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© 1999 JDM Enterprises
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by Jerry D. Mead

The label is a little artsy for my taste, but it will stand out on the shelf and catch your eye. The brand name is Artesa and the label features a copper foil triangle with what is supposed to represent a "sculpted vine," but frankly looks more like the outline of a woman's leg (minus the foot).

    Artesa is the new premium varietal wine program at what used to be Codorniu Napa in the Carneros region of Napa Valley. Codorniu is the giant Spanish sparkling wine firm with its home base in the area south of Barcelona. This is the region where the ancient language called Catalan is spoken and "Artesa" means artisan or craftsman in Catalan.

    Originally devoted entirely to sparkling wine production, a new star-quality winemaker was brought on board in 1997 with an eye toward making world class table wines as well as bubbly.

    Don Van Staaveren is the winemaker, who came to Artesa directly from Chateau St. Jean where he had been on a serious roll of winning gold medals and top scores for everything from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Meritage Red. It's interesting to note that his best wines from the new collection are all Pinot Noirs.

    The wines are newly released and just finding their way into distribution. For information on retail availability: Artesa, 1345 Henry Rd., Napa, CA 94559 (707) 224-1668; E-mail:

    Artesa 1997 "Russian River" Pinot Noir ($22) Light in color and body for the region, but with true varietal character. Lots of cherry fruit and some earthy complexity. Rating: 89/84

    Artesa 1997 "Santa Barbara" Pinot Noir ($22) Fuller, riper style. Flavors lean more to plum and darker cherry. Soft and voluptuous; great with ahi tuna. Rating: 90/84

    Artesa 1997 "Carneros" Pinot Noir ($22) Very complex! Intense bouquet of crushed petals of dying rose. Darkest color and fullest body of the three Pinots. Fruit is mostly black cherry but there's some of that rose petal quality too. It wants a prime rib or maybe a duck loin in a savory sauce. Rating: 92/84

    The winery also has released a wood-style Sauvignon Blanc and two Chardonnays.



Michael Pozzan is a real person and a brand name. Pozzan doesn't have a real bricks and mortar winery with a tasting room, but he makes wine nevertheless. He uses the facilities of other wineries. Sometimes he buys wines made by others and refines them by blending or aging in barrels. Other times he purchases grapes and oversees their crushing and fermenting at a leased facility.

    Is this practice uncommon? Not at all. You might be surprised at just how many of your favorite wines brands are made under these same kind of arrangements.

    If you have trouble finding any of these current releases contact: Michael Pozzan Wines, P.O. Box 2121, Orinda, CA 94563 (510) 235-8712.

    Michael Pozzan 1997 "Napa-Special Reserve" Chardonnay ($12) Rich, ripe, tropical fruit flavors, enrobed in oak vanillin. Very tasty! Enough acidity to make it food compatible. Rating: 88/88

    Michael Pozzan 1997 "Napa-Special Reserve" Sangiovese ($12) Call this one a "Best Buy." The previous vintage won a gold medal and this one may too once it competes. Flavors are dark cherry and dried cherry. A pleasant touch of bitterness in the finish works to cut through garlic and spice. Full bodied, a tiny percentage of Cabernet adds to its backbone and firmness. Rating: 89/90

    Michael Pozzan 1997 "Sonoma" Shiraz ($14) Ripe plum, a touch of spice and something a little perfumey. Lipsmacking, full-flavored intensity. Delicious now, with a least a five year cellaring potential. Rating: 89/88

    Michael Pozzan 1997 "Alexander Valley" Cabernet Sauvignon ($14) From a very famous property that I'm not permitted to mention. Earthy blackberry nose. Huge, intense, concentrated blackberry and cassis fruit. Very nice with a loin lamb chop, but will handle bolder flavors as venison or blackened salmon or prime rib. Rating: 92/90


    Weibel 1997 "California" Chardonnay ($9 or less) Just released, this oak-aged wine has lots more character than you usually find at this price point. Mostly tropical fruit with a little subtle peach and pear as a bonus. Smells as good as it tastes. Case purchases recommended and it should be a popular restaurant wine by the glass selection. Rating: 87/93



  One of America's fastest growing wine competitions, both as to size and prestige, is the Indy International, chaired by the appropriately named Dr. Richard Vine of Purdue University. Vine also teaches viticulture and enology and is wine buyer for American Airlines.

    More than 2300 entries yielded approximately 10 percent gold medals. My office has a supply of the official awards books which are free, but please send $3 to cover postage and handling: Indy Wine Winners, Box 1598, Carson City, NV 89702.

    American Airlines sponsors trophies for the overall Best of Show plus the Best Red and Best White.

    Best White was Venezia 1997 "Regusci Vineyard-California" Chardonnay. Best Red was Quattro "Sonoma" Cabernet Sauvignon. Overall Best of Show was Barwang 1996 "New South Wales, Australia" Reserve Shiraz.



  A couple of weeks back we published the website address for the Temecula Valley Vintners and a typo appeared in some editions. The correct web address is: or e-mail:

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Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates quality; second number rates value.

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