the 2009 vintage. Winemaker Andy Erickson comments: "the later-ripening Cabernet Franc benefited from a mild, relatively warm autumn, allowing the fruit to mature well into October. The resulting Cabernet Franc wine is incredibly pure, deep, and complex, with notes of roasted coffee, lavender, pencil lead, and ripe fruits. The wine's depth, balance, and seductive texture are most impressive." (230 cases)

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2008

The Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2008 is the ninth vintage for our innovative blend of Syrah and Merlot grown on the Hudson Ranch in Carneros. Like a unique and treasured color in an artist's palette, Arietta Red Wine Variation One excites chefs and wine buffs who prize its distinctive flavor profile. The blend of the Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2008 is similar to recent years - 55% Syrah and 45% Merlot. Winemaker Andy Erickson notes: "The deep, dark, brooding character of the Syrah makes the first impression. Aromas of roasted meat, black cherries, and menthol follow through to the palate. The tannins are mouth-filling and chewy, while the intense fruit character helps to round out the wine and add length. The later ripening of the Syrah in 2008 did not allow us to co-ferment with the Merlot, production of which was dramatically reduced by spring frosts and rain during bloom. However the small quantity of Merlot produced was dense, juicy, and fruit forward, and blends perfectly with the powerful, dark, mocha elements of the Syrah." (300 cases)

Arietta White Wine On The White Keys 2008

The 2008 Arietta White Wine "On The White Keys" is our labor of love. Managing the barrel fermentation of one to three barrels each of up to a dozen different lots requires patience, especially in a vintage like 2008, which took on average six months to ferment. The slow gestation produced a wine generous in volume and with mouth-coating flavors, similar to the White Keys' inaugural vintage (2005), even with a relatively low percentage of our old-vine Semillon (13%) added to the hillside Sauvignon Blanc. The blend is classically White Bordeaux, but the vineyard sources, barrel fermentation, and earlier bottling to preserve freshness give Arietta On The White Keys a flavor profile "sui generis." The White Keys has the power and complexity to match a wide range of foods, including cooked fish and vegetable dishes, and artisanal cheeses. We make 350 cases of "White Keys."

Arietta Quartet 2007

Arietta's evolution continues with the release of the "new" Arietta Quartet 2007. This wine, with a new price point and a new label inspired by next generation Arietta owner Libby Hatton, is an irresistible blend of Bordeaux varietals from Arietta's portfolio of first-class blocks in Napa vineyards. The composition of the wine is 51% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Critic Robert Parker advocates the Arietta Quartet 2007: "The dense purple-hued 2007 Quartet possesses abundant notes of sweet cassis interwoven with acacia flowers and crushed rocks. Deep and medium to full-bodied with excellent texture, richness, and sweetness, it should drink beautifully for two decades or more."

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2007

The Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2007, Arietta's distinctive and dynamic "marriage of opposites," is a co-fermented blend of 55% Syrah and 45% Merlot, from the finest rows on the Hudson Ranch. The 2007 tops the critics' charts. Parker writes: "A sensational effort, the 2007 Variation One displays a vivid, super-fragrant perfume of bouquet garni, white chocolate, blackberries, plums, and subtle smoky oak. Full-bodied with silky tannins, a decadent opulence, and a sumptuous texture, this is a head-turning, full-bodied, expressive wine to enjoy over the next 15-20 years."

Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

The core of the Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 is Cabernet Sauvignon from the sensational Arietta Block in Coombsville. This small cool-climate viticultural area (about four square miles) just east of the town of Napa is the source of spectacularly good Bordeaux varietals, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, which flourishes in the volcanic ash at the foot of Mount Saint George. Arietta winemaker Andy Erickson caps the Arietta block's production at two and a half tons per acre in order to assure uniform ripeness and concentrated flavors at harvest. The beautiful harmonics of the Arietta Cabernet 2007 gain additional complexity and overtones through the addition of Cabernet Franc (17%) and Petit Verdot (3%). Critic Steve Tanzer notes: "Bright, saturated ruby. Vibrant aromas of black fruits and licorice. Densely packed and shapely, with good floral complexity and definition to the highly concentrated dark fruit and mineral flavors. A very young and gripping cabernet with noble tannins and superb length." Production of this wine is 250 cases and distribution is limited to Arietta's mailing list.

