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Arietta Hudson Vineyards Merlot 2015
This youthful offering from Hudson Vineyards is deep, dark, and at the same time bright and aromatic. From the glass, the wine offers notes of red cherry, slate, flint, and caramel. On the palate, it is compact, clean and well defined, the red fruit character giving way to notes of nutmeg and burning embers. With time in the glass, and certainly with bottle age, the wine will open up and become more complex, broad, and expressive.
Blend: 93% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
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.
Known for elegant wines that combine power and finesse, Carneros is set in the rolling hills that straddle the southernmost parts of both Sonoma and Napa counties. The cooling winds from the abutting San Pablo Bay, combined with lots of midday California sunshine, create an ideal environment for producing wines with a perfect balance of crisp acidity and well-ripened fruit.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.
In the Glass
Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.