Watching someone stay true to their vision over a decade rather than following the heard is a joy to behold. And when you taste the wines you instantly understand and appreciate what these two cutting-edge winemakers are creating.
The mission at Arnot-Roberts is making wines that are balanced, express the unique terroir of the vineyards, and showcase pure varietal character. The wines are made in a classic style with minimal intervention, judicious use of new oak (depending on the varietal), good acidity, and lower alcohol levels than one typically finds in the various varietals.
I first met Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Roberts over 10 years ago when making their own wine was just a dream. I even have an unlabeled bottle of the very first wine they ever made (but never sold on the market), a Dry Creek Zinfandel.
Duncan and Nathan were childhood friends that grew up in Napa Valley. Nathan is a second generation cooper and builds the French oak barrels used to age Arnot-Roberts wines. Nathan travels to the forests of France each year and carefully selects premium oak from the stave mills that will fit perfectly with the wine profile they want to create. His depth of knowledge surrounding the use of French oak barrels in the wine making process enables them to get just the right effect they need to produce the Arnot-Roberts style of wine.
Duncan grew up around the wine industry in Napa Valley and into his young adulthood. Over the years Duncan has worked at wineries such as Caymus, Groth, Acacia, Kongsgaard, and was Assistant Winemaker for PAX Wine Cellars until 2008. Duncan is all about the vineyards. One can’t help but be riveted to Duncan when he starts describing the unique qualities of each vineyard and how these characters come through in the vineyard designated wines.
Arnot-Roberts was founded in 2001 and specializes in vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from some amazing vineyards such as Hudson, Alder Springs, Griffins Lair, Bugay, and Clajeux. The total production is around 1,200 cases. Some of the vineyard designated wines may only consist of a total of two barrels (50 cases) produced, up to around 6 to 8 barrels on a few others. Truly a boutique, micro winery operation.
Recently we caught up with Nathan doing a Winemaker Pouring at The Wine Shop in Healdsburg where he talks to clients about some of the new releases of Arnot-Roberts Wines.
Arnot-Roberts Wines Tasted (4/20/2010)…
Swindle Rig 2009 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc (1 liter bottle)
Crisp, clean, refreshing, with racy flavors of pink grapefruit, gooseberry, lemon zest and herbs. Just a really fun and delicious wine for sipping around the pool or on the porch on a summer’s evening. With the liter-sized bottle you get about a glass to a glass and a half more than you would from a regular sized bottle, so that’s a nice bonus. ($20)
Arnot-Roberts 2009 Green Island Chardonnay
From the cool southern most region of Napa Valley next to the San Pablo Bay. Steel fermented with about 12.5% alc. Aromas of orange blossom, lemon meringue, and spice. A substantial mouthfeel, yet vibrant and refreshing with appealing flavors of pear, citrus, spice, minerals, and flint. Very food friendly with nice minerality, well-balanced, and excellent varietal character and flavors. ($30)
Arnot-Roberts 2008 California Syrah
From a variety of top vineyards, this is a beautiful, satisfying, dry red wine that is co-fermented with about 10% Viognier in the style of wines from the Northern Rhone Valley of France. Dark crimson red in color with aromas of red and black fruits, smoke and wild flowers. Vibrant blackberry and raspberry flavors with exotic spices, silky tannins, and a lingering finish. ($30)
Arnot-Roberts 2007 Hudson Vineyard Syrah North Block, Napa Valley
Now we’re getting serious, this is a pretty amazing bottle of wine. Teeth-staining ruby, almost opaque in color. Aromas of blackberry, grilled meat, and spice. Focused flavors of dark berries, black cherry, earth and spice, all pulled together with excellent acidity and serious yet resolved tannins. A stunning wine. Be sure to bring along the teeth-whitening strips. ($60)
Arnot-Roberts 2007 Bugay Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
The Bugay Vineyard is an impeccably maintained, hillside vineyard located in the Mayacamas Mountain range of Sonoma County. Prominent aromas of blackberry, currant, violets, cigar box, and earth. Gorgeous, integrated flavors of blackberry, cherry, graphite, rocks and dusty tannins all wrapped in a seamless presentation. Beautifully balanced, full bodied with a luxurious mouthfeel. This is a “WOW” wine that is drinking beautifully now, but has the structure to age for a decade or more, at least. ($80)
The wines of Arnot-Roberts have been a local secret until a couple of years ago when pundits like Robert Parker (Wine Advocate) and Josh Raynolds (Steve Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar), and others started writing about them, awarding them impressive ratings.
Definitely worth trying, if you can find them.
Very highly recommended.