'Convincing West Coast riposte to Côte Rôtie.'
Jancis Robinson MW
For me, this is one of California's most exciting wineries.'
Jamie Goode, Wine Anorak
Arnot-Roberts Wines is a joint project of schoolhood friends, Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts. Since founding their winery in 2001, the duo has been one of the most progressive and revolutionary producers on the California landscape. Together with a small group of fellow trailblazers, they have led the way to help re-define the paradigm of what California wine can be and taste like.
Que Syrah Vineyard is a true gem on the Sonoma Coast. The vines were planted above the town of Occidental in 1994 by Al and Virginia Rago, about three miles from the Pacific at 850’ elevation. This is the oldest planting of Syrah on the Sonoma Coast, and credit goes to both the Ragos and to Ehren Jordan for being true mavericks in cool-climate farming of this grape variety in California. With no reference point at that time for Syrah planted in such a cold area, they named the vineyard as a play on the Spanish phrase “que sera, sera” that translates to “whatever will be, will be.”
Beginning in 2013, we became the lucky stewards of this site and now have complete control over the farming with the care of Greg Adams and his crew. Our first efforts from the vineyard have exceeded our high expectations, and we are raising the bar every year by replacing weak and dead vines and updating the trellis system in 2018.
The vines at Que Syrah enjoy a long and cool growing season and are naturally self-regulated, finding their balance of canopy to fruit nicely on this forested coastal ridgetop. The wines we have made to date are electrifying in their spicy, aromatic personality and fill the glass with a mix of brilliant fuchsia color and vibrant briary fruit. Que Syrah has already shown strong potential in our cellar and, like the great wines of the Northern Rhone Valley, we look forward to unlocking its riches for years to come as bottles mature in the cellar.
Arnot Roberts is a collaboration between Nathan Roberts and Duncan Arnot Meyers. This is one of California’s most exciting wineries. They make just 2700 cases a year from a small winery in a warehouse in Healdsburg. Nathan’s father founded a cooperage in Napa (he helped Demptos open a Napa branch in the late 1970s), and his grandmother is Margrit Biever Mondavi, Robert’s widow. Nathan is a trained cooper and he carried on working in his dad's company until 2008. Duncan's father was a Napa attorney. They made their first wine together back in 2001 – a solitary barrel. The next year – their first proper vintage in 2002 – they made 4 barrels, and then in subsequent years grew production gradually to its current level. It’s still just a two-person operation and the wines are sold through a mailing list, three times a year. Owning land isn't an option for them, so they buy grapes from a network of growers, and they seem to have a keen eye for ideal vineyard sources for the styles of wines they make. The wines are restrained and elegant, without any of the over-ripeness that many California wines display. They seem to possess a beautiful textural quality, with attractive fruit but also lovely balance. They don't go to wood with sugar. When ferment is whole berry or whole bunch there's usually some sugar liberated at pressing, and so they go to tank after pressing before barrel. Regarding stems, Nathan says, 'The stem conversation is often confusing and there is so much funny information out there. It's not a good thing to get dogmatic about: it works well with some vineyards but not with others.' 'It's an exciting time in California to make wine,' says Duncan. 'We're still in our infancy in understanding what works well. Everything needs to come together: weather, soil, intention and farming. We are so young in California. I am still learning every year: it is fantastically energizing.'
ANTONIO GALLONI MW - VINOUS
A huge, powerful wine, the 2016 Syrah Que Syrah Vineyard marries massive fruit density and unctuousness with the cool-climate, savoury qualities that are so typical of the Arnot-Roberts Syrahs. Game, smoke, chocolate, tobacco, licorice and incense all give the wine its exotic, wild personality.