Striking Gold in El Dorado: Arnot-Roberts Gamay from the Sierra Foothills

Posted by Richard Schnitzlein on

Drinking a wine from Arnot-Roberts is like finding gold without doing the hard work, because Duncan and Nathan have already done it for you.

My first exciting experience with Arnot-Roberts was in early 2013. At the time their wines weren't sold in Massachusetts and the only way to get them was to be on their mailing list and to be offered a small allocation. Luckily I managed to get on that list and the Rosé of Touriga Nacional was the first wine I got my greedy hands on. A consistent favorite, I buy a dozen or so every year along with their Syrahs, Trousseau, and Gamay. Now, I am happy to report, their wines are available in MA, albeit in fairly small quantities.

Arnot-Roberts, founded in Healdsburg in 2001 by childhood friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, began with one barrel of wine made in their basement. Yes, the winery started small but grew slowly by sourcing grapes from some of the most remarkable vineyards in California. Just west of Sacramento two of those vineyards, Barsotti and Witters in El Dorado, are planted with Gamay (the grape used in red Beaujolais). These vineyards are perched at around 3000’ above sea level in the Sierra Foothills. For us in New England that's like climbing to the summit of Mount Monadnock!

The grapes are harvested and fermented separately, then blended together to make the final wine. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks that are sealed up for several days. This is to create an anaerobic environment for carbonic maceration which allows the berries to retain their spicy fruitiness and infuse a freshness and an energetic lift. The wine is aged in a mix of neutral oak foudre and stainless steel. And if you spy some sediment in the bottle it is because the wines are unfined and unfiltered.

Ripe and wild strawberries co-mingle with rustic red plums, a bit of pepper, spice, flowery and bit of earthy underbrush. The palate is graceful with subtle tannic finish. The wine is beginning to open up, but a decantation might be in order. Drink this for another 5+ years, if you can wait that long!


Arnot-Roberts California Email Offer Gamay

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