I’ve been looking forward to this event since it was announced a while back. I missed out on the previous malbecs at Arterra, and I’m so enamored with the ’16 that I had to see what the ’13 and ’14 brought with them.
Jason (the owner) scheduled the tastings to be on the hour and the 1:00 hour brought the ’13 and ’14 cab francs. ’13 was the first Arterra vintage he released. He started the tasting by describing the clone and vineyard he was using in 2013 and how in 2014 he moved to a different clone of the cab franc vine in a different location in Purcellville. So in noticing differences between the wines, we were working with three different variables – the clone of the grape, the “terroir” of the vineyard, and the growing season’s impact on the grapes. The winemaker is the same, and his process remains pretty steady, so it’s interesting to compare these other effects on the same varietal.
To me the 2013 was good, but ended with a little bit of a tang to it. Interestingly, for Wine Friend 2, (who typically does not care for cab franc at all), it felt like it had phases to it, and it was more complex than cab franc typically provides. For the 2014 I found it smoother and more typical of what I think of as cab franc, while Wine Friend 2 found it very simple. Because these are the vineyard and grape vines he is using now, there were similarities between the ’14 and the currently released ’16 wines.
At 2:00 the malbec comparison for ’13 and ’14 began. As with the cab franc, the ’13 was one clone of malbec in one vineyard, and the ’14 was a different clone in a different vineyard, and is the same he is producing now. The 2013 was a sharper and more intense malbec, with an incredible smell to it – dark and wonderful fruit. The 2014 was closer to the ’16 we love, and Wine Friend 2 noted the sulfur (I didn’t notice it at first sip, but definitely picked it up after). We had an interesting discussion about the sulfur quality in the taste, and how it would mellow over time in the wine. The ’14 was much more my style and bore a strong resemblance to the ’16, and because it reminded me of that, and the malbec is off the tasting room menu, Wine Friend 2 and I both bought more bottles of it to bring home.
This event was right up my alley, and I loved every moment of it – these comparison tastings and hearing about the growing season and how that impacts the grapes and the eventual wine is so fun and interesting. Because it was a good scene, we had the opportunity to talk with Jason about lots of aspects of the wines and his approach. The winery was holding this as an Open House with complimentary cookies (yum!) and I also bought a dish of cassoulet, which was from a nearby restaurant – it was delicious!
I would love more wineries to hold these types of events – vertical comparison tastings – to showcase where they have been and where they are headed next!