Young but Beautifully Linear Napa Chardonnay

Today’s Story: Arnot-Roberts

I previously wrote about Arnot-Roberts when I reviewed their 2016 Que Syrah Vineyard and 2018 North Coast Trousseau. I enjoyed both wines so much, I wanted to try a (young) Chardonnay today.

Arnot-Roberts is a boutique winery established in 2001 by Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, two childhood friends who grew up together in Napa Valley. After college, Nathan started working with his father as a cooper of oak wine barrels while Duncan pursued winemaking throughout Napa and Sonoma counties. Arnot-Roberts began with a single barrel of wine the duo produced in their basement and over time grew through the purchase of fruit from renowned vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, El Dorado, and Amador counties as well as the Santa Cruz Mountains. When selecting vineyards, Arnot-Roberts makes sure the farmers are both “passionate and conscientious” because their goal is to produce small quantities of honest, terroir-driven single-vineyard wines which truly express their unique place. The winemaking style is a mix of Old World and New World, with use of indigenous fermentation, little or no new oak, and often whole cluster with the reds. The Chardonnays, one of which I am reviewing today, ferment in stainless steel and age in neutral oak.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Watson Ranch Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 12% ABV

The 2018 Watson Ranch Chardonnay is transparent medium golden yellow in color with greenish hues. This needs 1-2 hours of air in its youth, and I drank it over the following 2 hours or so. Once opened, the nose delivers aromas of golden apple, crisp yellow pear, lemon zest, honeysuckle, jasmine, light smoke, dry crushed stone, and saline mineral. Still tighter than the nose and requiring the full bottle to put together, the palate showcases notes of lemon, ripe yellow apple, stone fruit, mild dry green herbs, white wildflower, limestone, and vibrant minerality. There’s also a delicate earthiness to the wine that I think needs more bottle age to fully reveal itself. This is medium-bodied with vibrant and mouthwatering high acidity into a well-rounded and long finish. Best with another 3-5 years in bottle, but pretty hard to resist right now. 45 barrels produced.

Price: $40. I think this is a fantastic value Chardonnay, though it won’t be the wine for a lot of people. (There’s no butter here.) The Old World winemaking and boutique mentality are palpable in this bottle, pairing off nicely with the beautiful quality of fruit and precision in the final product.

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