Today there is a new generation of vintners with different objectives than their fathers or grandfathers. Rather than seeking maximum yield from the vines the goal is now for quality.
This is well illustrated with a Piedmonte white grape called Arneis. In an Italian dialect the word means 'Little Rascal", so given since it is a grape that is difficult to grow. Because of its reputation for its difficult ways it almost became extinct.
However both in Italy and in Califonia a new generation of vintners accepted the challenge and a rescue has taken place.
The 32nd anniversary dinner of Jeanne Bartlett's Wino organization in Ventura County was one place where Arneis was featured.
Serving their wines that evening were Pete and Cathie Seghesio, third generation members of Seghesio Family Vineyards, one of the oldest vintners in Sonoma County.
The first wine served that evening was Seghesio 2006 Arneis, It is a white wine with most delicate aromas and flavors. We loved the wine and wondered why it has not become more popular even with its past reputation for being unruly.
Just a few evenings later we experienced an Italian version of this varietal at a dinner that took place at Luciana's Ristorante at Dana Point.
One of the wines served was Vietti Roero Arneis. Marcelino Cosio, account manager for The Estates Group, acted as Sommelier that evening and explained how young winemakers in Piedmonte were reintroducing the varietal. Again we found the wine most enjoyable and everyone at our table agreed. In fact the women practically swooned over it.
Winemaker Dave Guffy roams vineyards to find the right grape for the right wine. Hess now has an Appellation Series including a 2006 Monterey Chardonnay. From a Monterey coastal valley this wine offers lush fruit that explodes as the cork is pulled. We thought it an excellent cocktail wine and we certainly liked the price at $11.50.
Dave Guffy went traveling for the 2005 Hess Appellation Cabernet Sauvignon. It includes grapes from Napa, Mendocino, and Lake counties. The finished blend includes 83 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 11 per cent Syrah and six per cent merlot. A very nice wine for every day use with a variety of foods, Full flavors and mild tannins here. Priced at $15.
There is no question that Napa Valley sets the standard for California cabernet sauvignon. This was established once again for us when we tasted Hess collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. This 2004 Estate Grown vintage showed remarkable intensity in both aroma and flavors. This is a special occasion wine to be enjoyed with family or friends at a bountiful table. This is also a wine we would like to taste again after some cellar time. Priced at $50.
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