California, Napa, Red blends, Red wine, Sonoma

Artesa Elements 2005

Winemaker: Mark Beringer
Grape: 39% Tempranillo, 18% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Garnacha, 1% Graciano
Region: 65% Sonoma county, 35% Napa, California

See other wines from this producers:
Artesa Cabernet Sauvignon Napa/Sonoma

I have never been in Artesa winery, but I was told by a trusted friend that it is one of the most beautiful wine estates in California, combined with a modern technology. If you visit their tasting room, please let me know how you liked it. The large portfolio of their wines are definitely worth to check out.

Imagine to combine a most typical grape varietals of the three major Old world’s wine regions – Bordeaux, Rhône and Rioja and put them in one bottle. That’s Elements. A very unique blend, isn’t it? I am not sure, but it might be the only blend of such a grape combination on the market.

Artesa’s winemaker, Mark experienced with all these varietals while working at Duckhorn Vineyards. When Duckhorn expended their wine production beyond Bordeaux grape varietals, Mark was leading their new wine project to launch Paraduxx, (an unique blend of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon). Paraduxx became an instant hit and was later followed by Goldeneye, the winery’s Burgundy style wines from Anderson Valley.

The San Francisco Chronicle named Mark Winemaker of the Year for his work at Duckhorn Vineyards.

The grapes for Elements were sourced from Artesa’s Alexander Valley mountain-side vineyard, Carneros estate Tempranillo and a Carneros Syrah and Tempranillo vineyard. This cool climate area produces wine with spice and leather characteristics. The Alexander Valley vineyard is a warmer region that participated with an aromatic and expressive fruit.

Each lot was hand harvested, de-stemmed and gently split open. Extended maceration of fruit followed the fermentation in open tanks, to extract a richer a deeper structure of different varietals for the final blend. Most of the varietals were pressed directly to the oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation took a place in French oak barrels (about 30% new oak) and wine then aged for 22 months.

Tasting notes:
Dark ruby color and lovely aroma of blackberry, raspberry and spices on the nose. On the palate it’s a rich, yet velvety red with a layers of different flavors, ripen dark fruit, plums, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate. This wine is developing richer and richer flavors as it opens up. Soft tannins are promising a good aging potential. Generously long finish that makes you reach for a second glass.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $ 20.00

Ideal food pairing:
Steaks, lamb, dark meats, artisan cheeses, Beef chorizo, Pistachio crusted rack of lamb, spiced sausages, ribs etc.

California, Red blends, Red wine, Sonoma

Cline Cashmere 2008

Winemaker: Charles G. Tsegeletos
Grape: 44% Mourvèdre, 35% Grenache, 21% Syrah
Region: Carneros, Sonoma, California

See other wines from this producer:
Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel

When Fred Cline with his wife relocated their winery to the cool region of Carneros, it was mainly home for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot vines then. But Mr. Cline, already experienced with restoring a preserving ancient vine sites and roots, liked to try something else. He brought in a typical Rhône varietals including Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne.In mid 90-ties they had an opportunity to expend to Sonoma Coast – Petaluma, where the climate is very similar to a great region of Alsace, France. Seeing the great potential for growing vines, Cline gladly accepted that challenge as well.

Nevertheless, their 140 acres of vineyards in Contra Costa County, where Cline family originally started, remains famous for its ancient vines of Zinfandel, Mourvèdre and Carignane. With the age of vineyards ranging from 80 to 120 years old, these are some of the oldest and most rare grapevines in California.

Today, Cline cellars take care and produce several single lots of old vine Zinfandel with distinguish character and many awards under their belt. In my opinion, Cline makes some of the best Zinfandel wines found in California.

Cline Cashmere, the lovely blend of a traditional Rhône varietals called GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) was initially created as a wine for an auction lot for the Hospice du Rhône, held in Paso Robles each year.

The name evokes smoothness and fluffy velvet (what a smart name for a wine) – and the wine is just that. I am sure that was a main reason why it became so popular. Another good reason to be a fan of this wine is the fact that it became a flag ship for Cline Cellar’s support of Breast Cancer Network of Strenght’s Ride to Empower.

The grapes for this blend were harvested separately, according to individual ripeness. After de-stemming and gentle crushing vine fermented in stainless steel tanks with select cultured yeast. Finally, the blend than aged for 9 months in barrels (about 25 % new French oak).

Tasting notes:
Dark ruby color and a lovely aroma of red berries, currant and dark cherries. Smooth and velvety tannins give this fruity wine a body, a little spice and a lot of character. Each of the varietal brings its own potential to the party. Mourvèdre and Grenache gives it a lot of fruit expression, cherry and raspberry, when tannic Syrah brings the depth, hint of chocolate and body. Together with a necessary acidity it makes a perfect concert of flavors. Very well crafted wine that shouldn’t be missed.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 16.00

Ideal food pairing:
Stewed meats, Super easy pork chops with onions and peppers, stuffed mushrooms, pork roasts, grilled meats, Flank steak with shitakee sauce, Beef Bourguignon, Pork cutlets baked in creamy potatoes

California, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma, White wines

Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc 2008

Winemaker: Sarah Quider
Grapes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Sonoma, California

Put together two devoted, second-generation Italian-Americans with a passion for hard work, wine and food – and you can expect miracles. An astonishing hospitality and wine career of Rhonda and Don Carano started back in 1973, when Don, still practicing law at successful Reno’s law firm, established Eldorado Hotel/Casino – 282 room property.

It was “supposedly” on the wrong side of the tracks”. Today’s Eldorado has 817 rooms, 10 award-winning restaurants, 80 thousands sq. ft. of casino space, huge showroom, specialty retail space and complete convention center. The couple today owns another hotels and resort properties in Nevada.

It was on their wine buying trip to California in 1979, seeking the best wines to compliment their restaurant’s menu, when Caranos felt in love with Sonoma. It reminded them so much of Italy, they immediately purchased 60 acres parcel in Alexander Valley. That’s how Ferrari-Carano winery started. Just like in their other business projects, they believe in ownership to be able to completely control the quality. Today they own 17 vineyards in Sonoma county, with total over 2,500 acres of land.

That’s just a little bit from their amazing history. With carefully selected team of winemakers under the supervision of Steve Domenichelli, vineyard director, they are devoted to produce the best possible wines every year. Not only loyal customers, collectors and wine drinkers, but also wine experts confirm that they consistently do.

I chose their Fume Blanc today, but I will definitely come back with reviews of their Chardonnays and great, highly rated reds that Ferrari-Carano produces.

2009 vintage of Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc is a blend of vineyard lots from various appellations of Sonoma — Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valleys. When grapes arrive at the winery, each lot is gently crushed, de-stemmed and pressed into stainless steel tanks for 48 hours of cold settling. The juice is either transferred to stainless steel tanks or older French oak barrels for fermentation. The wine in barrels is sur lie aged for 4 months. Individual lots are treated separately until blending to create the final Fumé Blanc blend.

Tasting notes:
Light golden color. I smell a lovely blend of fresh tropical fruits and lemon aromas. This is not your typical Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It’s much milder, maybe more sophisticated and elegant with the notes of mango, pineapple, lemon and light grapefruit. The combination of stainless steel and oak gives wine enough crispiness and freshness, with depth and complexity from the barrel aging lots.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak (partially)
Retail price: under $ 15.00

Ideal food pairing:
Seafood, shrimp scampi, with spicy cuisine such as Chinese, Indian, Thai or sushi