The Arietta Wines
Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The Cabernet Franc is solely from the 2.3 acre Hudson Vineyards H Block, a shy-bearing, volcanic, southwest facing slope, which naturally yields just three tons per acre.
The Merlot is grown in the Hudson Vineyards G and I Blocks, which lie immediately below the H Block. Typically, the two varietals are picked simultaneously and co-fermented, assuring a marriage of the varieties. The Cabernet Franc provides the cassis, blueberry, brown sugar character, while the Merlot brings dark chocolate to the aroma and a chewy richness to the finish. Harvested near the extreme of ripeness, the wine is fermented with its indigenous yeast, macerated with the skins for six weeks, and then aged for twenty months in mostly new French oak barrels. Naturally clarified by traditional Bordeaux racking, the blend is bottled without fining or filtration. The intense concentration masks the substantial tannin, which assures an evolution in bottle of at least ten years.
Arietta Red Wine Variation One is a blend of Merlot and Syrah, also from the Hudson Vineyards. The Syrah, from Hudson's Hermitage selection grown in gravel unusual in the Carneros, is co-fermented with the Merlot to give the blend a wild and penetrating quality. If the H Block wine is an homage to the Right Bank of Bordeaux, Variation One is a Napa Valley original. The plum and licorice aromas of Merlot blend imperceptibly with the forest floor, wild game qualities attributable to the Syrah in a wine without antecedent anywhere in the world. The vinification, barrel ageing, and bottling are similar to the Arietta H Block wine. Variation One may be served young, especially with wilder dishes, but the powerful, if supple, tannin will support its evolution in bottle for at least ten years.
Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon was first produced in the 2003 vintage. Since 2007 the core of the wine has been a 1.6 acre block of Cabernet Sauvignon in Coombsville, a small vale just east of the town of Napa. Lying in the shadow of Mt. Saint George, the vineyards undulate downwards toward the town of Napa. Planted by viticulturist Mike Wolf in 1995 and still under his management, the vineyard incorporating the Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon block is recognized as one of the finest, if not the finest site for this varietal in Coombsville. The soil is primarily volcanic, and the Arietta block has a southwestern exposure which is the most favored in this relatively cool climate. The grapes require longer than typical hang time (often until mid-October), and develop great depth of flavor without exceeding 25.5 brix. For additional layering and complexity we blend into the Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, or Merlot, depending on the character of the vintage. Arietta Cabernet Sauvignon is raised in 75-80% new French oak for twenty months before bottling the second July after harvest.
The origins of the Arietta Quartet were wines under the label "Arietta Claret" made in 2004 and 2005 from Bordeaux varietals grown at the top of Howell Mountain by noted viticulturist David Abreu. In 2006 we changed the name of the wine to Arietta Quartet, allying the four Bordeaux varietals in the wine (everything except Malbec) to the musical subtext of the brand. Since 2007 we have created Arietta Quartet from first class blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot sourced from several of the finest growers in Napa. Most lots are kept separate for the first fifteen months after harvest, at which time blending commences in earnest, and the wine is continually "tweaked" until bottling. In 2009 a superb close-spaced three acre vineyard in Coombsville, planted to the four Quartet varietals by David Abreu in 2003, became the new core of the Arietta Quartet. Since 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon has been the dominant variety in the Quartet, along with generous amounts of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and a hint of Petit Verdot. The percentage of new oak employed (50-70%) is lower than the other Arietta red wines, making the Arietta Quartet the most approachable upon release.
Arietta White Wine On The White Keys, a white Bordeaux-inspired blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, is Arietta's first and only white wine. In 2005 Arietta's winemaker Andy Erickson sourced three outstanding blocks of hillside Sauvignon Blanc on Sonoma Mountain, and with the addition of two tiny blocks of old vine Semillon farmed by the highly respected Napa/Carneros grower Larry Hyde, fashioned a wine of remarkable complexity. The brilliance and pungent vibrancy of the Sauvignon Blanc has been preserved by fermentation of a substantial portion of the Sauvignon Blanc in stainless steel barrels. The balance of the Sauvignon Blanc, as well as the Semillon, was fermented in new Chateau oak barrels, an important factor in achieving length and ageability. The Sauvignon Blanc provides rich citric mouth watering acidity. The Semillon provides viscosity, lengthens and polishes the wine, and gives it a sheen of beeswax and floral scents. Arietta On The White Keys shares with the red wines Arietta's goals of quality, depth, vibrancy, and complexity, with much credit due to extreme care in vineyard selection and blending.