Monday, March 31, 2014

Tasting with Mark Beringer of Artesa Vineyards & Winery

I was pleased to have the opportunity to taste the current selections of Artesa Vineyards and Winery with winemaker, Mark Beringer, while he was in town. We sat down together at Cru Wine Bar on upper Kirby to talk about not only the five years that he has put into Artesa but where he started and how he feels about where he is now and what he is doing.

Growing up Napa for Mark meant growing up as a country kid. Napa had not yet become the wine destination that we all know and love today. As a direct descendant of Jacob Beringer, the co founder of Beringer Vineyards, Mark did have many opportunities to immerse himself in all the various aspects of the wine business. He started on the low end stocking shelves and cleaning up in his parent's wine store when he was young. His uncle put him to work at his winery while Mark worked on his degree in enology in college. This was followed by a short stint at Glen Ellen and then a more illustrious career at Duckhorn from 1992-2005. After a few years of consulting, Mark joined the Artesa team in 2009. The first few years that Mark was at Artesa, he was working with the previous wine maker's wine. He had a different vision for the wine that he wanted to create. 

The current selections were all overseen by him from start to finish so he was proud to show the direction that Artesa is taking their wine. As a Napa Valley native and someone who has worked the harvests for Napa and Sonoma for almost 30 years, he has great knowledge of what the different vineyard sites are able to produce. He blends these component wines to create a consistent, easy drinking style. He uses less new oak in order to showcase what the terroir creates for the more affordable Carneros line while the more expensive and complex Estate Reserve wines spend a bit more time aging in new oak barrels.

The Tasting:


  • 2012 Carneros Chardonnay (SRP $20) - An ideal growing season, this wine delivers the bright fruit character that Mark says you should expect from Carneros, fresh aromas of honeysuckle, citrus zest and ripe peach with matching flavors, a medium body with refreshing acidity and a smooth, mineral-laced finish.
  • 2011 Estate Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay (SRP $40) - A low yield year after challenging weather, the component wines were sourced from the estate's best vineyard blocks and fermented and aged in French Oak of which 50% was new. Malolactic fermentaion and aging on the lees created a rich and more full bodied wine while still maintaining its fresh fruit character and food friendly acidity. It had pronounced floral aromas of citrus flower with apricot and lemon flavors and a long mineral-laced finish from the vineyard's gravelly soil.
  • 2012 Carneros Pinot Noir (SRP $25) - The house wine at Mark's home, this had aromas and flavors of cherry and strawberry with a bit of toast, medium body, smooth moderate tannins, fresh acidity and a long red fruit finish.
  • 2011 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir (SRP $40) - Floral aromas of fresh rose petals with raspberry and cherry aromas and flavors, this wine was medium body with smooth moderate tannins, fresh acidity and a long slightly spicy finish.
  • 2010 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $45) - Pronounced aromas and flavors of rich, ripe blackberries and cassis with a full body, smooth ripe medium + tannins, fresh acidity and a long, toffee and black fruit finish.

All Recommended! 
The Carneros line is widely available in town and you should expect to see more of the Estate Reserve selections on restaurant menus.