Frederic Koeppel considers savory white wines and writes:
The pale gold Arrow&Branch Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Napa Valley, performs that gratifying task of balancing the utmost in a delicate, elegant character with a vivacious, appealing personality. Aromas of pea shoot, heather, cucumber and lime peel are infused with damp limestone and flint, roasted lemon and lemon balm and a hint of raspberry leaf. The wine is bright and crisp, dense but paradoxically ethereal, and it opens to touches of almond skin and pear skin, waxy white flowers and a hint of the wildly exotic and tropical. All of these exuberant elements are handily restrained by brisk acidity and the mild spicy/woodsy aura of a touch of French oak. 14.1 percent alcohol. A truly beautiful sauvignon blanc, made by Jennifer Williams, for consuming through 2018 or ’19. Exceptional. http://biggerthanyourhead.net/2016/10/14/ten-savory-white-wines/
How do you make a small fortune in the wine business? Start with a large one!
This joke has circled the wine industry for decades. However, in the case of Arrow&Branch Winery it is literally all about money. You see Steve Contursi is a world renowned numismatist, having bought and sold more than $2 billion worth of US rare coins. He made international headlines in 2004 when he unveiled a true national treasure. The Neil/Carter 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar is believed by experts to be the first ever silver dollar struck by the US, representing a moment of profound economic independence. The coin was on loan to the ANA Money Museum in Colorado by Contursi from 2004 to 2010. In 2010, Contursi sold the coin for $7.85 million, the highest price ever paid for a single coin. But the buck does not stop there…
The name Arrow&Branch pays homage to Contursi’s life long profession. Grab a coin out of your pocket and flip it over. Notice the eagle holding an olive branch and arrows in its talons? The olive branch speaks to the US as a nation of peace, juxtaposed with the arrows signifying we are a nation capable of protecting ourselves when necessary. Arrow&Branch represents Steve and Seanne Contursi’s love for our nation as much as their love for wine.
Steve and Seanne Contursi hold a special love for Bordeaux! In particular they hold Cabernet Franc driven Bordeaux such as Chateau Cheval Blanc in the highest esteem. So in 2007, when they decided they wanted to use some of their fortune on buying a winery they had two criteria: 1) to be in the premiere wine region of Napa Valley; 2) to have organically farmed estate vineyards that would craft beautiful Cabernet Franc as well as access to additional vineyards of exceptional quality to round out their portfolio. To our benefit their dream has come true!
I was sent four media samples of Arrow&Branch wines. After tasting these wines I felt like I had won the jackpot! Up front I will say each of these wines are elegant, sophisticated, beautifully balanced, well-structured and dazzling wines crafted by Jennifer Williams. She is seen as a “rising star” winemaker; I would argue that her star is already risen, the world just needs to take notice!
2015 Arrow&Branch Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, USA: opens with a bright nose of grape fruit, stone fruit, a dazzling hint of wet rock, and soft spice notes indicative of the small percentage that spent some time in French oak; the palate offered racy minerality, wrapping my mouth in mouth-watering acidity, fresh and clean with a long, vibrant finish; SRP $35
2013 Arrow&Branch Cabernet Sauvignon “Black Label,” Napa Valley, USA: Crafted of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot from grapes cultivated in St. Helena and Napa; ripe and juicy nose of black cherry, plums, black raspberries, and pomegranate sing harmoniously with notes of licorice, chocolate, black tea, dried violets, and graphite; wildly complex nose with an equally complex palate, lush mouth-feel of silk, refined and textural, beautifully balanced with deliberate but not over-powering tannins and round acidity; hard to imagine this wine is only going to get better with proper cellaring; SRP $100
2013 Arrow&Branch Red Wine, Napa Valley, USA: Crafted from 59% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot from grapes cultivated in Coombsville & Atlas Peak; on the nose this wine is beautifully balanced between fruit notes of black cherry, black berries, plums, and cranberries, with warm earth notes of licorice, savory herbal notes, worn cedar cigar box, and flirt of vanilla; those aromas follow through in a palate that has depth, texture, and complexity; this wine delivers on every level, rich mouth-feel yet balanced tannins and acidity, creating a long, finish and pleasing mouth-feel; SRP $125
2012 Arrow&Branch Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA: Crafted of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes cultivated in St. Helena; a strikingly seductive wine from the first smell, fruit notes of cherry, blackberries, blueberries, and plums are wrapped in warm earth notes of spice, dried savory herbs, soft floral notes, tobacco, and my favorite quintessential Rutherford dust; it moves across the palate like a sultry tango with fruit and earth notes interwoven into each other, a wine this good is meant to be aged and shared; how can so much complexity and refinement come from one grape and one vineyard; (rhetorical of course because it’s Beckstoffer); elegantly balanced, perfectly structured, time will only magnify its beauty; if you can splurge, do so…immediately; SRP $175
These are truly splurge worthy wines; Napa Valley wines you want to have in your cellar! To purchase these wines visit the Arrow&Branch online store or click hereto locate near you.
