Sebastian Schwander in Zurich profiles the wines

Sebastian Schwander profiles Arrow&Branch:

Beckstoffer and elegance? The impossible becomes possible in Arrow & Branch

September 8, 2016

Short visit in Zurich by Steve and Seanne Contursi. Invited by the exclusive importer  they presented their current Arrow&Branch collection in magnums. Enriched with two ultra rare auction lot, an elegant (!) Beckstoffer and an urgent buy recommendation. The secret status will soon be stored.

Arrow&Branch belongs to the youngest generation of wine in the Valley. And is regarded as (still) undiscovered secret. Northeast of Napa Steve and Seanne Contursi fulfilled their dream of owning a winery and bought the chic property of Tony Soter, who was then direction Oregon goodbye.

The area is known as Tulocay, which is part of the AVA Coombsville. The name of the estate Arrow&Branch (to German: arrow branch) refers to the professional world of Steve, who specialized in numismatics.

It started with the year 2008. Together with her former Winemaker, Helen Keplinger launched it their “Red Wine.” A Cabernet Franc Bland, complemented with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Later, the Cabernet Sauvignon “Black Label” and the Single Vineyard Cabernet came from the legendary Dr. Crane Hill to.The grapes come, along with their own Estate Vineyard, from a dozen different sources.

After the departure of Helen Keplinger to Bryant Family talented Jennifer Williams (ex Araujo and Spottswoode) is responsible for the wines since 2011th.

The tasting of practically all Arrow and Branch wines in magnums (!) We enjoyed in Bü’s Restaurant in Zurich in the presence of the owners, Steve and Seanne Contursi. Organized was the great occasion of the Swiss Arrow&Branch exclusive importer



2014 Arrow&Branch Sauvignon Blanc

Intense, massive Sauvignon Blanc. Raspberries, pineapple, mild cinnamon notes and honey. Content full on the palate and great length. Fine, subtle oak spice.

17.5 / 20 tr – 2020


Arrow&Branch Red Wine

The “Red Wine” is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, supplemented depending on the year with different proportions of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The grapes come from our own vineyard (oldest Cabernet Franc sticks are soon at age 30) plus purchased batches. The expansion takes place during 20 months in French oak barrels (65% new).

First year: 2008

Production: about 3000 bottles

Price: CHF 120-140

2008 Arrow&Branch Red Wine, Magnum

Bulky, dense bouquet. Empire, opulent cassis and plum game. Vanilla, toast and smoke. Fine minerality. A voluminous palate, strong oak presence. Currently to opulent, but such things can mature. First year, as a result of Frost’s was only 600 bottles.

18/20 2020-30
2010 Arrow&Branch Red Wine, Magnum

Defensive, creamy bouquet. Spicy Cabernet Franc notes, some pepper, pine branches, cedar and rosemary. Among a barrage of ripe, dark berries. Cedar and lavender to the harmonious bouquet. Powerful opener. Content Fully equipped intensively and with great length.

 18 + / 20 2020-30
2011 Arrow & Branch Red Wine, Magnum

Medium weight, blue- and scharzbeeriges bouquet. Currently some wood superficially. Lives more from chubby Merlot as the Cabernet Franc. Palate harmonious, moderate and early ready to drink. Light glutamate notes in the finish.

 16.5 / 20 tr – 2025
2012 Arrow & Branch Red Wine, Magnum

Sweet, ripe bouquet. Spice, cloves, pepper encased by massive black berries. Gross on the palate, full-bodied, good substance and reserves. Polyphonic for vintage. Disclosed much potential. Complex, multi-layered wine. Thrilling in its kind, and away from the Napa Main trams.Worth to follow up.

18 + / 20 2025-40
2014 Arrow&Branch Red Wine, Magnum

Open, primarily fruity nose. Spices, cassis, blackberries. Cabernet Franc is clearly in the structure. Medium-heavy, woven tight, elegant palate. Earlier ready to drink as 2012. That is great! Am looking forward to the 2013er. The visit then at the November Arrivage .

18.5 + / 20 2020-35

Arrow&Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label

2012 Black Label (80 Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Petit Verdot) was launched with grapes from Lewelling and Stagecoach Vineyard. The expansion of this wine takes place for 20 months in 75% new barrels.

First year: 2012

Production: about 3000 bottles

Price: CHF 100-120 / 75cl

2011 Arrow&Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label, Magnum

Classic Napa Cab nose. Dark berry, licorice blackberries. Law broadly structured. Beautifully rounded finish. Already very accessible moderate development potential. Unofficial first vintage, which was not sold.

17/20 tr – 2030
2012 Arrow&Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label, Magnum

Low key, noble bouquet. Dark berry, candy, pop corn. Magnificent wood accompaniment. Fruit lives and the acid blends already very beautiful. Intense, powerful finish.Beautiful symbiosis between Valley Fruit and Pritchard Hill structure.

18 + / 20 2020-35
2013 Arrow&Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label, Magnum

Sweet, dunkelbeeriges bouquet. Earthy flavors, peat, caramel, nut, and cedars. Compact and finely structured palate. Great balance and length. A young, explosive concentrate, with fantastic opportunities for development. A (still) undiscovered gem. Buy!

