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.
2013 Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last week’s Premiere Napa Valley (PNV), the fundraising auction for the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), brought in a record $6.05 million, just surpassing last year’s previous record of $5.9 million. Napa Valley wineries donated five-, 10-, or 20-case lots that were then exclusively auctioned off to the trade. The barrel tasting and auction at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena capped off a bacchanalian week in the Napa Valley just as the vines were beginning to spring back to life for the 2015 vintage. The average wholesale price per bottle sold was an astounding $286.