My Song Selection: These wines are sophisticated and elegant but they are also approachable, fun to drink. I selected this song because Count Basie is a genius, sophisticated, but also fun. He makes it look so easy you forget it’s amazing, like Arrow&Branch wines.
Get your own bottle of Arrow&Branch wine and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!
For Jennifer Williams, great sauvignon blanc depends on the hunt. “I’m always looking for small, flavorful, juicy berries,” explained Williams, the winemaker of Napa Valley’s Arrow&Branch. Williams is behind our wine-of-the-week winner — the Arrow&Branch, 2015 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc at $35. What makes the Arrow&Branch a standout is its great minerality coupled with its tasty stone fruit. With its bright acidity and a citrus finish, it’s well-crafted and refreshing.
“There’s a lot of sauvignon blanc planted out there, so it’s about selecting the best vineyard sources,” Williams said. “I like to find sauvignon blanc growing on distinct soils, in different climates and conditions.” Williams said what the uninitiated don’t know is that in Napa and Sonoma one clone of sauvignon blanc has been widely planted. A clone is a cutting or bud of a mother plant, genetically identical of the first. “When you mix the clones together,” she said, “you get a very interesting wine.”
Williams said she’s a good fit for producing sauvignon blanc because she fancies the varietal. “I enjoy drinking them,” she said. “And I’ve been making sauvignon blanc for many years from all over the north coast. I really enjoy sauvignon blancs which are layered. I also like them to be fresh and minerally, steely with a nice stone fruit component.”
Williams, 40, was born in San Diego, and she graduated from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo in 1999. “I discovered winemaking in college and I came to Napa Valley for an internship,” she said. “That first year, I was too young to buy the wine I was working to help create. But what struck me was the mixture of agriculture and community which wine brings together.”
Williams soon realized she liked putting her sense of smell and taste to work. “I love playing around in the kitchen, growing food, and I think that exercising the senses in those pursuits helps make me a good winemaker,” she said. Williams said the wine she’s shooting for is a fresh Loire style white. “We really want that minerally component.”
Williams said her strength is that she started in the vineyards and knows how to pamper the vines. “That’s my educational background,” she said. “I managed vineyards. I spend lots of time walking vineyards, falling in love with their soils, rethinking their trellises — really getting to know them.”
In the October 5 Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Michele Anna Jordan pairs the wine with Sole.
Our Wine of the Week, Arrow&Branch 2015 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($35), is a classy beauty with an exuberant but not overwhelming quality.
At its core, the wine is cool and bright. Around this minerally foundation, swirls of subtle fruit, orange zest and sweet spices add an electrifying quality. If you pay attention, you’ll notice hints of fresh and dried ginger, suggestions of wild flower honey and a bouquet of citrus blossoms. The wine has appealing depth and a long finish that mirrors the wine’s flavors.
The wine is excellent with such shellfish as shrimp, rock shrimp, scallops and lobster, as its fullness on the palate and suggestion of sweetness mirror these qualities in the fish.
