Artesa: Familiar Name, Unfamiliar Quality

Artesa is one of those labels that you've seen around, but you just can't recall when you last had one.  Available all over the country, this Napa-based winery churns out the standard portfolio of California wines (Cab, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot, Sauv Blanc) along with a few interesting smaller bottlings: Tempranillio, Albarino, and a Cab Franc.

It had been so long since I'd had an Artesa wine that I wasn't sure what to expect when a trio of samples from their core product line arrived: a Cab, a Chard, and a Pinot.  While the Chard was what you'd expect from a $15 Carneros Chardonnay, the Pinot was a real value.  But the Cab, whoa, the Cab was fantastic, even if on the pricey side.

Keep an eye out for these on your shopping trips...

2009 Artesa Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Artisan Series $46*
Though huge, overly extracted Cabs seem to be increasingly in vogue, this medium-bodied, classy specimen is more than capable of delivering full tilt drinking enjoyment.  This is one pleasure point-hitting beverage.  A Swiss Army knife of sorts, it has quite a few tricks in store: cedary high notes, gently gripping tannins, restrained fruit aplenty, and a lingering aftertaste that lasts longer than it takes to reach for the next sip.  And very approachable, to boot.  Fantastic. 

2009 Artesa Pinot Noir Carneros $20*
Joins the small ranks of $20 Pinots that are actually worth it.  Comforting spiciness rounded out by warming vanilla-infused oak, this characteristically Carneros, fruit-driven wine keeps it interesting without interfering oddities or imbalance.  I'll buy this wine in the future.

*A little searching should turn these up at substantial discount.