19/20 2020-40
2014 Arrow&Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label, Magnum

Open, straightforward Cab bouquet. , Mint, candy and candle wax blackberries. Ample, opulent body. Wild, vigorous and unapproachable as a barrel sample.

18 + / 20 2025-45


Arrow&Branch Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

The newest wine and is the flagship company of Arrow&Branch is the pure Cabernet Sauvignon with grapes from Andy Beckstoffer’s Dr. Crane Vineyard.

First year: 2012

Production: about 3500 bottles

Price: CHF 160-180 / 75cl

2012 Arrow&Branch Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Magnum

Full, voluminous, dunkelbeeriges bouquet. Smoke, tar, rosemary, tobacco and leather. Massive, opulent body, woven tightly. Fine velvet with lots of power and a very long, slightly alcoholic finish.

18 + / 20 2020-40
2013 Arrow&Branch Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Magnum

Open, accessible bouquet. Cassis, blackberry, tobacco, mint and tar dominate. Very little development. Strong stature. Silk fine. Even more intensively than 2012. A wine with depth and unexpected elegance. Enjoyment for tomorrow.

You know my ambivalence about Beckstoffer wines. Too often, the winery owner view compulsion outrageously expensive grapes (from 30 dollars per kilogram) on sale of this famous location to still create an additional luxury Cuvee. To thus exactly meet the Gusto by Robert Parker, reach high points and a ready market. This wine here is an example that it works differently. Beckstoffer and elegance – that’s actually! The Spirit of Jennifer Williams proves it. Compliment and respect!

19 + / 20 2025-40
2014 Arrow&Branch Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Magnum

Restrained in the bouquet. Fine notes of tobacco, cedar, mint, mushroom. Massive fruit on the palate. Fine interwoven, slightly alcoholic. Needs a lot of time. If in 2018 launched.

18 + / 20 2025-50


2012 Arrow&Branch Dr. Crane Vineyard Premiere Napa Valley Auction 18 Lot 23

Mild, restrained bouquet. Extremely classy and graceful nose. Wort, sage, toast accompany wonderfully defensively. Magnificently interwoven body. Sealing, elegant and impressive smoothness. The slightly dry tannins on the finish do not disturb, but confirm the potential that lies in this phenomenal luxury Cuvee.

19/20 2020-35
2013 Arrow&Branch Red Wine Premiere Napa Valley Auction 19 Lot 49

Strong, spicy nose. Multi complex bouquet. Lime, malt, tobacco, coffee, toast. The fruit comes in the palate with tremendous pressure from the deep. Fantastic melting.Intense, dense structure without being luxurious. Silk fine finish. Dreamcloth shortly before the rise in the wine Olympus.

 19.5 + / 20 2020-35

Wine Spectator reviews the 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

92 points

Deftly balanced, well-proportioned and beautifully crafted, delivering a juicy beam of snappy blackberry, currant, gravelly earth and smoky, toasty oak. Most impressive on the finish, where the flavors glide along against fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2030. 249 cases made.

James Suckling reviews the 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

James Suckling reviews the 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

May 5, 2016

2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

92 points

A solid and beautiful red with focus and texture. Full body, refined and polished tannins. Dusty mouthfeel. Attractive dark fruits and chocolate powder. Drink or hold.

James Suckling reviews the 2013 Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon

May 5, 2016

2013 Napa Valley Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon

94 points

A wine with focus and precision. Plenty of black currant, chocolate and walnut aromas and flavors. Full body, firm and silky tannins and a fresh finish. Better in 2018 but already impressive to taste.

James Suckling reviews the 2013 Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Cabernet Sauvignon

May 5, 2016

2013 Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

97 points

Wow. Such character and style to this Dr. Crane with lavender, rosemary, flower and sage as well as dark blueberry. Yet always reserved and focused. Full-bodied, ultra-refined and a long finish. A triumph. Drink or hold.

Arrow&Branch’s lot, “Fanciful,” at 2016 Premiere Napa Valley

Arrow&Branch’s 2016 Premiere Napa Valley auction lot was “Fanciful,” from the 2014 vintage; it is a stand-alone Cabernet Sauvignon with dark complexity, power and elegance. Winemaker Jennifer Williams described the wine as “crafted from the most balanced and intensely flavored lots from the Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard and Oakville Ranch. Luscious and rich upon entry, the Cabernet Sauvignon is approachable and age-worthy with brilliant minerality and complexity, indicative of the Dr. Crane Vineyard, undoubtedly one of the best vineyards in St. Helena. The palate reflects what the aromas promise to deliver, with notes of classic berries, mocha and cassis, giving a beautiful expression of the unique terroir and volcanic soil of Oakville Ranch, which is organically farmed.”

It sold for $38,000.

The 2016 Premiere Napa Valley resulted in a $5 million fundraising total for the Napa Valley Vintners, the third highest amount raised in the event’s 20 year history.

