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WINE REVIEWS

The Wine Advocate
 

December 2012, Issue 204, Antonio Galloni

2010 Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon
Arietta's 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon bursts from the glass with juicy dark cherries, smoke, crushed flowers and melted road tar. Hints of mocha, espresso and plums develop later, adding a darker register that is highly appealing. Round, supple and totally enveloping, the 2010 should drink beautifully over the next decade, give or take. The 2010 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Meteor vineyard in Coombsville. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025.

2010 Arietta Variation One Syrah/Merlot
The 2010 Variation One is a blend of Syrah and Merlot, two varieties that aren't usually seen together, from Hudson ranch in Carneros. Plums, cloves, licorice and mint are all layered together nicely in a wine that brings together the structural framework of Syrah and the pure juiciness of Merlot. There is plenty of focus and energy in the glass. This is another terrific showing from Arietta. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2020.

2010 Arietta On the White Keys Artists' Reserve
Arietta's 2010 On The White Keys Artists' Reserve is a selection of six barrels of On The White Keys that saw an additional year of oak aging. A rich, resonant white, the 2010 impresses for its overall balance and pure class. Melon, cantaloupe and passion fruit are all supported by veins of incisive, pure minerality. The 2010 Artists' Reserve is 60% Sauvignon and 40% Semillon. This is another highly distinctive, compelling white from Arietta. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2016.

December 2010, Issue 192

2008 Arietta Arietta Proprietary Red H Block Hudson Vineyard
My favorite wine of this group is the 2008 H Block. It is the first time they have ever made it from 100% Cabernet Franc, and it is a killer wine. Gorgeous notes of blueberry, violets, lead pencil shavings, and pen ink soar from the glass of this full-bodied yet strikingly elegant, floral wine. It is deep blue/purple in color, with a glorious texture, terrific purity, and a long finish. This is further evidence of the brilliance of Cabernet Franc in Napa and of Cabernet Franc paired with the rare talents of Andy Erickson. It should drink well for 10-15 years, possibly two decades.

2008 Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (80% Cabernet Sauvignon from a vineyards in Coombsville, 18% Cabernet Franc from the Hudson Vineyard, and the rest Petit Verdot from David Abreu's Howell Mountain Vineyard) is a deep ruby/purple-colored wine with notes of minerality, boysenberry, mulberry, crushed rock, and foresty loamy soil notes. The wine is medium to full-bodied, tannic, and in need of 2-3 years of cellaring. Aged in 100% new French oak, the oak is still evident, but the fruit and concentration are more than sufficient to balance it out with another 3-4 years of bottle age. It should keep for 15-20 years.

2008 Arietta Quartet
The most monolithic wine (as it was in 2007) is the 2008 Quartet, a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. This wine has impressive color, medium to full body, and lots of licorice, herbs, and black currants, but it comes across as somewhat monochromatic - or should I say, like music in a single key. Nevertheless, there is a lot there, and it may just need more time to unfold and reveal its true personality. Give it 3-4 years of cellaring and drink it over the following decade.

2009 Arietta The White Keys
The 2009 On The White Keys is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon put through full malolactic fermentation. It is a waxy, honeyed wine with some spicy oak to it and loads of personality and character. Don't expect it to be one of those crisp, steely, flinty styles of Sauvignon and Semillon, but rather a crisper, more textured wine meant for accompanying far bolder flavored culinary dishes. It is provocative as well as interesting. Drink it over the next several years.

2008 Arietta Variation One (Syrah / Merlot)
The blend of 55% Syrah and 45% Merlot, all from the Hudson Vineyard in southern Napa is the 2008 Variation One. The trick is to co-ferment both Syrah and Merlot, and it has resulted in a meaty, blackberry, black cherry-scented wine with some notes of lard, jus de viande, and spring flowers. It is an interesting, layered, medium to full-bodied wine that is is already delicious and should continue to age well for a decade or more.

