Wine Last Sold on: May 7, 2009
Artesa Vineyards and Winery
|Vineyard:||Napa County 53% - Sonoma County 47%|
|Total Allocation:||Extremely Limited!|
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The Winery Says:
Artesa Vineyards & Winery, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
Made with hand-selected grapes grown in low-yielding vineyards in Sonoma and Napa, this supple and smooth Meritage is redolent with aromas of dark plums, black cherries and black licorice. Gentle handing in the winery kept these flavors in the forefront, while two years of barrel aging in French-coopered barrels added hints of brown spice, bittersweet chocolate and toasted marshmallow.
About The Winery:
Artesa is Napa’s newest, most exciting winery. Our architecturally-acclaimed facility opened as Codorniu Napa in 1991, dedicated solely to méthode champenoise sparkling wine production.
But in 1997, with the arrival of a world-class winemaker and a $10 million conversion, the winery shifted focus dramatically. Artesa was born with the inaugural release of ultra-premium still wines in September 1999.
Artesa (ahr TESS uh) means “craftsman” and connotes “handcrafted” in Catalan, language of Barcelona and our owner, Codorníu, one of the world’s largest and oldest wineries.
The Codorníu Group actually consists of eight spectacular wineries whose wines are enjoyed daily in over 100 countries around the world.
So, while we are Napa’s newest, our heritage is rich. We share five centuries of history with 15 generations of a remarkable winemaking family.
About The Winemaker:
Artesa Winery Vice President of Production and Winemaking A fifth generation winemaker from Napa Valley, award-winning winemaker, Mark Beringer, is proud to continue a family tradition of making high quality wines in California’s premier AVA’s. As the great, great grandson of Beringer Winery co-founder, Jacob Beringer, Mark has always aspired to make his contribution to California winemaking. He grew up immersed in the wine industry and knew from a very young age that winemaking was his calling.
At 12, Mark went to work at his parent’s local wine shop stocking shelves and dusting bottles. It was there that he quickly became versed in the complicated language of wine only to discover that all wines are not created equal. Yearning for more hands-on experience, Mark went on to learn the ins and outs of bottling, sanitation, barrel work and harvesting while working at his uncle’s winery while attending Santa Rosa JC, and later at California State University, Fresno where he graduated in 1990 with a B.S. in Enology. After graduation Mark joined the winemaking team at Glen Ellen Winery and spent the next year and a half learning the logistical side of winemaking at a larger volume winery.
In 1992, Mark was recruited by Dan Duckhorn to join the Duckhorn winery team as an enologist and to provide support to Tom Rinaldi. Mark welcomed the opportunity to return to the type of artisanal winemaking he was so passionate about. When Duckhorn Wine Company decided to expand its portfolio beyond the Bordeaux varieties in 1994, Mark was chosen to head up the project to launch Paraduxx, a unique blend of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Goldeneye, the winery’s Burgundy style wines from Anderson Valley.
In 1996, Mark was promoted to Vice President of Production and took on the tasks of managing a multi-brand, multi-facility company. In 1998, Mark was named Winemaker and in 2000, was promoted to Director of Winemaking. In 2005, The San Francisco Chronicle named Mark Winemaker of the Year for his work at Duckhorn Vineyards.
During Mark’s tenure at Duckhorn Wine Company he garnered two Winery of the Year titles from Connoisseurs Guide to California Wine, was named four times Regional Winery of the Year by Wine & Spirits Magazine and won the #6 rated wine of the year in the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2002 with the Duckhorn Vineyards 1999 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
In 2008, Mark founded Mark Beringer Consulting, working on a variety of projects within the wine industry before joining Artesa Vineyards and Winery as Vice President of Production and Winemaking in February, 2009.
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Mission Codename: For Love Of The Craft
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Seek out a delicious Meritage for our operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Artesa Vineyards and Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Meritage
Winemaker: Mark Beringer
Meritage (pronounce like ‘heritage’, no French style accent) wine, blends made in the tradition of the great wines of Bordeaux can only carry the name if the winery is a member of The Meritage Association based in Sonoma County. Most wines made in the US are varietal wines, comprised of over 75% of a single varietal. Unfortunately, this labeling requirement is believed to impair many winemakers from making exceptional blends, since they are often labeled as simply Red Table Wine with the noble grapes of Bordeaux. Thus in 1988 Meritage was born as a way to highlight the winemaker’s art of careful blending and crafting of wines in the tradition of some of Europe’s finest wines.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark garnet with ruby highlights that sparkle in the clear core of this wine. Along the edges, the color fades from ruby to dark pick and when swirled, this fast legs ring the glass.
