Arterra 2022 White Wines Release

You’re gonna get a two-fer this weekend! Well, I’m busy with my paying job, so part two will take a few days, so try to be patient.

Since I live in the Charlottesville area now, it’s harder for me to get to the wineries I used to frequent in Northern Virginia. Add that to work schedules for both me and my husband, and things start to get really complex. Top it off with a side of old age aches and pains that get exacerbated with two plus hours in the car and it’s just not pretty.

But it’s a price worth paying for incredible wine and great experiences.

So Saturday’s afternoon and evening at Arterra was both of these things, and was worth it. In this post, we’ll cover part one of the visit, the sampling of Arterra’s 2022 white wines.

I never miss the Arterra releases because Jason produces smaller batches of wine- he has made a deliberate choice to keep his production to the size he can manage and control personally rather than build a large team and release thousands of cases each year. It feels like a balancing point he chose intentionally so he can stay focused on the artistic side of wine making and maintain his personal involvement in it, rather than end up managing many projects at one time. As such, the wines sell out quickly, and if you’re not there early, you miss out. Jason gave us a great overview of this release in this video.

Such was the case with the beautiful Chenin Blanc – which I first found in 2018 – I think 2017 was their very first release of their Estate block of Chenin. It sold out so fast, and I didn’t get enough, so when the 2018 Chenin was released in 2019, I grabbed more than a case of it. It still wasn’t enough. During the beginnings of the COVID lockdown, I got lucky enough to be featured in Arterra’s white wine release video along with Jason, and I bought a ton of the 2019 Chenin. Similarly, a good amount was consumed of the 2020 and 2021.

I find that Chenin, especially made in the style Jason does with native yeast fermentation and clean processes, varies in style significantly year over year. Whether that is a product of the year’s weather I can’t say. Could it be the vines maturing? Is it my own palette making shifts in preference?

The first three years of Arterra’s Chenin were this incredibly bright, acidic, crisp apple and pear bursting in your mouth experience. I fell totally in love with it. The 2020 was also quite good but seemed a little suppressed in comparison to the previous vintages. The 2021 turned out muted, in my estimation, with a sense that it pulled back a lot and was more of an introvert than it’s previous manifestations. The 2022 brings my old friend Chenin back with some more brightness and lots of apple and acid to it. Because of the events of the evening I didn’t get to discuss it with Jason since he was so busy. But I believe it’s a grape that must be hyper-responsive to seasonal shifts and therefore presents very differently each year. It’s that wonderful grape that is bright and forward and expressive in your glass and mouth. It was a good solid Chenin. I’m seeing a lot more grown and bottled in Virginia, which is exciting.

This year Arterra adds a new friend to their white wine lineup – Gruner Veltliner. I’ve been seeing more Gruner in Virginia lately and I really love it. This was a lovely and crisp Gruner, and really is an impressive example of the wine. There was a little bit of tangy citrus sense to it that just made it pleasant and refreshing.

The new Roussanne is just lovely. I seem to appreciate this grape more every single year. I think last year I declared it to be “Best in Show” for their white release. In the tasting notes they mention describe butterscotch. I found that interesting, it’s not exactly what I got from it. In fact, in the first moments of the first sip I gasped and I thought I was tasting a bit of oak almost and then it went completely away – so I must be misperceiving something that had a nuttiness or maybe almost toffee quality to it that disappeared and became completely clean. There was an ever so slight finish to it that held on for a few seconds too. Roussanne is becoming a really cool grape on this site, showing a lot more depth as time goes on. The 2022 is a solid addition, and Jason feels this grape will age for a bit and develop.

Chardonnay. I’ve never been the world’s biggest Chardonnay fan. Arterra has always made a clean and crisp Chardonnay that’s enjoyable. In fact, for the last few years now, they’ve had three on their menu, a traditional, Zero Sulfite, and Amphora. Each is quite distinct in how they present.

Traditional Chardonnay was the first taste for me. This was the Arterra Chardonnay I’m used to, very consistent, but this year with a layer that I’d call almost a tiny bit smoky. It was unexpected, but overall quite good.

Next up in the lineup was the Rosé, which I will describe before diving into the other two Chardonnays. This year the rosé is 100% Petit Verdot. And as that would lead you to believe, there is big tart fruit with a lot of acidity in this wine. It has a good taste that gives you lots of pep and something to think about.

Back to the Chardonnays – my winner for the three was the Zero Sulfite Chardonnay – this was very, very bright with a ton of acidic zing. It was so simple in its presentation in your mouth and left you with a ton of satisfaction. This is the essence of clean wine presentation, I think. No butter, no toasty oak, nothing but happiness in this glass.

Finally, the Amphora Chardonnay. This wine was more complex and layered with flavor – a minerality quality at the beginning I get in other Amphora wines. I think the extra time on the skins gives it such a complicated character – there is a lot to this wine and my senses needed time to sort it out, but it was all pleasant. I did not end up taking one home because I thought the zero sulfite was my winner for the Chardonnays this year. This is interesting, and if you haven’t tried it, you should!

I did not get a sample of the Taminette. I’ve never liked this grape in any wine I’ve had, and I’m avoiding it. I have noted that Jason has made me enjoy a glass of one of my most hated grapes of all time (Norton) that I subsequently bought two bottles of (that I’m definitely saving for a special occasion, cause they rock). I did limit myself because I was in the mood for my favorite big red.

I ended up coming home with a bunch of Gruner and 1 each of zero sulfite chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, and Rosé. My hauls are getting smaller as I have over 100 bottles in stock now (need to throw those comparison parties I’ve always written and dreamed about). But these wines are great, and will sell off quickly. The place was pretty full at 4 p.m. on a Saturday when I got there, so don’t expect these to last.

Arterra’s white wines remain a great and important part of their program, bringing clean, fresh, crisp and bright wines forward to the public, an example of how to produce great wines with minimal intervention. Their reds get a lot more attention, and to be fair, tend to be among my very favorites. With these, I sat back in the early evening sun coming through the trees and reflected on how much I love their wines and enjoyed a glass of their Crooked Run red blend while I waiting for part two of my visit, which will be the next post – the Tannat Vertical Wine Dinner. Yum……

2 thoughts on “Arterra 2022 White Wines Release

  1. Love the article! We are a grower for Arterra and are so excited about the Gruner. Of course we love Jason’s chardonnays and enjoy sharing the rose with our family and friends. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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