2019 Bow & Arrow, Gamay, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This 2019 version of Bow & Arrow’s Gamay is one of my favorite vintage’s to date with tons of energy and stemmy crunch, it shows off deep black fruits, hints of violets and zesty orange rind along with racy acidity, mineral notes and is led on the medium bodied palate by blackberry, tangy sour cherry and plum fruits that are accented by hints of loam, leather and fennel. Bow & Arrow and winemaker Scott Frank go their own way, focusing on cool climate natural wines made from more humble grapes and sites, including this Gamay, and they use a different template to explore this different, simpler side of the Willamette Valley. Instead of Burgundy, Frank adds, he pays homage to the refreshing and decidedly working class wines of France’s Loire Valley and the wines show a rustic edgy quality and are incredibly value priced confiding the small batch and handcrafted effort that goes into them. Frank says, even after one of Oregon’s great contemporary Pinot Noir and Chardonnay masters, John Paul of Cameron Winery, drafted him to be his unproven assistant winemaker in 2007, the thought of bottling Loire Valley varieties, like Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne and Sauvignon Blanc was never far away, and his interpretation of Gamay is based on his Loire experiences, in particular in areas like Touraine and Cour-Cheverny.
The Bow & Arrow Gamay is faithfully produced using old school traditional methods with carbonic whole cluster permutations and native yeasts with exceptionally low SO2, or without sulfur added in the process which includes cement vats and used very old barrels. This wine is without pretense and even carries its rawness with a certain pride, with the 2019 having a touch of funk, stemmy bite and brett, though not enough to be off putting, it just adds to the complexity and soulfulness of the whole experience. The Hughes Vineyard, Located in the South Salem hills, an area Frank feels holds some of the best untapped potential in the valley set on Jory and Nekia soils south of Salem, with Ed and Kathy Hughes farming this 27 year old site that provides Bow & Arrow with Gamay for this Willamette Valley bottling and some Pinot Noir for a single vineyard offering. These vines at an elevation of near 700 feet, the winery notes, are own rooted and have been dry farmed using sustainable methods from the beginning. The aspect here is slightly Northernly facing which translates in a light, with more cool climate natural acidity and a savory expression of the varietal, which this 2019 shows with exceptional clarity and with an earthy effect, making for old world style wines. In recent years I have grow fond of the Bow & Arrow Air Guitar, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc, like seen in Anjou and the Rhinestones, a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which I think is the signature wine of the winery, both of which I highly recommend, along with this 100% Gamay.
($23 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive