There I was getting ready to try two different vintages of Arrow & Branch Red Blend wines while I was at Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. I mean how can you not enjoy yourself when you are tasting some wines that are from Napa Valley, but are made to emulate the wines of Bordeaux. Not the big jammy wines that are being produced to curry the favors and the numbers of some of the big names that write about wines. Arrow & Branch are marching to their own drummer, and doing a fine job of it. They have a winemaker by the name of Jennifer Williams who is helping to make this wine and their vision a reality.
Jennifer Williams began as a harvest intern and split her time between Araujo and Spottswoode. She grew up outside of San Diego and had originally planned on being a veterinarian. She caught the call of viticulture and she hasn’t looked back. She worked as an Enologist at Trefethen Family Vineyards and even worked a harvest in Spain’s Rioja Alavesa region. She became the Vineyard Manager and then the Winemaker at Spottswoode from 2006 to 2011. She now works very closely with the Vineyard Manager at Arrow & Branch to make sure the soil and the vines are healthy at all of their vineyards, with the goal of making the wine that the owners want and at the expense of big production.
I am hard pressed to write about the two wines that we tasted, as they were not made to be mirror images of each other, but the wine maker was driven to evoke that Right Bank Blend. The two wines were the Arrow & Branch Red Blend 2013 and the 2014 vintage. The wines were a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot; the 2013 was fifty-nine percent Cabernet Franc and the 2014 was fifty-five percent Cabernet Franc. The fruit was all harvested from the Arrow & Branch Estate Vineyard, the Lewelling and the Stagecoach Vineyards and carries the Coombsville St. Helena AVA. They were barrel aged for twenty months in French Oak, of which seventy-five percent was new. The winery produces two-hundred-fifty cases of this wine each year, definitely not a bulk wine. The wines both showed the pedigree of being family and I could notice the difference between the two wines, but I could not claim a marked preference of one vintage over the other, and I think that is the talent of the Winemaker to make two wines that are not clones of each other, but wines that you wouldn’t mind having. I find that the Cabernet Franc offers more red fruit to the taste of the wine, and I think the tannins are more subdued and truly regal, and both of these wines gave a nice long finish. I didn’t buy any, but I am sure that ten to twenty years in the cellar will really make these wines a real bargain.