arrow&branch winery- A Review And Tasting Notes
Is Arrow&Branch Winery worth the hype? With the proprietors breaking ground for a new hospitality center in Oak Knoll and receiving a permit to produce 30,000 gallons of juice per year we just had to find out for ourselves.
It was purchased by proprietors, Steve & Seanne Conturisi, in 2007.
Arrow&Branch wine focuses on Bordeaux-style wines, made from small, hand-crafted lots. Their aim is “to be the Napa Valley expression of the greatest wines of Bordeaux, an American Cheval Blanc.”
Arrow&Branch Winery is 5-acre estate vineyard, planted to Cabernet Franc, is located on a swath of land called Tulocay, named after the ancient Native Americans who once lived on that land.
Tulocay has a unique micro-climate, with warm days and cool evenings, and a morning fog that dissolves quicker than in neighboring areas.
Winemaker, Jennifer Williams, is firmly committed to organic and sustainable farming. Vineyard manager, Michael Wolf, employs meticulous canopy management to ensure the estate Cabernet Franc has every opportunity to ripen fully and express itself completely.
In addition to the estate vineyard, Arrow&Branch sources grapes from the following Napa vineyards: Beckstoffer Dr. Crane (St. Helena), Stagecoach (Atlas Peak), Lewelling (St. Helena) and Criscione (St. Helena), as well as other properties in the valley.
Steve and Seanne Contursi, have announced plans for a new winery on the 10-acre L’attitude Vineyard that was purchased in 2020.
The property is in the Oak Knoll AVA in Napa at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains.
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“Our building plans were delayed by the pandemic, but we are now moving full-speed ahead. This will be the new home of Arrow&Branch, including a hospitality area for visitors’ tastings. We have a permit to produce 30,000 gallons per year, the equivalent of about 12,500 cases of our wines.”
Where To Stay In St. Helena
Proprietor Steve Conturisi has been a professional numismatist since 1975. He has bought and sold over $1 billion worth of rare US coins, including the Brasher Doubloon.
The winery’s name, Arrow&Branch, as well as the design of its logo and wine labels are a nod to the realm of coin collecting.
Back in 1787, when the United States wasn’t quite united (the Constitution had yet to be fully ratified), the first gold coin was made for our young country.
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon (from the Spanish doblón, meaning double) coin was struck by silversmith Ephraim Brasher, George Washington’s New York City neighbor. (I wonder if Ephraim ever stopped by to ask Martha for a cup of sugar?).
The Brasher Doubloon has been described as America’s most significant coin, “underscoring the beginnings of our economic system“.
One side of the Brasher Doubloon features an eagle holding an olive branch in one talon and arrows in the other.
This enduring symbolism represents America’s desire for peace, but willingness to defend itself. The Arrow&Branch logo and wine bottle labels feature a stylized representation of the same arrows and branch, with the Latin words, TELUM (arrow) and STIPES (branch).
Even the Arrow&Branch wine corks are a salute to the history of coins. The coin are the 1776 Continental Dollar and the 1787 Fugio Cent, both said to be designed by Benjamin Franklin. The design on the coins is a rebus (clever, huh?) featuring a sun shining down on a sundial. Along with the Latin word, Fugio (to flee/fly), and the motto, Mind Your Business, the rebus is a pictorial representation of Time Flies, Mind Your Business.
Sidebar: Apparently, Franklin wasn’t a fan of putting portraits of people on coins, preferring reflective proverbs instead (he was, however, a big fan of wine).
Benjamin Franklin was featured (in full portrait) on the US half-dollar coin from 1948 to 1963. I wonder what Mr. Franklin would have to say about that??
Arrow&Branch- The Wines
Arrow&Branch Wine Pairing
I tasted these Arrow&Branch wines with my family, pairing them with our traditional family gathering meal of Omaha Steaks (I’m from Nebraska, there is no other kind of steak), sauce Béarnaise, potatoes au gratin, and roasted squash.
Arrow&Branch Sauvignon Blanc
Pale lemon-green color. Super inviting nose of grapefruit, lemon, grass, fresh bell pepper and basil. That basil note is like catnip to me — I can’t resist it.
Dry, with medium body and sparky acidity. Flavors of grapefruit, pear, and lemon with a mineral note throughout. Soft vanilla on the lingering finish. Absolutely lovely.
Arrow&Branch Red Wine “Bordeaux Blend”
A Cabernet Franc driven Bordeaux-style blend of 59% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petit Verdot. Sourced from Coombsville and Atlas Peak.
Medium garnet color. So many aromas in my glass, I don’t know where to start. Blackberry, black currant, vanilla, toast, charred wood, smoke, lavender.
Dry and acutely balanced. Soft, elegant and immediately approachable, with flavors of blackberry, black licorice and black currant. Super.
Arrow&Branch Cabernet Sauvignon “Black Label”
A blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot sourced from St. Helena and Napa Valley (I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen half a percent of something in a blend).
Deep garnet color. Nose of blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, graphite, cedar and vanilla. There’s a precise balance and elegance to this wine, with layered flavors of blueberry, blackberry, vanilla, violets and tobacco.
The tannins are firm, but approachable. I’d love to taste this again in a few years and see where it’s at. My guess is killer.
Arrow&Branch Dr. Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the historic Beckstoffer’s Dr. Crane vineyard in St. Helena. Aged for 20 months in 85% new French oak barrels.
Deep garnet color. This is one of those wines — you stick your nose into the glass and you know without even tasting, that it’s going to knock your socks off and across the room. The nose is a tidal wave of violets, blueberry, toast, vanilla, clove, cinnamon and cocoa.
Beautifully balanced, with flavors of violets, red currant, black cherries, cocoa, and vanilla that dance and linger, and then linger and dance. A home run!
Arrow & Branch Right Bank Blend 2018
Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
RP Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 96 points
The 2018 Right Bank Blend is a blend of 47% Cabernet Franc, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, aged for 20 months in French oak, 75% new. Deep garnet-purple in color, it rolls effortlessly, seductively out of the glass with gorgeous scents of lavender, lilacs and baked black cherries, leading to a core of kirsch, warm cassis and chocolate box plus a waft of bouquet garni. The full-bodied palate delivers bright, crunchy fruit, supported by fine-grained tannins and great tension, finishing long, lively and mineral laced.
JD Jeb Dunnuck 95 points
A beautiful, elegant, nuanced wine from Jennifer Williams, the 2018 Right Bank Blend (47% Cabernet Franc, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot) gives up a great nose of blackberries, black cherries, violets, cigar wrapper, and cedary herbs. It’s medium to full-bodied and pure silk on the palate, with remarkable balance.
Arrow&Branch Final Tasting Notes
All of these wines are graceful, elegant, nuanced, and teeming with finesse. Adeptly made, well structured, and finely balanced.