Arnot-Roberts Gamay 2019
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2019 Gamay Noir El Dorado is another hugely appealing wine in this lineup. Sweet red cherry, plum, rose petal and spice give the 2019 striking inner sweetness and perfume. In this vintage, the El Dorado is a bit lighter in feel than it has been in the past. I imagine that is partly a reflection of the year and also the result of a reduction in carbonic maceration in the winemaking.
Arnot-Roberts was Founded in 2001 in Healdsburg, CA by childhood friends, Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts. The focus of this two person operation is on small lot, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, as well as several other varieties uncommon in Northern Californian vineyards. Sites are carefully chosen and are generally on the cooler end of the spectrum for the planted varieties. Collaboration with dedicated and passionate growers is paramount in the farming of these sites.
Duncan and Nathan grew up around winemaking in the Napa Valley. Nathan is a second generation cooper and personally builds all of the French oak barrels that are utilized in the ageing of all Arnot-Roberts wines. Over the years Duncan has worked making wine in the Napa Valley in wineries like, Caymus, Groth, Acacia, Kongsgaard.
Total production of Arnot-Roberts is around 2,000 cases per year with thirteen individual wines. Both primary and secondary fermentations are carried out utilizing native yeast. For the Syrahs whole clusters are retained during primary fermentation before being basket pressed to French oak barrels. For the Cabernets, hillside sites of intense character are chosen, small amounts of whole clusters are retained during primary fermentation and the wines are aged for two years in varying amounts of new French oak cooperage, selected and toasted to meld with the vintage at hand. White wines are whole cluster pressed and stainless steel fermented with native yeast, then aged in neutral French oak barrels.
As home to California’s highest altitude vineyards, El Dorado is also one of its oldest wine growing regions. When gold miners settled here in the late 1800s, many also planted vineyards and made wine to quench its local demand.
By 1870, El Dorado County, as part of the greater Sierra Foothills growing area, was among the largest wine producers in the state, behind only Los Angeles and Sonoma counties. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking and grape growing was totally abandoned. But some of these vines still exist today and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.
El Dorado has a diverse terrain with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 3,500 feet, creating countless mesoclimates for its vineyards. This diversity allows success with a wide range of grapes including whites like Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as for reds, Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo, Barbera and especially, Zinfandel.
Soils tend to be fine-grained volcanic rock, shale and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nights are cool and the area typically gets ample precipitation in the form or rain or snow in the winter.
Delightfully playful, but also capable of impressive gravitas, Gamay is responsible for juicy, berry-packed wines. From Beaujolais, Gamay generally has three classes: Beaujolais Nouveau, a decidedly young, fruit-driven wine, Beaujolais Villages and Cru Beaujolais. The Villages and Crus are highly ranked grape growing communes whose wines are capable of improving with age whereas Nouveau, released two months after harvest, is intended for immediate consumption. Somm Secret—The ten different Crus have their own distinct personalities—Fleurie is delicate and floral, Côte de Brouilly is concentrated and elegant and Morgon is structured and age-worthy.