It pairs well with Ruby grapefruit — as in a salad of grapefruit, avocado and crab — and is a good companion to grilled chicken with pineapple salsa. Pork tenderloin in a mustard glaze or topped with grapefruit vinaigrette is another good match. Green vegetables work well with the wine, too, especially green beans, zucchini, celery and kale.
Because the wine is a bit of a splurge, it warrants a special dish alongside. Today’s recipe is not at all difficult, but it takes a bit more preparation than you might want to do on a weeknight. You can make the celery confit and the grape sauce beforehand and reheat them, or you can make the dish on a leisurely weekend when you can enjoy the time in the kitchen without hurrying. You will be rewarded with a heavenly match.
Petrale Sole with Celery Confit, White Grapes and Fried Capers
3/4 cup white grapes, preferably seedless, sliced into thin rounds
2 tablespoons capers, preferably salted, rinsed
4-6 ounce boneless Petrale sole fillets
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons clarified butter
1 tablespoon butter
12-16 celery leaves from the inner stalks
Put the celery, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and several pinches of salt in a small saucepan set over very low heat and pour the olive oil over it. If the oil does not cover the celery completely, add enough to cover it. Cook very slowly until the celery is tender but not mushy, about 12 minutes. Use tongs to remove and discard the thyme, bay leaf and garlic. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the celery to a bowl and set aside. Reserve the oil.
Pour the vinegar and lemon juice into a small saucepan set over low heat, season with salt and pepper, and add the reserved oil. Add the grapes, remove from the heat, and set aside.
Set a small sauté pan over medium high heat, add the capers, and fry until they open like little flower buds, and just begin to turn crisp. Transfer to small bowl.
Set the fish fillets on a clean work surface and season all over with salt and pepper, and dust with flour. Heat the clarified butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and cook the fillets for 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon butter and, when it is melted, spoon it over the fish as it cooks for 1 minute more. Turn the fillets and cook until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Divide the celery confit between four large, warmed soup plates, and top with a fillet. Spoon sauce over each fillet, garnish with capers and celery leaves, and enjoy right away.
The 2013 Red Wine was judged 3rd in a tasting of new Cabernet Sauvignon releases in the October 2016 California Grapevine:
Very Highly Recommended: Medium dark ruby; attractive, forward, intense, spicy, cassis, blackberry, and dark cherry fruit aroma with earthy notes and hints of mocha and vanilla; full body; big, rich, deep, extracted, cedary, firmly structured, red and black fruit flavors with a note of sweet oak; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Currently showing rich, accessible fruit, though still deserving another three to five more years of bottle aging.
Arrow&Branch was founded by Steve and Seanne Contursi. Both have enjoyed Bordeaux wines since the 1980’s and have collected wine from a number of premium Bordeaux based, primarily Right Bank producers. Living in Laguna Beach (Southern California), they soon gravitated towards the Napa Valley and in 2007 purchased a small property in what is now Coombsville (east of the city of Napa). This property was noted winemaker and founder of Etude Winery, Tony Soter’s former Napa residence. He sold this property to move back to the Willamette Valley in Oregon to focus on Soter Vineyards. This property was already planted to three acres of Cabernet Franc at the time (the original Cabernet Franc planting on site was from 1991) with fruit from this vineyard being used in Soter’s “Little Creek” Cabernet Franc. Since the purchase, an additional 2 acres of Cabernet Franc has been planted using the cuttings from the existing vineyard.
Steve has been interested and intrigued by coins since a young boy. He channeled his passion for coins into a business – having become a professional numismatist in 1975. Today he owns Rare Coin Wholesalers and RCW Financial helping collectors find and purchase museum quality rare coins. One of his most interesting and high profile sales was in 2010 when he sold a special 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar for a world record price at the time of $7.85 million dollars.
