Arietta Variation One 2005
Other Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
- red wine
- collectible wine
Arietta Variation One Napa Valley is a blend of Merlot and Syrah, also from the Hudson Vineyards. The N Block is the only vineyard in Kongsgaard's extensive experience with Merlot which naturally yields two and one half to three tons of fruit per acre without requiring thinning or hedging. This naturally balanced vineyard is a unique phenomenon; a gift from nature which is reflected in the harmonious quality of the wine. 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 I 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 I may be served young, especially with wilder dishes, but the powerful, if supple, tannin will support its evolution in bottle for at least 10 years.
The Arietta project is owned and run by the Kongsgaard and Hatton families. John Kongsgaard, winemaker, is a fifth generation Napan, but the first in his family to make wine. Kongsgaard has grown grapes since 1975 and made wine professionally since 1979, notably for thirteen vintages at Newton and five at Luna, as well as looking after numerous clients as a viticultural and enological consultant. Since founding Arietta and Kongsgaard in 1996, he has limited wine production to that which he can make with his own hands. In 2000, Kongsgaard stopped all consulting activities, devoting himself solely to twenty-eight acres of vineyard and the resulting Arietta and Kongsgaard wines.
Fritz Hatton is the nation's foremost wine auctioneer. He worked for Christie's for most of the last two decades and was in charge of Christie's U.S. wine auctions from 1995 to 1998. In the spring of 2002, Hatton joined the prominent retailer, Zachy's, as auctioneer and consultant to Zachy's Auctions, Inc. He serves as principal auctioneer for the Napa Valley Wine Auction and conducts numerous other charity wine auctions across the U.S. Hatton is responsible for the sales and distribution of the Arietta and Kongsgaard wines and shares the marketing duties with Kongsgaard.
The partners came together through their love of music. Fritz is a serious amateur pianist and singer, and the Kongsgaards present a ten concert classical music series in Napa. Their friendship in music is reflected in the Arietta wine label: Beethoven's manuscript of the sublime Arietta movement of his last piano sonata, Opus 111.
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About Napa Valley
It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Notable Facts Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just granted an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Alcohol By Volume Guide
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.