Swirl n' Spit
By Heather Irwin
Lowdown: Richard Arrowood isn't a rock star, movie star or a former dotcom investor looking for a hobby. He's not out to change the world through wine or make the next bottle of cult Cab that sells at auction for $500,000. Arrowood is a local guy who makes some of the best wines in the Sonoma Valley--pretty much the same thing he's been doing for himself and his neighbors for the last 25 years.
His winery, which sits at the southern end of the valley, just a few miles from the town of Sonoma, isn't especially ostentatious or flamboyant--just a simple sort of house set back from Highway 12 with a sign that's all but eclipsed by that of its nearest neighbor, Imagery Winery. But Arrowood has quietly become a favorite destination of wine drinkers looking for uniquely blended, well-mannered wines that are both regional and continental in their character--French and Californian at the same time. Trés jolie, dude.
Mouth value: Unlike many wineries that try to produce everything from Chardonnay to Syrah, Arrowood actually does most of them well. The '02 Alary Vineyards Chardonnay ($35) has a crisp fruitiness despite its big oakiness. A better food-pairing wine, however, is the '02 Pinot Blanc ($25), with its lighter, brighter character, or my favorite, the '03 Cote de Lune Blanc (at a very reasonable $20) that's a mix of Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier. It has a creamy, soft quality, with an intriguing mix of fruit that balances well. Arrowood Cabs are certainly nice, but the Syrahs, in particular the '01 Saralee's Vineyard ($39), are just plain fun to drink, blending in a small amount of Viognier to lighten the punch. Another great wine for the price is the '02 Cote de Lune Rouge ($28) that is a different blend of grapes each year. It's big and fat and a wonderful wine for fall.
Five-second snob: Most of Arrowood's wine is done in the Bordeaux style of France. This means that French varietals like Cabernet, Mourvedre, Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot are used or blended in a way that is more like wines found in the southern region of France.
Spot: Arrowood Winery, 14347 Sonoma Hwy., Glen Ellen. Tasting room open daily, 10am to 5pm. 707.935.2600.
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From the September 7-13, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.