Aug 30
Artisan Family Wines — A great find!
posted by: dawn in Wine Tasting on 08 30th, 2009 | |

There’s something special about food and wine that’s prepared by a person with passion. You can taste the energy that went into preparation. Typically you only find true passion in small operations. Big brands started small, but the only way they can grow big is to hire people that work for a paycheck. That doesn’t make them bad – just not a standout.

I love stumbling across neighborhood restaurants, craft beers or small production wines that are created by people who did what I don’t have the courage to; they chucked the corporate life and pursued their passion. These people are brave artists that I admire. They pour their heart into developing a product that they hope others will enjoy and are daring enough to produce something unique.

I recently had the fortune to uncover a hidden gem in the form of wine and I’m excited to share it with you, yet a little reluctant – what if you guys order all the wine and they run out for me? *giggle* That gem is the Artisan Family of Wines.

In July, I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in California. On day 1 we had a “speed tasting” where almost 30 wineries from Sonoma came and in 6 minutes tried to make their wine stand out. Lots of the big brands were there and a fair amount of small producers. Due to the sheer volume of information it was difficult for anyone to stand out. And that was just day 1.

I came away from the event with a short list of wines that I wanted to share with you. Sly Dog Cabernet Sauvignon stood out not only because I am a dog lover but also because I really enjoyed the wine. Napa is known for its Cabernets. And frankly most of them taste exactly the same and have inflated prices because they are from “Napa”. Sly Dog is from Lake County which enjoys similar weather and soil conditions as Napa; meaning the grapes develop similar flavors. The wine was full bodied and had a well developed late summer berry flavor. The best part was the finish after a big berry hug – there was a spicy peppery note but no bitter tannin. In my humble yet strong opinion wine shouldn’t be so dry and full of tannin that as you swallow it you feel like all the moisture has been sucked out of your mouth nor should you have to “acquire” a taste for it. That’s what snobs say to each other while they congratulate themselves on how much smarter they are than the people who haven’t forced themselves to like what they’ve been told is quality.

The Cabernet Sauvignon from Sly Dog is NOT an acquired taste. It’s a fantastic glass of wine that you can enjoy alone or with food. The flavors come to you in waves, this wine is powerful without being overwhelming and has great layers. They suggest pairing it with moderately spiced grilled meat. I don’t think they are giving the wine enough credit. I had it with my homemade Spaghetti Bolognese and it was perfect. Sly Dog retails for about $15 a bottle (HUGE BARGAIN). You can buy it online using Vino Shipper.

They also offer a Meritage and Petite Sirah under the Seven Artisans Label. I am a HUGE fan of Meritage in general and especially a fan of the 2006 Seven Artisans Meritage. It’s a blend of 89.5% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 0.25% Malbec, and 0.25% Petite Verdot. To me this wine felt like a classic Bordeaux style red. Meritage blends cannot have more than 90% of one blend, so Seven Artisans is pushing it with the Merlot; but it works. There is more to this wine than an average Merlot, it’s bold and beautiful, full of dark jammy fruit flavors but with the right acidity to balance and pair nicely with rich foods. I’m thinking a winter night, a beef stew and maybe some dark chocolate at the end. At $17.99 per bottle, it’s a great value. Order it here: Vino Shipper

And last but not least I’m loving their Petite Sirah. Typically, Petite Sirah is a wine with a good amount of tannin – and the Seven Artisans fits that bill, but in a good way, not the sharp tannin my pallet objects to. There is a lot of complexity to this wine, nice body and finish. I would not pair this wine with a moderately flavored food, this is not a Lipton Soup Roast kind of wine (though what do you pair with salt flavored salt). It’s more of a African style stew or Moroccan beef kind of wine. It is also $17.99 per bottle and available online.

This Artisan Family wines is a small vineyard where the owners have put their full attention into producing a quality wine that’s an incredible vineyard.  Every detail gets the full attention of the owners and it shows.  The go-to big brand wines are fine but please break your routine and order some of this wine.  I would put any of these wines in a 90 point category and I think you’ll find it worth the effort of planning to place the order plus you get the satisfaction of supporting a true artist vs. a corporation!

If you are lucky enough to live in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Southern California, Georgia, and Ohio, these wines are distributed locally.  I’m told they’ll soon be available in Illinois and Iowa. The Sly Dog Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon is distributed in Florida as well.

Now I have to go — it’s time for me to stop writing about wine and start drinking it.  Cheers!

3 Responses to “Artisan Family Wines — A great find!”

  1. thank you for the tip…this is now on our list!

  2. Glad to hear it! you’ll enjoy it

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