A blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot, with all grapes coming from the Hudson Ranch (as is the case for all Arietta wines produced between the 1997 and 2002 vintages.) Of all Ariettas this wine is the most approachable for present drinking, and a great crowd pleaser. It has plenty of power, with a rich, forward, and expansive character.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In partnership with auctioneer Fritz Hatten, Kongsgaard produces about 500 cases of Arietta (a 60% Cabernet Franc/40% Merlot blend representing this winery's answer to Cheval Blanc). The 1998 is a complete, complex wine that tastes like a synthesis between a top-class St. Emilion and a Napa Valley red. It possesses the complexity of a top Bordeaux allied to the ripeness and richness of California. Its dense ruby/purple color is accompanied by aromas of black fruits, leather, spice box, and flowers. Medium to full-bodied and pure, with moderate tannin in the finish, it opens with extended airing. (Blueberries became apparent after about 10 minutes.)
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.
Undoubtedly proving its merit over and over, Napa Valley is a now a leading force in the world of prestigious red wine regions. Though Cabernet Sauvignon dominates Napa Valley, other red varieties certainly thrive here. Important but often overlooked include Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties well-regarded on their own as well as for their blending capacities. Very old vine Zinfandel represents an important historical stronghold for the region and Pinot noir is produced in the cooler southern parts, close to the San Pablo Bay.
Perfectly situated running north to south, the valley acts as a corridor, pulling cool, moist air up from the San Pablo Bay in the evenings during the hot days of the growing season, which leads to even and slow grape ripening. Furthermore the valley claims over 100 soil variations including layers of volcanic, gravel, sand and silt—a combination excellent for world-class red wine production.