Spotlight on Unusual California White Wine: Arbe Garbe White Blend 2012
My final entry in this spotlight was long delayed due to my trip to Portugal, but the wait was worth it. Arbe Garbe’s Friulian-style blend is one of the best of the “new Caifornia” whites on the market.
One might not associate the Russian River Valley with north eastern Italian white wine, but take a couple of Italian transplants, Letizia Pauletto and Enrico Bertoz, some brilliant farming and master blending, and you have yourself a serious California Friulian white. After moving to America in his 20’s, Bertoz worked a few harvests in California at Sine Qua Non as well as Phelps and Girard in Napa. He eventually managed to source the traditional Friulian grapes Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Ribolla Gialla, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Malvasia in the Russian River. Every year he blends some of these grapes together to make the final blend – a California sunshine influenced Friulian white that is utterly delicious. The texture is influenced by ageing in concrete tanks, which lend a wonderful roundness to the wine.
The wine is clearly influenced by an opulent California style, but it is very balanced and the opulent deliciousness does not feel obviously Californian or over the top. Flavours include pear, honey-suckle and bitter-melon. Pairings are versatile from pork to foul to seafood. Only about 600 cases are made each vintage.
This wine is emblematic of the potential for unusual white varieties in California when coupled with meticulous farming and a particular, peculiar passion. These wines are all about distinctiveness rather than classical ‘greatness’. These are the sorts of wines I seek out because they bring joy rather than intellect or arrogance. They are why wine matters.
$35 at K&L, San Francisco