The name Arrow&Branch directly ties into his love of numismatics and is a tribute to coins minted in the USA. It also represents the symbol on the back of many US minted coins with an eagle holding both an olive branch and arrows in its talons.
Helen Keplinger was hired as their first winemaker – they made wine in 2008 (merely 65 cases due to a very rare frost that damaged many vineyards in Napa County including theirs) but did not release this. 2009 was their first commercial release. Helen later left to go to Bryant Family and suggested accomplished winemaker Jennifer Williams who was winemaker at Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery at the time to take her place. Jennifer has been the winemaker at Arrow & Branch since the 2011 vintage. While at Spottswoode, Jennifer was partly responsible for grower relations – her vineyard expertise and vineyard contacts cultivated while at Spottswoode have have certainly been helpful for securing additional premium vineyard sources beyond their own Cabernet Franc estate vineyard.
While the focus is on premium red wines – they do produce a Sauvignon Blanc each year. The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is a seamless wine throughout from the bouquet onto the palate and shows no harsh or overtly acidic edges. The bouquet reveals both lemon and lime nuances and floral notes while framed subtly with tropical undertones. On the palate this wine drinks lively – it is fresh and vibrant with just the perfect balance of acidity and fruit.
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “Black Label” was sourced in equal proportions from the historic Lewelling Vineyards in St. Helena and Stagecoach (the Pritchard Hill part of this vineyard). Arrow&Branch has worked with Stagecoach fruit since their earliest vintages. Like their other red wines, this wine often spends between 20 and 22 months in oak and another year in bottle before being released. The bouquet is elegant with aromas of currant, red cherry, cinnamon and toasted cedar. Ample but not overbearing somewhat dusty tannins anchor a satisfying finish.
The 2012 “Red Wine” (Bordeaux styled blend) features a majority of their estate Cabernet Franc blended with varying percentages of other sourced red varietals from locations within the Napa Valley. While starting with excellent fruit, this wine always gives Jennifer a chance to showcase her blending talents based on each particular vintage. The bouquet reveals deeper notes of darker fruit – blackberry, with chocolate undertones along with some floral notes (lavender). As it opens it becomes more floral with some aromatics of raspberries also showing. Rounded on the entry, this wine delivers plenty of flavor and acidity. Smooth integrated tannins linger along with a sweetness of mocha.
The Dr. Crane Vineyard is one of Beckstoffer Vineyards six Heritage Vineyards – some of the most historically significant and premium quality vineyards under their Napa management. This particular vineyard was originally planted in 1858 by Napa pioneer Dr. George Belden Crane. Jennifer introduced them to this vineyard; today they are only one of seven producers making wine from this special slice of St. Helena. The 2012 vintage shows dark ruby in the glass – with a very identifiable bouquet. Aromatically it shows a neat mix of dustiness and smoke framed by elegant fruit. Also slightly floral. As the wine breathes this element of ‘dust’ continues to show. The mid palate structure is impressive – showing a noticeable density of fruit. This wine drinks very well young.
Their bottles are a direct nod to the First Growth properties in Bordeaux. They source the same green Bordeaux bottles these chateau’s use for their own red wines. This is one of only several Napa producers we have seen sourcing these particular bottles for their red wines. And each of the bottles representing each of their wines are creatively packaged; with an homage to American statesman, Benjamin Franklin – one of his quotes is printed on every cork. And their recognition of Franklin is a more subtle nod to his role with France as our country’s first American Minister (the equivalent of Ambassador at the time) and to his love of wine. Each label is unique with multiple references to coin heritage in the United States. Even their capsules have a numismatic theme.
Most of the wine is sold direct via a mailing list although they have some select distribution in California, Georgia, and North Carolina. Locally several retails outlets carry some of their wines including 750 Wines and ACME Wine Shop in St. Helena as well as at the K. Laz Collection in Yountville. They are members of the Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Valley Grapegrowers and the Coombsville Vintners and Growers. For more information and to join their mailing list – visit: www.arrowandbranch.com.
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 Napawine.ch 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 Napawine.ch.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.