December 2009, Issue 186

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2007
My favorite wine is the 2007 Proprietary Red H Block from the Hudson Vineyard. Made from an intriguing blend of 55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot, it exhibits a dense purple color as well as aromas of blue and black fruits intertwined with spring flowers, chocolate, and espresso roast. This pure, full-bodied 2007 is both hedonistic and intellectually satisfying. It should continue to evolve for 10-12+ years.

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2007
A blend of 55% Syrah and 45% Merlot, the 2007 Variation One reveals smoky bacon notes intermixed with notions of boysenberries, wild flowers, forest floor, pepper, and wood spice. Drink this medium-bodied, supple red over the next 6-7 years.

Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is the real deal. Its opaque purple color is accompanied by notes of black currants, camphor, licorice, and spicy oak as well as outstanding fruit purity, a medium to full-bodied texture, sweet but serious tannins, and a long finish. Accessible now, it should continue to provide plenty of pleasure over the next 15+ years.

Arietta White Wine "On The White Keys" 2008
Composed of 87% Sauvignon Blanc and 13% Semillon that is put through partial malolactic, the 2008 On The White Keys exhibits subtle notions of lemon oil, nectarine, and honeyed grapefruit in a medium-bodied, fresh, slightly spicy/oaky style. Enjoy it over the next several years.

December 2008, Issue 180
2007 Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyards Napa Valley
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.

2007 Arietta Variation One Napa Valley
The blend of 55-60% Syrah and the rest Merlot is called Variation One (450-500 cases produced). A sensational effort, the 2007 Variation One (60% Syrah and 40% Merlot) 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.

December 28 2007, Issue 174

2006 Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyards Napa Valley
The 2006 H Block, which is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot, exhibits a deep ruby/purple color like its predecessor and a sweet nose of boysenberry, raspberry, and an almost vivid floweriness, with nicely integrated oak and hints of lead pencil shavings. The wine has great fruit, medium to full body, and again, terrific elegance and finesse.
It's interesting to note that this is the first vintage where Screaming Eagle's winemaker, Andy Erickson, consulted on the winemaking at Arietta.

2005 Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyards Napa Valley
The 2005 H Block, which is 100% from the Hudson Vineyard, is a co-fermented blend of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot. This is one of the finest I have tasted from Fritz Hatton, and it has put on considerable weight since I had it last year. An exceptional nose of white chocolate, espresso, tobacco leaf, and raspberries, in addition to red currants and even blacker fruits, are present in this complex wine, which is fragrant, medium to full-bodied, and seamlessly textured. It is a beautiful, highly nuanced, strikingly elegant wine to drink over the next 10-15 years.

2006 Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Far more promising is the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was the first wine to benefit from the consulting work of Screaming Eagle's Andy Erickson. With riper, richer, sweeter fruit, more cassis, licorice, and crushed rock, along with some spring floral notes, the wine is medium to full-bodied, much more impressive and opulent than the 2005, but not lacking structure. This wine should drink nicely for 12-20 years.

2006 Arietta Variation I Napa Valley
The most interesting blend is the co-fermented version of Syrah and Merlot, the Variation One. The 2006 Variation One (55% Syrah and the rest Merlot, again co-fermented together) shows more chocolate and berry fruit in a plumper, riper style, with slightly lower acidity and very little of the forest floor, mossy earth characteristics. The wine is fleshy, rich, and more hedonistic than the intellectually leaning 2005.
It should drink well for 12-15 years as well.

2005 Arietta Variation I Napa Valley
The most interesting blend is the co-fermented version of Syrah and Merlot, the Variation One. The 2005 Variation One exhibits musty, moss-ridden forest floor notes intermixed with pepper, earth, and black fruits. The wine is rich, extremely complex, but I have the feeling this is a love-it-or-leave-it type of wine, given its rather distinctive aromatics. It is pure in the mouth, with some slightly austere Bordeaux-like tannins, but good delineation. This wine needs 3-4 years of bottle age, and should drink well for 15 or more.

2006 Arietta On The White Keys
Charismatic auctioneer Fritz Hatton's love of music is the basis for the play on words for Arietta, all serious wines produced from innovative blends, especially the Variation One. These are distinctive and dramatic wines, and it is good to see a new addition of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon, The White Keys. The 2006 version reveals terrific grapefruit and other honeyed citrus notes intermixed with some guava and white currant. The wine behaves much like a dry white Graves, finishing with good acidity, power, and depth.

