One of the amazing perks of working for such a cool place, besides getting to try all kinds of new wines on pretty much a daily basis, is when we host a wine dinner. Last night, we welcomed Fritz Hatton, proprietor of Arietta Wines at Steve and Cookies By the Bay.
We've had plenty of great wine events there, and last night was no different. Cookie Till, and her amazing team put together quite a menu to pair with the wines. As usual, her food pairings are tailored to bring out the best qualities in the wines we're featuring, and always have just enough of an eclectic edge. Discussion around the table. There was much debate during the salad course last night, which comprised of mixed greens, roasted beets, paper thin slices of radish. It was elegant and delicious, and tied in perfectly with one of the whites we were having. The debate was over the face that the salad was made on top of fresh guacamole. It was surprisingly clever. At the last dinner we had, it was her tuna pizza hors d'oeuvres that knocked our socks off.
My favorite part of the evening would have to be the pre-gaming, when we all meet at the bar a little early before the dinner to have a drink, and really get a chance to get to know the evening's guest. Fritz was more than happy to share pictures of some of the wines he's been drinking lately. His wine lineup in the past week, makes all of the wines I've had lately seem like cheap jug wine by comparison.
Arietta Wines are made by winemaker, Andy Erickson who has worked for Harlan Estate, Staglin, as well as other wineries, and came on board with Arietta in 2005. His first project was making their first ever white wine called "On the White Keys", and is a Bordeaux inspired bland of Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. Speaking of 2005, we still have just a few bottles of Arietta's 2005 H-Block Red Blend, if you should be so inclined. (I already nabbed my bottle!)
Arietta White Wine On The White Keys "George's Cuvée"
a white Bordeaux-inspired blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, is Arietta's first and only white wine. In 2005 Arietta's winemaker Andy Erickson sourced three outstanding blocks of hillside Sauvignon Blanc on Sonoma Mountain, and with the addition of two tiny blocks of old vine Semillon farmed by the highly respected Napa/Carneros grower Larry Hyde, fashioned a wine of remarkable complexity. The brilliance and pungent vibrancy of the Sauvignon Blanc has been preserved by fermentation of a substantial portion of the Sauvignon Blanc in stainless steel barrels. The balance of the Sauvignon Blanc, as well as the Semillon, was fermented in new Chateau oak barrels, an important factor in achieving length and ageability. The Sauvignon Blanc provides rich citric mouth watering acidity. The Semillon provides viscosity, lengthens and polishes the wine, and gives it a sheen of beeswax and floral scents. Arietta On The White Keys shares with the red wines Arietta's goals of quality, depth, vibrancy, and complexity, with much credit due to extreme care in vineyard selection and blending.
This particular wine is only available at Steve and Cookies, as it was a blend made specifically for them. We highly recommend stopping in and having a glass or 2 with a plate of fresh oysters. That seemed to do the trick rather nicely at the beginning of the dinner. Say hello to George for us!
Arietta White Wine On The White Keys, Artists' Reserve 2013
A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, Arietta’s reserve white wine benefits from an extra twelve months of aging in French oak barrels. It is aromatically flamboyant, offering notes of white flowers, key lime, gooseberry, and candied orange peel. The wine explodes on the palate, with delicious lemon flavors, peach, walnut oil, and thyme. The wood component is secondary, and very integrated, while secondary characters such as lemon grass, sage, and wood resin reside under the surface. This is an exceedingly hedonistic wine that will continue to gain in sophistication after two to four years in bottle.
Blend: 87% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Semillon
Fruit Source: Hyde Vineyard, Farina Vineyard, Rancho Chimiles
Cooperage: Aged ten months in 45% new French oak, 37% neutral French oak, and 18% stainless steel barrels, followed by twelve months in 100% second use French oak barrels
Production: 260 cases
Arietta Red Wine Quartet 2013
Arietta’s Bordeaux-styled red wine “Quartet” is a cherubic offspring of the fabulous 2013 vintage in Napa. The 2013 vintage in Napa provided nearly perfect growing conditions, with a moderate spring, a long Indian summer, very little rain, and few heat spikes. Visually, the 2013 Arietta Quartet displays an intense garnet color, fading into soft plum terra cotta. The nose offers aromas of ripe strawberries and raspberries freshly picked in the heat of afternoon sun, with nuances of flint and cherry cola. On the palate, the Arietta Quartet suggests red plum, blackberry cordial, cocoa, black licorice, supported by persistent, silky tannins from the already well integrated French oak. The Cabernet Franc in the blend arrives at the finish to provide hints of Provencal herbs.
Blend: 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petite Verdot
Fruit Sources: Coombsville, Carneros and Calistoga
Cooperage: Aged 22 months in French oak, 50% new
Production: 864 cases
Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2013
At almost 30 years in age, the Cabernet Franc vines in the H Block at Lee Hudson’s famed Napa Valley ranch excelled in the dry 2013 vintage, producing fruit with surprising balance, freshness, and aromatic expression. The stress level on the vines made for great concentration and a vibrant blue-purple hue in the wine. With all the concentration of flavor and aromatic intensity, the wine has an old-world demeanor, favoring grace and balance over power and heft. The structured finish is a sure indication that this latest incarnation of H Block will live for decades to come, continuously unfurling to reveal new aromas and sensations.
Blend: 54% Cabernet Franc, 46% Merlot
Fruit Source: 100% Hudson Vineyard, Carneros
Cooperage: Aged 21 months in French oak barrels. 78% new
Production: 370 cases
Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2013
A blend of 52% Syrah and 48% Merlot from Hudson Vineyards, the 2013 Variation One is a powerhouse. But for all its dark, brooding character and solid build, this wine is surprisingly bright and fresh on the palate, with flavors of red cherries, roasted meat, and orange liqueur and chocolate. It continues to open and reveal notes of campfire, baked fruits, and wet gravel. Tannins are dry and firm, helping to bolster the broad, expansive impression.
Blend: 52% Syrah, 48% Merlot
Fruit Source: 100% Hudson Vineyard, Carneros
Cooperage: Aged 21 months in French oak barrels, 50% new
Production: 86 cases
As we do at all of our wine dinners at Steve and Cookie's, we are proud to help raise money for Cookie's charity, A Work In Progress. Over $1500 was raised at this dinner, thanks to some of our generous vendors who were happy to make donations to be raffled off during the event.
As you can see by the amount noted in the production quantities of each wine, quantities are limited. Please stop in at our Fire Road location to inquire about any of them.
Bob Miller - Wine Director at Joe Canal's and Fritz Hatton