Living in St. Helena in 2011 I had the opportunity to drink a wide range of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons. From Calistoga south through Carneros, from Howell Mountain west across the valley to Spring Mountain. And everything in between. Of all the newly-released wines that were opened that year there's only one that still stays with me, as if only last night I was on that patio with friends in front of a fire atop Diamond Mountain.
Curiously, that wine didn't come from the lionized Napa Valley, or from a sprawling grand estate. Instead, it hailed from a vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and from a small winery established by two young friends in Sonoma. It may break some people's views on the rules of California Cab hierarchy, but to me one thing is very clear:Arnot-Roberts Fellom Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon is truly one of the great wines in all of America.
Like the two most historic Cabernets from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Ridge's Monte Bello and Mount Eden's Estate Cabernet, Fellom Ranch falls into an ideal landing spot between the styles of Napa Valley's sun-kissed fruit and the gravel and more earthy characteristics common in Bordeaux. Elevation of 2,200 feet and cool winds racing through from the nearby Pacific ensure gradual ripening and serious freshness in the finished wine. The amalgamation of shale, loam, and limestone soils bring a diversity of terroir, and gives layers of complexity.
Fellom Ranch is powerful, but balanced with bright acids and a freshness that always makes it emptied quickly - the real litmus test for any great wine. Smoke, graphite, mint, and dried herbs dazzle each vintage, and the 30% use of whole cluster fermentation adds savory, yet bright qualities that make it so distinctive. Duncan and Nathan's fondness for the wines of Marcel Juge and Thierry Allemand of Cornas, to me, make themselves known in Fellom's dark and decidedly wild traits.
Like all the wines of Arnot-Roberts production here is very limited. Only 162 cases of Fellom Ranch were produced in 2014, and most have been allocated to top restaurants. I'm thrilled today to offer a wine that captures the most exciting elements of California Cabernet Sauvignon, and the adventurous spirit of the two friends who've brought this epic vineyard to the forefront.
2014 Arnot-Roberts Fellom Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
$99 per bottle.