April 30, 2021 - 3 days in Napa: Arkenstone, Memento Mori, Maxem, The French Laundry, Christopher Tynan, Kinsman, Harlan, Vice Versa, Accendo, Fairchild, Macdonald, and a truckload of others (Napa): Similar to my previous notes, with black cherry, cedar, spice, fresh mulch, and subtle minerality present in a medium-bodied chassis that does well to express a more controlled and classic version of the Crane site. I very much appreciate the ability of this wine to not flagrantly flaunt the fruit right in front of your face; there is precision to go along with the ripe (but not demonstratively bodacious) fruit. Hold until after 2025.
March 28, 2021 - This is pretty darn good.
September 18, 2020 - Decanted for 3 hours. Compared to other producers who vinify Dr. Crane fruit in a more modern, opulent style, this wine is a more elegant and restrained rendition of the Dr. Crane vineyard. The palate is characterized by a tight core of multilayered blue and black fruit, which is fairly concentrated, and the finish is long and mineral driven. Delicious now with some air but better in 2 - 4 years.
August 1, 2020 - Arrow and Branch Tasting 2016-2018 Vintages: 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.
April 18, 2020 - Decant for 2-3 hours.
November 9, 2019 - Double blind tasting of four Napa Cabs, all 2016 vintage. Entries were Vice Versa BTK BBS, Realm Absurd, Memento Mori LPV and Arrow & Branch Dr Crane. All wines were given approximately 3 hours of slow-ox, and all were served at cellar temperatures. There were six of us tasting.
I didn't take formal tasting notes, but figured I would post the results. The Vice Versa BTK BBS & Memento Mori LPV were in a dead heat for the #1 spot. The VV had the most #1 votes (3 to 2), but the MM was the most consistent, being ranked either #1 or #2 on every scorecard but one. Overall they produced the same number of points. For what it's worth, I had the MM slightly higher this time around. It was absolutely bursting with flavor and showed amazingly well. The VV would ideally get some more time in bottle, but showed even more potential.
Of the other two wines, the Absurd was clearly #3 and the AB was #4. If this wasn't blind, I would have expected the Absurd to show a bit better. It was a bit primary, more red fruited than other wines (and previous vintages) and didn't have as amazing a flavor profile at the top two wines here. While all the wines showed extremely well, the AB was clearly sucking wind trying to catch up. It's going to need some time in bottle and even then, while great, still may have been a bit out of its league with these heavy hitters.
September 15, 2019 - Arrow & Branch (with Cristal2000): Black cherry liqueur, smooth cedar, wet mulch, and some black rock. Classy, finessed, and super sophisticated, the execution here is medium and agreeable, with no hard edges to be found. A faint breath of alcohol appears on the back, pulling the fruit slightly away from the palate on the finish.
A much improved showing from when I last had this in June. Time is always a friend to this wine under the A&B label. Ideally, hold for 4-5+ years. 95-96+ points.
September 14, 2019 - Arrow & Branch Tasting - with CSIMM1161 (AB House): As CSIMM mentioned, this showed quite a bit better than last time we had it, and no doubt this is an age worthy style that's best put in the back for the cellar for a while.
Blackberries, blueberry compote, embers, black licorice, tobacco and violets on the nose. On the palate, this has a rock solid structure, grainy powerful tannins and amazing layering. Black and blue fruit are accompanied by loamy earth and deep mineral driven flavors. Super complex and very long on the finish. This has a lot of upside from here - may end up in the 97-98 range.
June 8, 2019 - 2016 Dr. Crane comparative blind taste-off (Saint Helena - Vice Versa cave): The black cherry liqueur thing was jumping off crazy on this wine at first pull, but then it dropped into a more earthy, almost grainy animal, with some crunchy rock and soil notes encircling the dark fruit. Some old school characteristics rose up as well, with tobacco, currant, and grandma’s closet. I first thought this was Elysian based on its push of black cherry flavors, but then I became more centered-in on the possibility of Arrow & Branch or the Alpha Omega because of its less contemporary expression of the site. I settled on this being the Alpha Omega, and of course was wrong!
In the end, this was my #7 of the 9 wines. A fine wine to be sure, but it fell behind some of the other workhorses perhaps in part due to stylistic preferences, though I felt this lacked some refinement in its current state. Unlike some others that were open for business, this Arrow & Branch will benefit from 3-5 years in bottle.
June 8, 2019 - 2016 Dr Crane Blind Wine Comparison (Vice Versa Cave): #7 of 9 on my card and #7 of 9 overall. This was a more restrained version of the vineyard. It was well nuanced and had building power, but in some places seemed to lack the freshness, purity and gorgeous fruit quality of the higher rated wines here.
Blackberries, menthol, dank earth, cigar box and violets showing on the nose. A small stewed character that detracted. Nicely structured palate with a big tannic frame. Blue fruit intermixing with lots of loamy soil notions. Solid mouthfeel and a 30 sec finish. A very different representation of Dr Crane vs some of the more modern wines in the tasting.