27 July 2009

A Pair of Bottles from the Artisan Family of Wines

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.


Mark said...

That looks like a serious Rose. Thanks for providing the pictures as well, makes it easier to find your recommendations. Keep up the good work!

Benito said...


I enjoyed the rosé, and hope you get a chance to check it out. Thanks for reading!


The Wine Commonsewer (TWC) said...

Clear Lake is an up and coming wine region. I expect good things from this area. :-)

Benito said...


I wasn't familiar with either of these regions before I tried the wines, but I'm glad I did. It's amazing what people are accomplishing in the various nooks and crannies of California.


fredric koeppel said...

I tasted some of the "Artisan" wines, and enjoyed them for their individuality. They may not be great (objectively or subjectively speaking), but there's nothing cookie-cutter about them, and they're priced fairly.

Benito said...


Great point. The more wines you try over time, the more you value unique character. The rosé in particular was a welcome change of pace.