Arnot-Roberts North Coast Syrah 2010

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Arnot-Roberts is one of my favourite California wineries. They hold a dear place in my heart because of their relentless embrace of experimentation and their bold acceptance of Sonoma’s liminal sites – a characteristic shared by two of my other favourite U.S. winemakers: Pax Mahle of Wind Gap and Barnaby Tuttle of Teutonic. This is not surprising given that Duncan Arnot Meyers worked with both Kongsgaard and Pax for several years.

Syrah loves coolness. It loses all its nuance in overly warm sites unless you are talking about some of the great ancient vines of the Barossa in Australia. These cool sites offer a range of expressions for California Syrah that defy what was once a monolithic approach of huge jammy wines in mimicry of the great central coast producers Sine Qua Non, Alban and Saxum.

One of the most famous of these cool sites is the fantastic Griffin’s Lair site – but compared to the “North Coast”, Griffin’s Lair is balmy. North Coast, like Cleary Ranch, is one of the coolest sites at which Syrah is being made in California. As such, it offers an expression unlike any other you will have had from the state: hugely expressive and floral aromatics along with structured acid and tannin supporting extremely bright, focused fruit on the palate. This is not a ‘light’ wine, even though it clocks in at 11.9% ABV. Rather, the classic Syrah notes of brine and olive, game and violets show themselves in clear delineation. There are also subtle stem and leaf aromas from likely whole cluster fermentation. It is the clarity and freshness that make this stand out and also exemplify the Arnot-Roberts philosophy.

Given that Arnot-Roberts has only been around since 2001, I am always excited to see what else they have in store. I highly recommend seeking out these wines or joining the mailing list. You can find them at retail in SF at stores such as Arlequin. If you are interested in more information I highly recommend a San Francisco Chronicle wrote an excellent profile on Arnot-Roberts in January this year.

$35 at Garagiste


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