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2007

Of the Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2007, critic Robert Parker writes: "A prodigious wine, the 2007 Proprietary Red H Block Hudson Vineyard (a blend of 55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot) boasts a deep purple color as well as a gorgeously sweet nose of lead pencil shavings intermixed with spring flowers, black raspberries, black currants, and incense. Deep and full-bodied with a stunning texture, sweet tannin, and superbly integrated acidity, alcohol, wood, and tannin, this 2007 should age effortlessly for 20+ years."

Arietta White Wine On The White Keys 2007

Arietta's distinctive white wine, "On The White Keys," makes its third appearance in the 2007 vintage. The blend of the 2007 White Keys (81% Sauvignon Blanc and 19% Semillon) fits the profile of the previous vintage, with greater intensity of flavor, thanks to superb harvest conditions in Arietta's rare hillside blocks of Sauvignon Blanc on Sonoma Mountain. The bright aromas and flavors of grapefruit, pear, fresh-cut hay and white pepper are lengthened and broadened with the addition of old-vine Semillon from Hyde Vineyards in Napa/Carneros. The Semillon adds aromas of flowers and flavors of honey, and further balances the wine by providing a more viscous texture. Barrel fermented in French oak (30% new) and stainless steel barrels, Arietta On The White Keys 2007 has the complexity, power, and length to complement a wide range of foods, including fish, cheese, and vegetable dishes (even artichokes!). Production: 350 cases

Arietta Merlot Hudson Vineyards 2006

The fabulous 2006 vintage was particularly kind to Merlot. The superb quality along with the quantity (2.2 tons to the acre!) of the Merlot from Arietta's naturally shy bearing N Block on the Hudson Ranch in Napa/Carneros afforded us the opportunity to produce the first Arietta Merlot Hudson Vineyards since the 2002 vintage. The flavors of minerals interwoven with dazzling black berry fruits make for a surprisingly complex wine unlike any other Merlot produced in California. Wine critic Stephen Tanzer notes: "Good full ruby-red. Captivating aromas of black raspberry, smoked meat, bitter chocolate and minerals. Lush, sweet and seamless, with a deep core of raspberry and chocolate flavor firmed by minerality and complicated by a saline nuance. Deep, sexy, chewy wine, finishing with building tannins and excellent length. Merlot with real personality." Production: 300 cases

Arietta Quartet 2006

Arietta Quartet, a Bordeaux-style blend, makes its debut in the 2006 vintage. "Quartet" is a musical reference to the four "voices" contributing to the blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The Arietta Quartet 2006 was sourced from Arietta's blocks in the meticulously farmed Lucia Abreu Vineyard at the top of Howell Mountain, with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Madrona Vineyard in Saint Helena. The 2006 Quartet displays the hallmarks of the vintage-precocious and fruit-dominated aromatics, tremendous opulence, and a rich, sensual texture with fruit burying the substantial tannin in the wine. While Arietta Quartet 2006 sings in superb harmony upon release, the patience to wait several years will be rewarded with further evolution in bottle. Production: 500 cases

Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Arietta's fourth vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon marries fruit from three fabulous sites: Cabernet Sauvignon from the Thorevilos Vineyard on lower Howell Mountain and the Meteor Vineyard in Coombsville, and Petit Verdot from the Lucia Abreu Vineyard at the top of Howell Mountain. The blend is 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot. The 2006 Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon's rich and attractive aromas are complemented by the ultra ripe fruit flavors and sensual texture of the wine. Critic Steve Tanzer notes: "Deep blue-tinged ruby. High-pitched aromas of cassis, blackberry, violet, menthol and mint. At once juicy and smooth, with intense black fruit flavors supported by a firm structural underpinning. Finishes long, fresh and youthfully medicinal, with fine tannins arriving late and coating the teeth. Elegant and strong." Production: 170 cases

