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Walnut Creek Magazine

Wine and Music Harmonize at Arietta - One of Napa’s Best Kept Winery Secrets

Dec 02, 2016 08:53AM ● By Fran Miller
Fritz Hatton

Born of a love of both wine and classical music, Ariettalocated along the Silverado Trail in St. Helena, is one of Napa’s best kept winery secrets. Founded in 1996 by classical music fans Fritz and Caren Hatton, in partnership with winemaker John Kongsgaard and his wife Maggie, Arietta takes its name from Beethoven’s Arietta movement of his last Piano Sonata, Opus 11, and the wines are as melodious as their inspiration. The super-premium Arietta varietals are available directly from the winery via their mailing list, and small quantities may be found in fine restaurants and specialty retail shops. Arietta also hosts by appointment guests for private tastings in an intimate space among the barrels at St. Helena’s Chateau Boswell. 

Caren and Fritz Hatton

Proprietor Fritz Hatton is well-known among charity wine auction attendees for his booming voice, bowties, and jovial manner in mustering millions of dollars for worthy causes at events like Auction Napa Valley and L’Ete du Vin. Wine collectors also know him as the man who launched Christie’s US wine department. But so covert is Arietta, few are aware of Hatton’s role as the vintner behind the label that features a detail of Beethoven’s original Opus 11 manuscript – written long after the composer had lost his hearing – making it one of the most revolutionary pieces of music ever composed. Fewer still are aware of Hatton’s classical piano training and love of opera, the inspirations for this winery that celebrates its 20th harvest this year. 

Arietta winemaker Andy Erickson

Serendipity struck during Arietta’s founding year when the vintners’ friend Lee Hudson gave them access to fruit from his spectacular two-acre block of Cabernet Franc in Carneros. The fruit from this vineyard block still provides the melodic core of the Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyards Red Wine. Renowned winemaker Andy Erickson ‘composes’ the luxe Arietta wines from carefully selected vineyard blocks in cool-climate regions of the Napa Valley. He produces five limited production red wines—H Block Hudson Vineyards, Variation One, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot Hudson Vineyards, and Quartet—and one white wine, On The White Keys, a mouthwatering blend of Sauvignon Blanc and the viscous and honeyed texture of Semillon that produces vibrant flavors.

Arietta’s entire wine ‘libretto’ includes: 

H Block Hudson $150:  Arietta’s flagship blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot is sourced from the unique 2.3-acre vineyard block on Hudson Ranch in Napa Carneros that started it all.                       

Variation One $100: An innovative blend of Syrah and Merlot from Hudson Ranch.

Merlot $75: 100% Merlot is sourced from the I Block on the Hudson Ranch on the Napa side of Carneros.

Arietta Red Wine Quartet Label with illustration by Libby Hatton

Quartet $65: A dynamic ensemble of four classic Bordeaux varietals—Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot—sourced from Coombsville and Calistoga. The label features a drawing by the Hatton’s daughter Libby of string quartet instruments.

Cabernet Sauvignon $125:  Powerful and evocative single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon from Arietta’s 1.6-acre block in Coombsville, planted in 1995.

Cabernet Sauvignon “88 Keys” $275: A two-barrel selection of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a tiny quantity of Petit Verdot, given extended aging and produced only in selected vintages since 2010.      

On The White Keys $65:  A complex barrel fermented blend of approximately 70% hillside Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma Mountain, and 10% Sauvignon Musque and 20% old-vine Semillon from Hyde Vineyards in Carneros. 

On The White Keys “Artists’ Reserve” $85: A four to eight-barrel cuvee blended from barrels of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon given extended aging in oak (up to 24 months)

To make wine tasting reservations at Arietta, call 707-963-5918 or email [email protected]

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