Dealy Lane, off Old Sonoma Road, Carneros.

by Sergio Sismondo

Fine architecture, Fine art and Fine wine seem to be made for each other -- they are as eternal friends. In Artesa the three companions share one hill, one estate, one building, and one state of mind -- the search for balanced perfection.

On top of a hill in the Carneros district, partly carved into the hill and partly emerging from it, is this splendid winery. The building is approached through an imposing staircase leading to a walkway flanked by two magnificent pools. Fountains are everywhere. It must be seen to be appreciated. The Barcelona-based firm Cordoniu, world-wide famous makers of Cava wines, and By Appointment to His Majesty the King of Spain for nearly five centuries, is the parent company of Artesa. Both inside and outside the building is a collection of the works of resident artist Gordon Huether as well as a fascinating museum-like display of other historical and artistic elements, some ancient and some new, which represent the five-hundred years long history of the enterprise. The tasting room is large, comfortable and definitely friendly. It leads to a terrace with fantastic panoramic views of the Carneros valleys and views which stretch as far south as San Francisco Bay. A visit to Artesa winery is a delight for every wine lover; beginner or connoisseur, amateur or professional. Art lovers and admirers of beautiful architecture will unquestionably also delight in making this visit.
Liane and Sergio Sismondo with friends in the barrel room at ARTESA   Liane and Sergio Sismondo at ARTESA  

The energetic and knowledgeable "TJ", T.J. Hartman is the VIP and Special Events Coordinator, who treats guests to history lessons, dissertations on art and sculpture, and much information about the wines. Wine experts Dan May and Rick Dudley guide visitors through wine tastings. We have tasted a variety of wines, both whites and reds -- Chardonnay, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, four different varieties of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and a Bordeaux Style red blend named "Elements" We found all the wines to be excellent and rated them in the very high eighties and up to middle nineties. Following is a table with our ratings for recent and current releases.
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Albarino Carneros 2005 89
Cabernet Franc, Alexander Valley, Limited Release 2004 88
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 2000 90
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 2001 91
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 2003 91
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2000 90
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2001 90
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Reserve, 1998 93
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Reserve, 1999 93
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Reserve, 2000 91
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Reserve, 2001 92
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Reserve, 2002 93
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Reserve, 2003 93
Cabernet-Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Reserve, 2004 91
Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2001 88
Chardonnay, Carneros, 2001 87
Chardonnay, Carneros, 2003 87
Chardonnay, Carneros, Limited Release 2005 89
Chardonnay, Carneros, Reserve, 2001 88
Chardonnay, Carneros, Reserve, 2002 89 (2)
Chardonnay, Carneros, Reserve, 2004 90
Chardonnay, Carneros, Estate 2004 88
Chardonnay, Carneros, Estate 2005 88
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir Champenoise, Grand Reserve 92
Elements, Napa Valley, 2001 89
Granacha Rose Alexander Valley 2004 87
Merlot, Sonoma County, 1999 89
Merlot, Sonoma County, Reserve, 1999 93
Merlot, Sonoma County, Reserve, 2001 92
Merlot, Napa Valley, 1999 88
Merlot, Napa Valley, 2001 89 (3)
Merlot, Napa Valley, Reserve 2003 91
Merlot, Napa Valley, Reserve 2004 90
Merlot, "Elements" 2001 89
Merlot, "Elements" 2002 88
Pinot Blanc Carneros 2005 88
Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley (1), 2001 87
Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2003 90
Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, 2001 89
Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, 2002 90
Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2001 89
Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2002 89
Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2003 90
Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2005 89
Pinot Noir, Carneros,   2006 89
Pinot Noir, Carneros, Limited Release 2005 90
Pinot Noir, Carneros, Reserve, 2001 90
Pinot Noir, Carneros, Reserve, 2002 91
Pinot Noir, Carneros, Reserve, 2003 90
Pinot Noir, Carneros, Estate 2004 90
Pinot Noir Rose Brut n.v. 89
Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Reserve, 2001 87
Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Reserve, 2002 89
Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Reserve, 2003 89
Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Reserve, 2004 89
Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, Reserve 2005 89
Syrah, Sonoma Valley, 2000 87
Syrah, Sonoma Valley, 2001 88
Syrah, Sonoma Valley, 2003 88
Syrah, Sonoma Valley, 2004 89
Tempranillo, Alexander Valley 2003 90
Tempranillo, Alexander Valley Estate 2004 89

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(1) This Russian River Valley Pinot Noir distinguished itself with a Gold Medal at the Sonoma County 2003 Harvest Fair.

(2) This Chardonnay won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Competition.

(3) This Merlot won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Competition.

We absolutely love the four varieties of 2002 and 2003 Pinot Noir, and heartily recommend them. At about $25 each and $40 for the Carneros reserve they are among the best buys available for Pinot Noirs of California. We can't wait to return to Artesa to sample new Pinot Noir releases.

  • Our choice of the best red wine tasted was the Pinot Noir, Carneros, Reserve, 2002, which is priced at $40 and we rated 91. This is a superb wine of great complexity, with strong structure and long finish. It is a treat to drink now, but can also be aged for a moderate period.
  • A second choice was the Cabernet-Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 2000, a wonderfully rich wine which is priced at only $30 with our rating of 90. It will only get better.

The Pinot Noir wines which we tasted are included in the extensive Pinot Noir listing in this web site, in the section "Wine Listings / West Coast - Pinot Noir".

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Liane and Sergio Sismondo and friends at ARTESA