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2006

The patience to leave Arietta's Syrah on the vine until the end of October was a key factor in the creation of the richest, most harmonious Arietta Red Wine Variation One ever produced. The Syrah from Arietta' sixteen rows in the rockiest part of Hudson Block 4 was co-fermented with Merlot from Arietta's Hudson N Block. Winemaker Andy Erickson raised the percentage of Merlot in the 2006 Variation One to 45%, providing a good dose of civility to the wildness of the Syrah. The Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2006 is a generous, complex and exciting wine, unique in its blend and flavor profile, and not to be missed. Critic Stephen Tanzer writes: "Wild aromas of mocha, graphite and game, with a complicating note of roasted nuts. Sweet, plush and seamless, but with excellent energy to the layered black fruit flavors. This comes across as remarkably vibrant for a wine with a pH of 3.9. Finishes with building but very fine tannins and excellent length." Production: 500 cases

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2006

The majestic 2006 Arietta H Block reverts to its typical blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot. This proportion is the same as the highly successful 2002 Arietta H Block as well as H Block's mentoring wine, Chateau Cheval Blanc, one of the two First Growths of the Bordeaux Right Bank. The Cabernet Franc and Merlot are co-fermented and the wine is aged for twenty months in highest quality new French oak barrels. The plush character and relatively high pH of the 2006 Arietta H Block is a result of the very long 2006 growing season and an unhurried harvest. The breadth and ripe fruit of the wine will make it relatively flattering to drink while young, but tremendous stuffing and depth will promote development in the bottle for fifteen years, at least. Critic Stephen Tanzer notes: "Good deep ruby. Black raspberry, mocha and menthol on the nose. Sweet, creamy and densely packed, with rather wild flavors of raspberry, mocha, game and tobacco. Structured, backward wine with terrific length. The building tannins show full ripeness." Production: 450 cases

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2005. A sensational wine, the product of the greatest vintage for Cabernet Franc in Arietta's ten-year history. This year's blend of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot harks back to the other "high Franc" vintage for Arietta, the superb 1997. One hundred percent co-fermented, the Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyards 2005 displays great balance, tactility, and persistence. Critic Stephen Tanzer notes "Bright ruby. Cassis, licorice, and violet on the nose. Silky and noble on entry, then penetrating, intense, and sharply defined, offering an uncanny combination of opulence, power, and cut. Captivating violet and dark chocolate notes. Finishes with big, broad tannins, superb spine and building length." Production: 400 cases

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2005. The first ever "reverse blend" for Arietta Variation One, the 2005 is an entirely co-fermented blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Merlot, all from Arietta's carefully selected blocks on the meticulously farmed Hudson Ranch in Napa/Carneros. The 2005 Arietta Variation One's rich aromas of bacon fat, earth, smoke, violets graphite, plums, and wild blackberries remind us of a top-class Hermitage. Tanzer notes: "Very ripe, syrah-dominated aromas of black fruits, chocolate and meat. Lush, thick and sweet, with an opulence of texture leavened by the wine's serious tannic clout. This compellingly deep, chewy wine offers outstanding potential." Production: 400 cases

Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. Our third Cabernet Sauvignon and the best to date, from Howell Mountain fruit farmed with bonsai-like precision by celebrated viticulturist David Abreu. The 2005 Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon includes 16% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot. Critic Stephen Tanzer notes: "Expressive nose melds currant, blackberry, licorice pastille and chocolatey oak, hinting at an almost medicinal character. Suave on entry, then sweet, thick and pliant on the middle palate, with superb concentration and richness supported by a powerful spine of ripe tannins. This boasts compelling sweetness and a texture of velvet without going over the top, thanks in large part to the natural freshness of the vintage." Production: 350 cases