Smell – Medium in intensity with aromas of dusty ripe cherry, plum and other red and black fruits that are balanced over complex notes of spice, licorice and a touch of toasted vanilla. Hints of dried seasonal herbs and a floral component also reveal themselves as you explore this wine.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this medium to full-bodied blend is rich with medium-firm tannins and easy acidity which creates a lovely feel that balances creaminess with a touch of tang and spice.
Taste – Soft and ripe with flavors of red plum, both tart and ripe cherry and a hint of black-fruit. The fruit on this wine is carefully balanced against flavors of toasted vanilla and oak, soft spice and dried herbal hints.
Finish – Medium in length and clean with lingering flavors of red fruit, spice and mild vanilla toast that softly fades while inviting another sip.
Conclusion – The 2005 Artesa Meritage is a lovely wine showing why the careful blending and crafting of wines results in wines of great finesse and elegance. Its complex nose, smooth and rich feel and plush soft flavors make this wine ideal for anything you can pair it with.
Finally, I was able to wrangle a choice assignment away from Agent Red! And, while he did all of the leg work for today’s mission, I get the glory.
Red had Artesa under surveillance for a long time, probably too long. I all fairness, he did gather a great deal on intel on the winery and that set the stage for my quick infiltration. If any mission goes on for too long, I am usually the one that is called on to complete the mission – and get the wine.
Read Agent Red’s mission updates in the W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine for our newest Operatives) archives. For my part, I’ll just tell you that a couple of calls to senior management at Artesa was all it took to secure today’s wine.
Rather than bore you with those details, I do want to point out a few things about Artesa and their world-class team.
If you ever find yourself in Napa, a visit to Artesa is not just recommended, it is essential. The winery grounds, sculpture gardens, architecture, and winery are magnificent. One has the feeling of visiting a world-class art museum, a winery and even a place of worship when spending time at Artesa.
In my case, the winery was the place of worship! For all of Artesa’s ambiance and style, the winery is really the divine place where their great wines are born. A few afternoon hours with the great counter staff – spent tasting through their wines – was such a delightful treat. The people, like the wines, were great fun.
Artesa in the U.S. is the extension of a Spanish winemaking family that dates back to the year 1551, when the Codorníu family first made wine at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, in the Penedès region of Spain, just west of Barcelona.
The family continues making wines for centuries and in 1872, becomes the first in the world to make sparkling wines outside of Champagne in the méthode champenoise. This revolutionizes Spain’s wine industry.
In 1897, Codorníu is declared the exclisive supplier of wine to the king of Spain, King Alfonso XIII.
In 1915, the Codorníu winery build the world’s largest wine cellars, with five subterranean levels extending 16 miles.
The winery continues to grow and gain in prestige and honor for the next several decades. In 1989, they break ground on a revolutionary new winery in the Napa Valley. In 1991, Codorníu Napa opens as a méthode champenoise facility in the Carneros region of the Napa Valley. Those of you that know our tastes, know that The Wine Spies are enamored with the Carneros region.
In 1999, the winery is renamed Artesa Winery and releases its inaugural wines – two Chardonnays, three Pinot Noirs, and a Sauvignon Blanc – to critical acclaim.
Earlier this year, the winery is joined by one of America’s only multi-generational winemakers, Mark Beringer. In the United States, ‘multi-generational’ in winemaking usually means two or three generations have been involved in the craft. Mark, whose great, great grandfather was winemaking pioneer, Jacob Beringer, is a fifth generation winemaker and head of winemaking for Artesa today.
Throughout his career, Mark has been recognized as a leader and a pioneer in the field of winemaking. He has received numerous kudos and awards, including Winemaker of the Year by The San Francisco Chronicle.
If you can’t make it out to Artesa, at least you’ll be able to get a taste of the place by picking up a few bottles of today’s great Atresa Meritage.
As for Agent Red, don’t feel too bad for him. He was pretty bummed out that I was able to close the deal with Artesa, but that case of 2005 Artesa Meritage I secured for him is keeping him plenty happy. For the moment!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Artesa Vineyards and Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.