2006 Arietta "Variation One" Napa Valley Red Blend

SKU #1065372 94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Good full medium ruby. Wild aromas of black raspberry, game, smoke and gravel. Lush and sweet, with the gamey quality joined by chocolate and roasted herbs on the very ripe palate. Finishes with substantial fine-grained tannins. Big and rich but fresh: winemaker Andy Erickson told me he uses the merlot "to tame and freshen the syrah, and to lower the wine's pH."  (6/2009)

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The blend of 55-60% Syrah and the rest Merlot is called Variation One (450-500 cases produced). The dense purple-hued 2006 Variation One exhibits notes of asphalt, chocolate, blackberries, and forest floor, and an extravagantly rich, full-bodied style with none of the noticeable tannin found in some of the other 2006s. This broad, savory, complex wine should provide provocative drinking over the next 15 or more years. (RP)  (12/2008)

92 points Wine Spectator

 Firm, complex and full-bodied, with spicy, peppery wild berry flavors that walk the line of balance without wavering, ending with firm, dry tannins. Ends with a nice burst of grapey berry fruit and mineral and then some creamy oak. (JL)  (4/2009)

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Price: $79.99

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Napa Valley

- America's most famous wine region, which encompasses a varied geographical territory running about 20 miles long from the San Francisco Bay northward to the foot of Mount St. Helena. Napa's great diversity, both in terms of climate and terroir, has led to the creation of a number of smaller AVAs like Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Mount Veeder, among others. Cabernet and chardonnay still reign supreme, but just about everything under the sun is grown in Napa Valley, in quality levels ranging from $2 jug wine to $500 a bottle California cab.