Arrow and Branch Tasting 2016-2018 Vintages

Tasted August 1, 2020 by Cristal2000 with 63 views

Introduction

Had the awesome opportunity to review most AB wines from 2016-2018. The 2018's won't be released for another year or so, but they are definitely worth the wait. I think AB offers increasingly better and better wines, with Jennifer Williams doing a fabulous job. Their purity and freshness competes with just about anything in the Valley. Taking their price point into account, it's hard to find a better, more well rounded option that consistently makes high quality wines.

Flight 1 (1 note)

White
2018 Arrow & Branch Sauvignon Blanc Heritage Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
This is a stunner. Citrus fruit dominates on the nose, with notes of crushed stone, honeycomb and hints of yeast. A bit more fruit than the 2017 edition, but with all the vibrancy, tension and freshness. Very powerfully concentrated, but not at all heavy. Great acidity and balance rounded out by fabulous texture and layering. Super long finish. This is up there with the best Sauv Blancs in Napa.

Flight 2 (3 notes)

Red
2016 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
This was showing better than the last time I had it. Blackberries, white flowers, spice box, black cherries and hints of tobacco. Hits the palate with great energy. Pure black and blue fruit that's fresh and accessible. Tannins are very well integrated, with excellent layering. Shows some nice complexity with earthy and mineral driven notions. Satisfying finish.
Red
2017 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
Of the 2016-2018 Black Label's, this was a bit leaner and more earthy and mineral driven. It shows the same class and elegance as the rest of the AB lineup, with black cherries, dark chocolate to go along with tobacco and more herbal character. The fruit is clean and juicy, making for a tasty and easy drinking wine. It pairs nicely with more mineral driven elements that come out as you get to the finish.
Red
2018 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
This was my favorite of the black label wines by a very slight margin over the 2016. Gorgeous nose of cassis, blackcurrant, violets, and lavender. It's incredibly fresh and vibrant on the palate while still being full bodied and concentrated. The acid and tannin backbone is strong, but it's still fairly accessible. The blue and red fruit is very bright and pure. Excellent depth of flavor that gets rounded out with mineral driven notes. Long finish. Will compete well in its price range.

Flight 3 (3 notes)

Red
2016 Arrow & Branch USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
Splitting hairs on whether this wine or the 2018 edition is better. I've bought and drank a lot of this wine, because I absolutely love it. At times it has been shut down a bit, and then other times it is singing. So it can be a bit hard to read. This time it was firing on all cylinders and reflects my prior note of 9/14/19. Gorgeous, fresh, seamless and super refined, it's very floral and elegant. It does not lack for power, but it does so with amazing finesse. It's a wine you can drink everyday and not get tired of it. Super balanced and made to last.
Red
2017 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Franc Heritage Reserve Arrow & Branch Coombsville USA, California, Napa Valley, Coombsville
93 points
I had this right next to the 2016 and 2018 Right Bank Blend (Arrow & Branch on CT). It's another really high quality 2017 from AB. Nose has some of the floral elements of the 2016 that I really enjoyed, but also has some more savory character. Juicy, with lots of lovely red and blue fruit, this is a wine that's easy to drink. Not quite the same structure or completeness as the Right Bank's I had alongside, but nevertheless, really enjoyable. As with the other 2017's, nothing bitter or green, thankfully.
Red
2018 Arrow & Branch USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
Starting to sound like a broken record, but again, AB hit it out of the park with this wine. Showing rose petals, cassis, hints of blackberries and lovely floral aromatics. Beautifully bright, with fine grained tannins and great tension and verve. Red and blue pure fruit dance up and down your palate with impressive freshness and concentration. Finishes long and satisfying. Very sophisticated and elegant wine. Maybe underscoring this one here. For the release price of $135, this wine is very reasonable in Napa terms. 95+++

Flight 4 (3 notes)

Red
2016 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Dr. Crane Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Coombsville
96 points
I've had this wine a number of times now, with many of notes previously, so I won't spend too much more time on it. You can refer to my previous notes for a summary of specific thoughts. I will say it has started to come into its own and is more open for business than when I've had it a few times previously. On this day it was singing pretty well, showing really excellent levels of concentration and a lively energy than made it very compelling. Time will continue to benefit it. Fell between the 2017 and 2018, but really the gap between all three wasn't terribly wide. All excellent wines.
Red
2017 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Dr. Crane Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Coombsville
95 points
Really a fabulous effort. Wonderful nose of blueberry pie, black cherries, violets, and tobacco, with earthy and mineral driven notes. Shockingly powerful and concentrated for the vintage, this has elegance and refinement in spades. Pure and fresh, without a hint of the green or bitterness this vintage can sometimes give off. Lots of tension and built for a long life.
Red
2018 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Dr. Crane Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Coombsville
98 points
This is another super stunning wine in this AB lineup for 2018. Utterly gorgeous nose of black cherries, violets, licorice, hints of wet stone and graphite. Seamlessly fresh and elegant, this has great energy and a beautiful silky mouthfeel. Lots of mineral driven flavors to complement the signature Dr Crane opulent fruit, it's very well rounded, balanced and built for the long haul. Great acidity, which seems to be a hallmark of this vintage. Finishes long and pure. Seems likely to be the best Crane AB has made.

Flight 5 (2 notes)

Red
2017 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
94 points
Similar to my previous tasting note on 9/14/19. This is certainly one of the better 2017 offerings out there. As a matter of fact, I think all of the 2017 wines from AB are very compelling. Hard to put that vintage between 2016 and 2018, which are two of the finest years on record, but AB did a fabulous job with quality in a tough vintage.

This has more savory character on the nose than the 2018. Showing chargrill, blackberries, hints of cassis, tobacco and herbs. Nicely concentrated and medium to full bodied on the palate, this shows you can get some good concentration out of the vintage. A bit redder and not quite as deep as 2018, this will appeal a bit more to the older school wine folks out there. Shows great vibrancy with nothing overdone or bogged down. Lots of earthy and mineral driven flavors. Finish is long and very dry at the moment. This will likely get better with a few more years of age.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
2018 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
99 points
Flat out amazing and perhaps the best wine AB has ever produced. Cassis fruit, dark cherry, hints of char, herbs, tobacco and baking spices on a compelling nose. Shows the hallmark extremely fresh and vibrant style of AB wines with epic concentrated and pure fruit, to go along with a savory character that sets the complexity apart from other offerings. Full bodied, incredibly well layered and showing the "it" factor many of us enthusiasts are trying to find. Refined but prominent tannic structure will give this a long life. Excellent acidity and balance. Super long and satisfying finish. This is one you buy without any reservations.
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Closing

Many thanks to Josh Kretchmer and all the folks at Arrow and Branch for a great tasting experience.

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