Arrow&Branch included in Kelli White’s book Napa Valley Then & Now

Here is how Kelli White describes us in her book, Napa Valley Then & Now, published in the fall of 2015:

Arrow & Branch is the latest in a series of ventures based on a particularly compelling patch of Cabernet Franc. This exceptional vineyard has inspired many a vintner, first gaining renown in the 1990s as the elegant, herbaceous Stonefly Cabernet Franc. In 2002, it was purchased by Tony Soter (founder of Etude) and rechristened Little Creek. Five years later, when Soter left Napa to pursue winemaking in Oregon, he sold the vineyard to Steve Contursi, one of the country’s pre-eminent coin collectors, and his wife Seanne Contursi. They named their new venture Arrow & Branch, after the items clutched in the talons of the eagle depicted on the back of most American coins.

In addition to coins, the Contursis also collect wine, and they profess a special fondness for Bordeaux. As such, they built their new life as vintners around the dream of creating an American Cheval Blanc. Aspiring to this model, the Contursis and their winemaking team have managed to craft one of the very best Cabernet Franc-based blends in Napa Valley.


Located in north Coombsville, the vineyard had been in the hands of the Payne family for over a century until Lee Burns bought the property in 1991. That year he planted three acres of Cabernet Franc—vines that are still going strong today. In 2002, Tony Soter added a half-acre patch of Malbec to the vineyard. The Contursis played with this fruit for five years before grafting it over to Cabernet Franc in 2012.

Also in 2012, the Contursis purchased the adjacent property, planning another 1.5 acres of Cabernet Franc. The soils of the vineyard are deep and gravelly, with lots of loam—well-draining and slightly acidic. Coombsville is notoriously cooler than the rest of Napa Valley, and its prolonged growing season is ideal for Cabernet Franc, whose delicate aromatics can easily be ripened out of existence in too warm a location. The vineyard is farmed organically by veteran vineyard manager Mike Wolf.

In addition to their estate grapes, Arrow & Branch purchases Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot from various sources within the Valley. The core of their Sauvignon Blanc hails from a vineyard within Soda Canyon, which they supplement with a shifting supply of Sauvignon Musque, Sauvignon Blanc’s more tropical cousin. The Merlot comes from Stagecoach vineyard and the Petit Verdot comes from their Coombsville neighbor Sodaro. Supplemental Cabernet Sauvignon is occasionally purchased from the Stagecoach vineyard as well as an undisclosed site in St. Helena. In 2012, the Contursis secured a steady allocation of Cabernet Sauvignon from the historic Beckstoffer Dr. Crane vineyard, which they plan to bottle independently.

Wines & Winemaking

Arrow & Branch’s very first vintage, 2008, was ravaged by the extreme spring frosts that destroyed over 80 per cent of that year’s crop. They had intended to produce a varietal Cabernet Franc, but were left with too little to work with. As such, they boosted production slightly by blending in the estate Malbec along with some Petit Verdot acquired from Sodaro. The result was a whopping 69 cases, but the wine produced by this emergency measure stuck. Thereafter, Arrow & Branch produced a Bordeaux blend based on the estate Cabernet Franc, but supplemented with purchased blending grapes.

The winery produced its first varietal Cabernet Sauvignon in 2010, sourced predominantly from the Meteor and Stagecoach vineyards. With the 2012 vintage, they added a third red, the Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Cabernet Sauvignon. These three reds are all inoculated and fermented in stainless steel tanks before aging in barrel for 19 months. The Cabernet Franc blends sees 50-60 per cent new French oak, while the Cabernets see 65-75 per cent. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

In 2010, when they were preparing to release their debut 2008 blend, the Contursis wanted some Sauvignon Blanc to serve at the release party, so the winemaking team produced a small amount. Enjoying the results, the Contursis insisted that the Sauvignon Blanc officially join the Arrow & Branch line-up. Neither grassy nor overtly tropical, this balanced, serious Sauvignon Blanc is vinified and aged in a mixture of stainless steel barrels and neutral and new French oak.

Rising star Helen Keplinger was the original winemaker for Arrow & Branch, but Keplinger passed the torch to Jennifer Williams (ex Spottswoode) when she left to take over the winemaking at Bryant in April 2011.

Wine Spectator reviews the 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

92 points

This Pauillac-like version offers perfumed cassis, floral, dark berry and mocha flavors that are rich and concentrated, deep and persistent, ending with an impressive push of dense berry notes. Drink now through 2028. 270 cases made.

Potential of 2013 vintage provokes record bids at winter trade auction

Excitement generated by the outstanding wines produced from the 2013 crush led to record-setting results at Premiere Napa Valley last weekend.

The winter auction — exclusively for restaurateurs, retailers and wholesalers — staged by the local 500-plus-member trade association, Napa Valley Vintners, netted $6 million — up by $100,000 over last year when the take nearly doubled the tally from 2012.


Arrow&Branch Selected as a Favorite Wine at the PNV event

Premiere Napa Valley is always a first glimpse into what the future of a vintage has in store for us. The events this past week confirmed what we’ve been hearing from our vintner and winemaker friends for a while … that 2013 is another outstanding vintage across the board for the Napa Valley. The wines in general were intense, complex and delicious.