Six glasses of wine face me, but only two are finished wines, the 2016 Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Artesa Vineyards and Winery. They're at the right in the photo above.
The other four are components that went into these wines. To the casual palate (mine), they seem good enough to stand on their own, but they've been bottled for educational purposes only, not to sell.
My head spins as she talks of clones and climate, punching down and puncheons, basket presses and barrels, oak integration and blocks (not wooden cubes to play with or something that hinders what you are doing but sections of a vineyard. Artesa has more than 50 of these.)
To show how dizzyingly complicated winemaking is, or at least how it seems to those of us not involved in it, the glasses next to the Chardonnay are only two of its 20 components. The Pinot Noir tops this with 25 components, including the one above.
Imagine how subtle your palate must be to figure this out. Consider too all the other techniques and sensibilities required to take grapes from the vine to their elegant finish in a fine bottle.
Fine is the right word, because Artesa is in Los Carneros in the Napa Valley, and Carneros Pinots and Chardonnays are legendary, thanks to ideal weather, topography and soils.
Interestingly, the winery was founded by Codorníu Raventós, the Spanish company known for cava and other bubblies. The intent was to produce sparkling wines, but within a couple of years, the potential for the classic Carneros varietals became apparent. Sparkling wines are still made there, however.
Just 150 of the 450 acres are farmed, most of these planted to Pinot Noir, followed by Chardonnay and then much smaller plantings of two Spanish varietals, Albariño and Tempranillo. The smallest planting is of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Tempranillo and Cabernet are planted on the highest ridges, which are considered to be part of Mount Veeder, a Napa AVA (American Viticultural Area) where Cabernet Sauvignon thrives.
Suddenly an inky dark wine appears (the glass at the right). This is Galatea, a Cabernet-Tempranillo blend that reflects the way Artesa links California and Spain. From the 2014 vintage and bottle-aged for two years, it hasn't been released yet.
Then came lunch--the tasting took place at Good Measure in Atwater Village, the first restaurant for Matthew Kaner, known for his involvement in wine bars. Not surprisingly, Kaner plans to hold more wine events there.
The Pinot Noir is distributed nationally, but the Albariño (above) has not yet been released. It's "an incredible variety with great potential in Carneros," Diogo Draper says. The wine was made with 70% estate grapes. The remaining 30% came from a local grower.
But Artesa's primary focus is on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Speaking of the Chardonnay featured at the master class, Diogo Draper says, "I love it. I'm really happy with the 2016 vintage. It's a fantastic vintage for Chardonnay and Pinot." These two varieties "really shine" in Carneros, as she says.