Arietta Claret 2005. Arietta Claret is a blend of Bordeaux varietals sourced primarily from vineyards farmed on Howell Mountain by David Abreu. This year's wine also includes Merlot from Arietta's "N" Block on the Hudson Ranch in Napa/Carneros. The final blend is 68% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot. The 2005 Arietta Claret is remarkable for its decadent aromas of black fruits, mingled with notes of forest floor, sage, graphite, and baked bread. On the palate the wine brightens to include flavors of cherry and other red fruits, and sweet citrus. The beautiful sheen of the wine masks its considerable grip and intensity which, along with an incredibly long fruit-driven finish, indicate a long evolution in bottle for the Arietta Claret 2005. Production: 350 cases

Arietta White Wine "On The White Keys" 2006. The Arietta White Wine "On The White Keys" makes its second appearance in the 2006 vintage. Fermented in a combination of stainless steel, new oak, and one year old oak barrels, the 2006 White Keys marries rare hillside Sonoma Mountain Sauvignon Blanc to old vine Semillon from Napa/Carneros. The result is a complex wine that opens with mouthwatering vibrancy and expands with dramatic richness and sensual texture. Aromas of honeysuckle, lemon zest, kumquat, pear skin, and stones provide lift to the rich, oily texture and superconcentrated flavors of the wine. The blend of the 2006 Arietta White Wine "On The White Keys" is 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon. While giving great pleasure if consumed upon release (especially with aeration) Arietta "On The White Keys" will improve in bottle for one to three years at least. Production: 450 cases

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2004. A record-setting heat wave in September with attendant dehydration reduced yields dramatically. In barrel and at bottling the Arietta H Block 2004 was beautifully perfumed and forward, with flavors of medium density and great persistence. The wine is now hibernating (as is often the case for Ariettas between two and four years after vintage date) so best to try after 2008. (400 cases)

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2004. The densest of the Arietta 2004's, the Variation One, shy at birth, has awakened and fleshed out in the late spring of 2007, and for the moment is the showiest of the 2004 Arietta red wines. We still recommend holding the wine for consumption after 2008; if you cannot, we recommend extended aeration before serving. (500 cases)

Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Superripe, intense, and high-toned, the Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 should be at its best after 2009. (80 cases)

Arietta Claret 2004. The first Arietta Claret, the 2004 is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, and 14% Petit Verdot from vineyards farmed by David Abreu at the top of Howell Mountain. The relatively high percentage of Petit Verdot gives the wine great depth and staying power. Best held until 2008 and beyond. (150 cases)

Arietta White Wine "On The White Keys" 2005. The first ever Arietta white wine is a white Bordeaux-styled blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon. The Sauvignon Blanc is from selected rows of three blocks of a rare hillside planting of Sauvignon Blanc in the cool "Bennett Gap" area of Sonoma Mountain. The fruit from this site is remarkably minerally and intense. The Semillon is sourced from two tiny blocks of old vines reserved for Arietta by noted Napa/Carneros grower Larry Hyde, and contributes notes of honey and flowers, as well as richness and length to the wine. Arietta "On The White Keys" can be enjoyed upon release (best if placed in carafe or decanter for aeration prior to serving) and should age well in bottle for at least three years after the vintage. (350 cases)

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2003. This wine demonstrates well the qualities that make the Arietta wines so distinctive: layering of flavors (complexity) and vibrancy (refreshing and well-integrated acidity). Noted wine critic Stephen Tanzer highlighted these qualities in his review of the Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson 2003: "A 60/40 blend of cabernet franc and merlot. Ruby-red. Cool but ripe aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cassis and licorice. Wonderfully thick and dense but with superb life in the mouth. Compelling flavors of black fruits, with inner-palate floral lift. This is even lusher than the 2002. John Kongsgaard has figured out how to do something that too few California winemakers can do: make extraordinarily rich, layered wines that maintain vibrancy. A great showing today. 94-96 points." (450 cases)

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2003. Arietta's source of Syrah in the Hudson Vineyards moved to a particularly desirable portion of Block 4 on the Hudson Henry Road Ranch. This block sits on an ancient creek bed, and is heavily riddled with cobblestones which limit vigor and accelerate drainage. The resulting fruit infuses Arietta Variation One with more intensity, opulence, and sheer juiciness than ever. Stephen Tanzer notes: "A 60/40 blend of merlot and syrah, co-fermented. Good saturated ruby-red. Nose offers a compelling combination of syrah and merlot perfume: black raspberry, minerals, licorice, flowers. Dense and thick, but with terrific flavor definition and lift and captivating notes of flowers and graphite. A powerfully structured wine that finishes with explosive fruits and minerals and great persistence.. One of those rare 1+1=3 wines, where the whole is more than the sum of the parts. Obviously, the blend works. 93-95 points." (450 cases)

Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2003. For Arietta's first ever Cabernet Sauvignon winemaker John Kongsgaard selected a small quantity of meticulously farmed Cabernet Sauvignon from spectacular vineyards on Howell Mountain farmed by one of Napa's most talented vineyard managers, David Abreu. Tanzer notes: "Good bright ruby. Knockout nose combines black cherry, blackberry, licorice and bitter chocolate. Wonderfully sweet and concentrated, with snappy fruit flavors and perfectly integrated acidity. Finishes with broad, dusty tannins. Will make a worthy new entry to the Arietta line-up. 92-94 points." (250 cases)

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson 2002. From a resoundingly successful Napa red wine vintage, this is the most critically acclaimed Arietta produced to date. Cabernet Franc (60%) from the Hudson H Block was co-fermented with Merlot (40%) from the Hudson N Block. The wine is brooding, seductively deep and rich, and beautifully shaped. It has yet to emerge from hibernation, and will have a long evolution-at least ten years. Best to wait a couple of years, at least, if you can. (500 cases)

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2002. Incredibly deep and exotic, with sweet fruit, leather, and game beautifully knit together. The pick dates of our Merlot and Syrah were close enough for us to co-ferment most of this wine, adding an extra degree of harmony and complexity. Should evolve for five to ten years. If you cannot resist trying it now, we suggest you double decant the wine, recork the bottle, and drink the following day. (550 cases)

Arietta Merlot Hudson Vineyards 2002. The combination of a splendid vintage and slightly above average yields from the Hudson N Block allowed us to produce the first Arietta Merlot since 1999. This wine may turn out to be the biggest of the three Arietta 2002s. Unbelievably deep, creamy, and rich, with liqueur-like fruit and aromas of herbs, the Arietta Merlot Hudson Vineyards 2002 proves how classy and complex Merlot can be when this finicky varietal is planted in a suitable microclimate (which is rare). Given the tannins and massive size of the wine, you should hold the wine for at least two years, and enjoy over the next ten. (600 cases)

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson 2001. A high toned wine of great verve and pronounced aromatics, with an exciting, expansive finish, from a fine Napa vintage. This is the only time Merlot (60%) has exceeded Cabernet Franc (40%) in the blend. Best to hold a year or two; should evolve for at least five years and hold well thereafter. (650 cases)

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2001. An exotic, opulent wine redolent of Asian spices, with great depth and length. Also high-toned and forward aromatically, but needs a bit more time to melt the tannins. More Syrah (40%) was added to the Merlot (60%) this year. Best one to five years from now and will hold well thereafter. (550 cases)

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2000. The "H Block" designation was first added to the Arietta Red Wine label in this vintage, and honors the extraordinary, 2.3 acre Cabernet Franc block at the top of the Hudson Ranch in Napa/Carneros which forms the core of the wine. This is another miraculously rich and dramatically aromatic Arietta, and once again is a product of a relatively cool and late vintage. Critic Robert Parker gave the 2000 Arietta H Block the highest score of any Napa Red Wine in the 2000 vintage. The blend is 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot. This wine has harmonized beautifully in the bottle and is hard to resist, though should evolve for another five or ten years. (600 cases)

