Mendocino-based Maple Creek Winery releases many of its wines under a second label, Artevino, which winemaker (and artist) Tom Rodrigues uses to showcase “French style wine” made in California.
Today we look at a sextet of Artevino bottlings in current release, as well as one wine bottled under the Maple Creek brand (which seems to be on the way out in favor of Artevino).
2017 Maple Creek Winery Artevino Chardonnay Estate Yorkville Highlands – Quite creamy and vanilla-scented, this classic chardonnay offers secondary notes of lemon peel, grapefruit, and rosemary, making for a nicely complex yet easily approachable experience. The barrel influence ultimately gets a little weighty as you reach the bottom of a glass, though, and the palate begins to long for something a bit more acidic. A- / $38
2014 Maple Creek Winery Artevino Pinot Noir Anderson Valley – Quite earthy up front, this emerges as a surprisingly austere pinot, a quite unexpected expression from this region. Initially a bit dusty, the wine shows notes of black fruit and a curious fig jam character that eventually takes the wine in a different direction. The finish is lightly peppery, with some blackberry notes adding gravitas. A- / $40
2017 Maple Creek Winery Artevino Pinot Noir Estate Yorkville Highlands – This is a somewhat fresher wine than the Anderson Valley bottling above (in small part because it’s 3 years younger), its fruit focused on blackberry and blueberry jam notes. Some duskier notes of cloves and cedar box give the finish a slightly gritty conclusion, though the overall complexion is one that’s quite fresh and fragrant. A gem. A / $45
2017 Maple Creek Winery Artevino Pinot Noir Yorkville Highlands Lark Creek Vineyard – A surprisingly earthy expression of pinot noir, this expression pours on notes of graphite, licorice, and charred wood, before slowly dialing back the savory notes to reveal blackberry and plum notes lingering in the background. Very food-friendly, despite the intensity and density. A- / $NA
2016 Maple Creek Winery Artevino Zinfandel Largo Ridge Vineyard – Iconic zin, with a brisk blackberry jam note complemented by black pepper and lots of cola. The finish takes a turn toward a chocolaty note, though it never straws far from that rich black (and ultimately, also juicy red) fruit character. Second bottle reviewed; first bottle had oxidized badly. B+ / $38
2006 Maple Creek Winery Artevino Zinfandel Largo Ridge Vineyard – Our first 2016 Largo Ridge Zin was off, so Rodrigues sent us a replacement, along with this wine — the same bottling from 10 years prior. Zinfandel isn’t a grape that lends itself to long periods of aging, and after 13 years this bottling is definitely showing its age, almost Port-like with notes of plump raisins and dark chocolate, with a slight balsamic edge beginning to show its face. That said, there’s plenty of depth here amidst the austerity, and airtime helps open things up, making for a fun exploration into the past. The wine’s still got a few years left before it hits the steeper slopes of the downturn. B+ / $NA
2016 Maple Creek Winery Chardonnay Estate Yorkville Highlands – Our sole non-Artevino-branded label here, this wine is a more iconic California chardonnay, loaded with brown butter and spice notes, silky with vanilla and almond character. Pillowy, almost marshmallow-like, on the finish. Dried fig and cinnamon notes give the back end a certain heavy sweetness. B / $38