• Montebello Ridge Magnificence:  Arnot-Roberts Fellom Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

    Montebello Ridge Magnificence: Arnot-Roberts Fellom Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

    Today, we turn to my prime personal destination for American Cabernet Sauvignon, the Santa Cruz Mountains and the top new release from the rockstar duo of Duncan Arnot and Nathan Lee Roberts.

    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 young wines opened there's only one that still stays with me, as if it was only last night I was with friends in front of a fire atop Diamond Mountain.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2015 & 2016 Arnot-Roberts Fellom Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Also featured is an Arnot-Roberts Discovery 6-Pack featuring a stellar range of Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Ribolla Gialla, Touriga Nacional rosé, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

    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's left bank. 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 savage traits. *(And to see more of their reverence for those aforementioned icons I implore you to take close look at their fabulous Syrahs also listed below).

    Like all the wines of Arnot-Roberts, production here is very limited.  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.

    For those who find themselves sticking with France primarily, I highly recommend you see the ultimate execution in crafting California wines of place deeply-rooted in French influence.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Hommage á Raymond Trollat Encore:  2017 Pax Sonoma-Hillsides Syrah

    Hommage á Raymond Trollat Encore: 2017 Pax Sonoma-Hillsides Syrah

    Syrah shows many different sides in California, from San Diego north through Mendocino. But, one thing is understood here by all: There's no producer in the state whose passion for the variety surpasses that of Pax Mahle.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Pax Sonoma-Hillsides Syrah for $48 per bottle, with special pricing on the Pax Experience mixed 4-pack.


    For many years Pax has worked with a wide range of Syrah vineyards in California bottled under the Pax label, as well as Wind Gap. He's become obsessed with tapping vineyards on the extreme to prove the grape can flourish in conditions many thought were far too marginal. His fascination and love of the variety can be traced back to the traditionalists of the Northern Rhone Valley, the birthplace of Syrah. Beginning in 2016 Pax chose to pay tribute to one of the legends of the old guard, Raymond Trollat of Saint Joseph.

    As one would imagine, Sonoma-Hillsides is again 100% whole cluster fermented. Sourcing comes from three vineyards Pax feels capture the essence of cooler climate hillside California Syrah. Castelli-Knight Ranch and Walker Vine Hill from Russian River Valley, and the iconic Griffin's Lair vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Through Pax's illustrious career it's sites like these that have best expressed the fresh and vibrant personality that Syrah is capable of. His visits with Trollat and other vignerons in the Rhone have been a huge influence on his viticulture and vinification practices.

    At 12.9% the Sonoma-Hillsides cuvée exemplifies everything that's so thrilling about the more savory, spicy, and mineral-inflected qualities of Syrah. Trollat, whose vines are now farmed by Gonon, personified the soul and authenticity found in the best of Saint-Joseph. Pax, too, stands as a benchmark for what other producers in California aspire to craft, having served as a mentor to much of the younger generation of winemakers.  He has a long history with the variety here, but it's this hommage to Raymond Trollat that hit the sweet spot with me more so than any other bottling to date. This is not to be missed!
    Posted by Alexander Rosen