One of the joys of visiting my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source, is the chance to try many different wines and different styles. They had just received some new vintages from Arrow & Branch Estate of Napa Valley. The owners are the Contursi family and they are famed numismatists that have handled most of the famous coins issued in this country, and they are also fans of Benjamin Franklin. Steve and Seanne Contursi fell in love with the wines of Bordeaux and wanted to make wines like that in California. It is fun to taste New World wines that evoke the Old World and are not big and jammy to curry favor with some wine reviewers. They have decided to make wines that please them, and hopefully others will also appreciate their efforts. While they live in Laguna Beach, California; they are still close enough to Napa Valley and they bought the Etude Wines estate of Tony Soter who was famed for his “Little Creek” Cabernet Franc wine, their favorite varietal. While I did not taste any Cabernet Franc wines, I did taste two of their Cabernet Sauvignon wines and the excellent work achieved by their winemaker Jennifer Williams.
The Arrow & Branch “Black Label” Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017 was a great starting point. Here was a blend of ninety-two percent Cabernet Sauvignon, six percent Merlot and two percent Petit Verdot. The fruit was from two different sub-appellations (St. Helena and Atlas Peak) so it carries the basic Napa Valley appellation. The reason being is that the fruit was harvested from the Lewelling, Criscione, Stagecoach and Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyards. The wine was aged for twenty months in French Oak, of which sixty-five percent were new and they produced two-hundred-ninety-six cases of this wine. This really inky-dark garnet/purplish wine offered notes of black cherries and plums, and delivered the dark fruits along with some spices and a nice lingering finish of terroir. Totally balanced now, give it some time in the cellar and you will complain that you didn’t buy enough.
The Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch Vineyard Oakville 2018 was the second red wine that I tried from the winery. While there weren’t any aging notes on this wine in the technical page, I will presume that this wine was probably aged for twenty months in French Oak with a mixture of new and old and there was only one-hundred-sixty-two cases made of this wine. This dark garnet wine offered notes of black berries and currents and chocolate and strong tannins and terroir that need time in the cellar to tame, and I think it will be really nuanced with plenty of layers of flavor to enjoy.