Arietta Variation One 2000
The first vintage for this revolutionary blend of Merlot (70%) and Syrah (30%). Winemaker John Kongsgaard experimented with blending Merlot with Syrah beginning in the 1996 vintage, and liked the complexity gained by adding the wild, leathery, gamy, and floral qualities of Syrah to the luscious, more fruit-driven flavors of Merlot. Arietta Variation One has been a great success, and tasters have noted that the somewhat richer and grainier tannins of the Syrah make this wine particularly good with grilled meats and game. Bottle aging is needed to subdue the tannins provided by the Syrah. This has now happened to the 2000 Variation One, and the wine is well harmonized, approachable, and most appealing.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2000 Variation One comes from the Hudson Ranch, and is aged in 100% new oak (none of these wines could be called “oaky”). Its dense purple color is accompanied by sweet aromas of new saddle leather and roasted meats. Although monolithic, it is medium to full-bodied and intense. Given my confidence in Kongsgaard’s winemaking, it will undoubtedly reveal more “music” with 3-4 years of bottle age. A blend of 72% Merlot and 28% Syrah.
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.