2018 Arnot-Roberts, Gamay Noir, El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills.
The 2018 true Gamay Noir from Arnot-Roberts is bright and juicy with its granite soils providing a nice mineral character and the natural acidity makes for a nice balance in this medium bodied and smooth wine that caresses the palate, but still has a tart tanginess and snappy personality with loads of dark berry fruits, a touch of spice and a bite of dried herbs. This is a very interesting version and an expressive Gamay, though I must admit to loving their lighter and more delicately nuanced Trousseau, a wine that quite honestly made this stellar winery famous, that said I am of a fan of everything they do, including this Sierra Foothills grown Gamay and its easy drinking pleasures. Arnot-Roberts was founded in back in 2001 by childhood friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, both Napa natives committed to crafting small lots of transparent wines with a focus on special terroir driven vineyards, especially old and dry-farmed sites and they broke through by not being afraid of exploring the lighter style and unique varietals, like the Trousseau mentioned above, but also with a Gruner Veltliner and even a fantastic Rosé of Touriga Nacional, as well as doing old world inspired versions of Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and in particular Chardonnay, with their version of Trout Gulch Vineyard from the south Santa Cruz Mountains being absolutely spectacular. The grapes, sourced from two vineyard sites, Barsotti and Witters vineyards, both near Placerville are brought into the winery and made in separate lots, with the whole bunches put into steel fermentation tanks and sealed up for several days to start carbonic maceration, traditional in many Cru Beaujolais, allowing the berries to start the fermentation process from the inside out, then aged in a combination of tank and used French oak, with a large Foudre being employed, similar to Foillard’s famous Corcelette bottling.

Duncan and Nathan, first got into Gamay with their collaboration with star sommelier Raj Parr, but have really now have made this wine their own and folding it into their studied and prized collection of wines. The Gamay certainly was influenced by Steve Edmonds, of Edmonds St. John, who was the first to really express this Beaujolais varietal in any meaningful way in California, and who found it here in the Sierra Foothills and was one of the first successful micro urban wineries in the state. Arnot-Roberts’ mission is to seek out vineyards (throughout) Northern California that offer historic quality or unique flavors and now their set includes incredible sites in Napa Valley, the Sonoma Coast, the Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as the Santa Rita Hills, a vineyard in Clearlake and the Sierra Foothills as expressed here in their deep garnet and ruby hued Gamay. All of their single-vineyard series wines sell out pretty fast on their direct to the consumer mailing list, but the regional set of wines can be found at some restaurants and specialized wine merchants, where I luckily found their latest releases of Gamay, Trousseau and the noted Rosé, a dry and exciting pink wine that has always been a secret favorite of mine! This Gamay that unfolds with bramble berry, plum, cherry and cranberry fruits is fun, quaffable and expressive, best at cool temps, it gains from the chill and allows for a more refreshing experience and sharper in detail. This high elevation Gamay is a wine that is appealing and should be on the list for this grape’s ever increasing fans in California and in Oregon, it joins a star studded list of winemakers, like at Pax, Joyce, Jolie-Laide, also from this region and vines, Brick House, one of the first to make a true Gamay, Hundred Suns and others, that have found love and passion in this once maligned varietal, that was in fact once banned from the top vineyards in Burgundy!
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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