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2000. The first vintage for this revolutionary blend of Merlot (70%) and Syrah (30%). Winemaker John Kongsgaard experimented with blending Merlot with Syrah beginning in the 1996 vintage, and liked the complexity gained by adding the wild, leathery, gamy, and floral qualities of Syrah to the luscious, more fruit-driven flavors of Merlot. Arietta Variation One has been a great success, and tasters have noted that the somewhat richer and grainier tannins of the Syrah make this wine particularly good with grilled meats and game. Bottle aging is needed to subdue the tannins provided by the Syrah. This has now happened to the 2000 Variation One, and the wine is well harmonized, approachable, and most appealing. Drink with aeration prior to serving, or await several years' further evolution. (500 cases)

Arietta Merlot 1999. A dense, rich wine of great power, with firm tannic support, still on the young side. The size of the Arietta Merlot crop in 1999 (1000 cases of this wine were produced) allowed us to broaden distribution to top restaurants in the U.S. As a result the experience of drinking Arietta Merlot 1999 has generated more calls from enthusiasts wishing to become Arietta subscribers than any other wine. Drink with prior aeration or decantation, but you can anticipate a long life ahead.

Arietta Red Wine 1999. The rarest of all Arietta Red Wines-only 350 cases were made, and all sold to the mailing list. This was due to the tiny, though intense crop of Cabernet Franc, and our decision to keep the blend 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot. The wine is dense, creamy, and dramatically fragrant, with an amazingly naturalistic, ripe "organic fruit" character. Winemaker John Kongsgaard elected not to rack this wine immediately before bottling, and the wine should be decanted off the sediment before serving. Enjoy now with aeration, or save for further evolution. Not to be missed.

Arietta Merlot 1998. Co-owner Caren Hatton's favorite of all the Ariettas, and an absolute miracle wine-we would nominate it for wine of the 1998 vintage in Napa. Creamy, rich, dense, with aromas and flavors of sweet blueberries and buttermilk. Supple and rich tannins will support further aging. You can enjoy this wine now but best to aerate or double decant before serving. (400 cases)

Arietta Red Wine 1998. A blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot, with all grapes coming from the Hudson Ranch (as is the case for all Arietta wines produced between the 1997 and 2002 vintages.) Of all Ariettas this wine is the most approachable for present drinking, and a great crowd pleaser. It has plenty of power, with a rich, forward, and expansive character. How did we do it in the cool vintage of 1998? Continual thinning of crop until a very late pick (end of October) gave us uniform and very ripe fruit. A number of subscribers have called, asking for more of this wine. Our inability to honor these requests was due in part to our own enthusiastic consumption. For drinking now and over the next five years (plus?). (500 cases)

Arietta 1997. This was the "break-through" vintage for Arietta. 1997 was a fabulous vintage for Cabernet Franc in Napa, and we briefly considered making a 100% Cabernet Franc wine. In the end Merlot was added to provide additional body and suppleness on the palate. Final composition: 81% Cabernet Franc from the Hudson "H" Block, and 19% Merlot from the Hudson "N" Block. The wine's intensity and opulence belies its composition-try serving it blind to wine savvy friends! Arietta 1997 can be enjoyed now (we suggest decanting to provide aeration before serving), but continues to evolve and improve. (750 cases)

Arietta 1996. The debut wine for Arietta was a blend of two thirds Cabernet Franc from the Hudson H Block and one third Merlot. The wine exudes the charm of the 1996 vintage and displays forward aromatics and lively acidity. Of all the Ariettas the 1996 is closest to the wines of Bordeaux in weight and texture, and was very well received in a major blind tasting of First and Growth Bordeaux and cult California wines conducted in San Francisco just after release. It is readily identifiable as the only Arietta to include a hint of eucalyptus in the aromas. (290 cases)