SONOMA COUNTY - USA
“For me, this is one of California’s most exciting wineries. The wines are restrained and elegant, without any of the over-ripeness that many Californian wines display. They seem to possess a beautiful textural quality, with attractive fruit but also lovely balance.” - Jamie Goode, wineanorak.com
“Winemakers always search for nuance and complexity, but Roberts and Meyers take that quest to its extreme. ‘Texture,’ ‘structure,’ ‘definition,’ and ‘control’ are words that crop up again and again in my notes. These are wines stripped to their essence, all extraneous components removed to reveal the bare brickwork beneath. It’s exhilarating…” - Adam Lechmere, The World of Fine Wine, Issue 49
Arnot-Roberts Wines is a joint project of school-hood friends, Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts. Since founding their winery in 2001, the duo has been one of the most progressive and revolutionary producers on the California landscape. Initially their focus was just on making great Californian wines, but when the cool 2005 vintage gave them wines in a more austere, high acid style than the region was used to, Nathan and Duncan reacted completely differently to practically everyone else in California – they loved them and decided to pursue lower ripeness levels and higher acidity in all of their wines henceforth. Their focus shifted to the best cool climate sites they could find, most of which were struggling to sell their fruit due to the obsession with high sugar levels that was pervasive at the time. Vineyards like Clary Ranch, Fellom Ranch, Luchsinger and Griffin’s Lair are lauded today, but not long ago it was only Nathan and Duncan that wanted their fruit.
Winemaking at Arnot-Roberts borrows from both the old world and new. While each wine gets its own regime, the general technique is decidedly low-tech, and includes indigenous fermentations, little or no new wood, and whole-cluster inclusion for the red wines. Intervention is minimal - just a conscientious addition of SO2 prior to bottling. Chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel and then aged in neutral wood - with a nod to the masters, Dauvissat and Raveneau. Syrah is fermented 100% whole cluster with submerged cap and pumping over - a la Gentaz and Juge, and then aged in barrels coopered by Roberts himself. His father, in fact, was a cooper and taught him the craft.
Arnot-Roberts Wines have shown that wine from California not only can shine at the table but can also express the individuality of the sites they come from. It can age and develop in complexity from post-bottle youthfulness to the glories of a fully mature and harmonious bottle and everything in-between. These are some of today's measuring sticks for those anywhere striving to produce great, interesting wine.
Arnot-Roberts Trout Gulch Chardonnay 2019
96 points, Antonio Galloni - ”The 2019 Chardonnay Trout Gulch is fabulous. Palpable energy and tension drive a core of crushed rocks, lemon confit, mint and white flowers. Intensely saline, tense notes really bristle in this magnificent Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay. The 2019 is naturally very young, but it is stellar. Dried flowers, sage, mint and dried herbs linger.”
Arnot-Roberts Watson Ranch Chardonnay 2019
94 points, Antonio Galloni - ”The 2019 Chardonnay Watson Ranch is open-knit and seductive. Orchard fruit, chamomile, spice and dried herbs all meld together in a pliant Chardonnay that offers a striking mix of textural richness and energy. Watson Ranch is the southernmost vineyard in Napa Valley, a cool-climate pocket that yields a Chardonnay of real distinction..”
Arnot-Roberts Sonoma Coast Syrah 2017
93 points - Antonio Galloni - ”The 2017 Syrah (Sonoma Coast) is a gorgeous wine and a huge overachiever in its peer group. Bright red cherry and plum fruit, rose petal, lavender and spice abound in this super-expressive, pliant Syrah. The purity of the flavors is simply remarkable. Medium in body, gracious and beautifully perfumed, the 2017 is a rock-star wine.”
Arnot-Roberts Clary Ranch Syrah 2017
96 points, Antonio Galloni - ”The 2017 Syrah Clary Ranch is striking. Deep and resonant on the palate, the 2017 has so much to say. Some of the angular edges and intense savoriness the Clary Ranch can show have been soften by the intense heat of the year. Silky, fine tannins wrap around a core of dark cherry, plum, lavender, spice and pepper. A Syrah of power and structural intensity, the Clary Ranch is incredibly distinctive, and that is in a lineup in which many of the wines are exceptional. 2017 is a superb vintage for the Clary Ranch Syrah.”
Arnot-Roberts Montecillo Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
96 points, Antonio Galloni - ”A captivating wine, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Montecillo Vineyard shows just how magical this Sonoma site is. A whole range of floral, savory and earthy notes gives the Montecillo that trademark aromatic profile that is such a signature. Big tannins add energy as well as shape to a classically built Cabernet that delivers the goods, and then some. What a wine!”