2005 Arietta On The White Keys
The 2005 may even be better but perhaps is just a year older, with more subtle bottle nuances such as honeysuckle, fig, and a touch of melon and lemon oil. Both are medium to full-bodied, very dry, seriously endowed wines that should be superb with an assortment of different cuisines.

February 28, 2005 Issue #157

2003 Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyards Napa Valleybr> The dense ruby/purple-hued 2003 Proprietary Red H Block Hudson Vineyard (a 500-case blend of 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot) reveals restrained aromatics (sweet cranberries, cola, underbrush, black cherries, cassis, minerals, and lead pencil shavings) as well as an elegant, restrained, concentrated, delicate, nuanced personality. Drink it over the next 10-12 years.

2003 Arietta Variation One Napa Valley
The 2003 Variation One (60% Merlot and 40% Syrah) offers a sweet kiss of white chocolate along with pepper, raspberry, fig, and plum notes. Dense and hedonistic, but not yet revealing all the nuances found in the 2002, this is an impressively endowed, complex, intellectually as well as hedonistically satisfying wine the likes of which are so singular and different than anything else produced in California. It is classic in all its proportions, aromas, and flavors.

2002 Arietta Red H Block Hudson Vineyard Napa Valley
One of the most extraordinary wines I tasted during my trip through Northern California was Arietta's 2002 Proprietary Red H Block Hudson Vineyard. Made from equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this dark purple-colored 2002 exhibits wonderfully refined, complex notes of scorched earth, menthol, mocha, cherries, plums, figs, and espresso. With great intensity as well as surreal elegance and refinement, this beautifully pure effort unfolds on the palate in incremental layers of finesse and flavors. This amazing, noble wine is a tour de force in winemaking for California. It should drink well for 15 years.

2002 Arietta Variation One Napa Valley
The stunning 2002 Variation One (70% Merlot and 30% Syrah) exhibits an exotic, opulent personality with a deep purple color, and sweet aromas of cocoa, new saddle leather, black raspberries, cassis, and acacia flowers. Full-bodied, with beautifully integrated oak (all of these wines are aged in 100% new French wood), wonderful sweetness, tremendous delineation, and laser-like clarity and transparency of character. A beauty, it is ideal for drinking over the next 10-15 years.

December 23, 2003 Issue #150

2001 Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyards Napa Valley
Tightly wound, with dense, full-bodies notes of black fruits, charcoal, smoke, earth, and pain grille, it is big and rich, but tight, structured, and backward. Give it 3-5 years of cellaring and drink it over the following 12-15.

2001 Arietta Variation One Napa Valley
2001 Arietta Variation One exhibits sweet, flowery, blackberry and cassis flavors with chocolate and leather in the background. This big, full bodied, opulent, layered, multidimensional 2001 needs 2-3 years of cellaring. It should drink well for 1-2 decades.

2000 Arietta Red H Block Hudson Vineyard Napa Valley
The 2000 Arietta tastes like an over-sized, phenomenal Cheval Blanc. It has blossomed beautifully since I tasted it last year. A dense purple color is followed by scents of cocoa, underbrush, chocolatey black cherry and black currant fruit, minerals, truffles, and graphite. A big, thick, chewy, tremendously long, intense, well balanced red, I would love to taste it along side the 2000 Cheval Blanc. It should hit its prime in 3-4 years, and last for 2 decades. Like most of these cuvees, there are approximately 800 cases.

2000 Variation One Napa Valley
The 2000 Variation One comes from the Hudson Ranch, and like the Arietta cuvee, is aged in 100% new oak (none of these wines could be called "oaky"). Its dense purple color is accompanied by sweet aromas of new saddle leather and roasted meats. Although monolithic, it is medium to full-bodied and intense. Given my confidence in Kongsgaard's winemaking, it will undoubtedly reveal more "music" with 3-4 years of bottle age. A blend of 72% Merlot and 28% Syrah, it should be at it's finest between 2007-2016.