Admittedly, I don't pay a lot of attention to who owns the wineries of the bottles I review. It's not something I deliberately avoid, but it's pretty low on my list of priorities when it comes to wine. And with the way some labels bounce around over time, it can be difficult to nail down the details. Besides, other writers cover such things better (Fredric, Tom, etc., as well as the wine print media out there). As for me, I've got my own beat. I'd never avoid a bottle based on one of its owners up the chain, but God help me, if a winery uses Comic Sans or another terrible font on the label I'm not touching that stuff.
All of this is a roundabout way of pointing out that within a couple of months, I tried two bottles (both random purchases at separate shops) that were from the same group: the Artisan Family of Wines, based out of California.
First up is the 2007 Red Cote Rosé. 580 cases made. $13, 13.5% abv. 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Sirah. Sourced from the Suisun Valley just east of Napa. I picked this up because I almost never pass up a dry rosé, and because the ruby hue caught my eye. Excellent bottle design here--rosés need clear bottles and non-obstructing labels to show off the beautiful range of colors that are possible.
Touch of tea, oddly enough. Cranberries, spice, red apple, cake, wow, this is interesting... Very low acidity, with a lot of that red apple finish. Think about a spiced New England apple cider. It's not that strong, and it's not sweet at all, but that's what this reminds me of.
Our second selection is the 2004 Sly Dog Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from the Red Hills District of California north of Napa on the shores of Clear Lake. 6,400 cases made. $15, 14.9% abv. Pure Cabernet Sauvignon.
Blueberry and blackberry, firm tannins. Great dark fruit aromas and flavors, and ideal for drinking right now. The tannins might soften a bit with more time, but this is a solid Cabernet Sauvignon at a good price.
I photographed this wine with a very sly dog in the background, Paul's mutt Wendy. Escape artist, thief of butter, buffalo wings, and steak, and skinny enough to slide under porches and furniture like a cat.
Even here, her canine mind knows nothing of wine, but she is fascinated by the attention that I'm paying to the bottle, and she's already plotting how to operate a corkscrew without opposable thumbs.