One of the things about larger wineries that have lots of acreage under vine is that are often more grapes to work with. This can of course be an advantage on several levels. Primarily it allows the winemaker a wider selection from which to pick fruit for their most important wines. It can sometimes also allow the winemakers to take on projects outside the core releases. Such is the case with Carneros producer Artesa Vineyards & Winery. Those familiar with them know that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay stand at the heart of their operation. These are the core wines they focus on. But with hundreds of acres under vine they have many other grapes to work with. One of their current projects is the Elements by Artesa sub-label which they use to release some different varieties at a consumer friendly price-point. I recently tasted through the Elements releases and today I’ll look at three of my favorites. First up is the Elements by Artesa 2006 Red Wine. This wine blends together fruit from Sonoma County (65%) and Napa Valley (35%). The fruit is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon (23%), Tempranillo (22%), Merlot (20%), Malbec (18%), Garnacha (11%), Petite Sirah (2%), Petit Verdot (2%), Graciano (1%), and Cabernet Franc (1%). Barrel aging was accomplished over 24 months in French oak. 4,400 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.99.
Wild strawberry fills the welcoming nose of this 2006 red blend. Recurring wisps of candied cherry provide a nice aromatic counterbalance. The lithe, medium bodied palate shows off red and black fruits such as currant, blackberry and cherry. Vanilla and cherry cola flavors are both in evidence on the finish. This wine has some bright fruit elements but those are balanced by good acidity, structure and nice length. Ultimately this is a perfectly dry wine built to pair with food. Whether that means Sunday dinner or Tuesday night with a slice of pizza is your call, either way lots of flavor for the price point.
Next up is the Elements by Artesa 2007 Merlot. This wine was produced using fruit sourced in both Sonoma (64%) and Napa (36%). In addition to Merlot (75%), Cabernet Franc (12%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Petite Sirah (1%), Petit Verdot (1%) and Syrah (1%) are also blended in. Each lot was fermented and barrel aged separately, the final blend was assembled prior to bottling. 3,000 cases of this release were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.99.
Red raspberry and rose petal aromas are both prominent in the nose of this 2007 Merlot. This Merlot shows a juicy, yet balanced mid-palate which is also slightly austere in some ways. Lots of red and black cherry are on display throughout, along with bits of rhubarb. The finish shows off leather, sour cherry and copious spice elements in the form of clove, nutmeg and pepper. This wine has excellent structure and good acidity. Sad as this is to say there’s not a lot of Merlot in the $20 price range that actually tastes like Merlot, this one does and that alone is an accomplishment. Overall this is a nice value.
Finally today is the Elements by Artesa 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Just like the other releases, this wine is made from a combination of fruit sourced in Sonoma (62%), and Napa (38%). In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (86%), Merlot (7%), Cabernet Franc (4%), Petite Verdot (2%), and Malbec (1%) are also blended in. Barrel aging was accomplished over 24 months in French oak; 25% of the barrels were new. 8,000 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.99.
A compote of red fruit aromas fills the nose of this Cabernet. Cherry, raspberry and strawberry are at the forefront with wisps of vanilla providing some nice secondary aromas. The palate is loaded with continued elements of red fruits. Juicy cherry and strawberry star along with lots of spice characteristics. Both black and white pepper emerge on the finish along with earth and dust characteristics as well as tobacco and espresso flavors. This wine has supple, yielding tannins and sufficient acidity. For around $20 you’re going to get a very tasty Cabernet Sauvignon that is best suited for short term drinking.
This trio of wines from Elements by Artesa provides plenty of pleasurable drinking for the price point. Equally important, the Merlot and Cabernet are true to their varietals. The blend, as it should, combines attributes from a diverse array of fruits to create something unique.