Arrowood Vineyards

Arrowood
Me and My Arrowood

This eponymous winery was founded by Richard and Alis Arrowood, the culmination of what up until then had been twenty-one years of winemaking.

Born in San Francisco and raised in Santa Rosa, Arrowood started his winemaking career in 1965 at Korbel Champagne Cellars, after earning a degree in organic chemistry at California State University, Sacramento and completing graduate work in enology at California State University, Fresno.

From Korbel he moved on, first to United Vintners, then Sonoma Vineyards, and in 1974 was chosen by the founders of Chateau St. Jean Winery to become their first employee and winemaker.

Arrowood Winery opened in 1986 while he was still at Chateau St. Jean, and for the first three years Alis ran the winery as Richard fulfilled his obligations at Chateau St. Jean. In April 1990 Richard joined Alis to devote himself full-time to Arrowood Winery.

Arrowood is located just ouside of Glen Ellen, California, in Sonoma County, and sources all of its grapes from the county’s diverse viticultural areas, such as Russian River Valley, Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys, and Sonoma-Carneros. Sonoma has some of the most varied and complex terroir in the world, with soils that include marine deposits, clay, loam, and volcanic rock.This unusual variety allows a skilled winemaker to match the grape variety he is working with to the most appropiate soil.

Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

Sourced primarily from organic or sustainably-farmed vineyards on the western slopes of the Mayacama Mountain Range, this deep, dense Cabernet opens on the nose with vanilla, earth, and toast. The flavor is intense but wonderfully balanced, featuring plum, cassis, currant, and a hint of unsweetened cocoa, all supported by nicely integrated tannins. The wine is certainly drinkable now in its youthful exuberance, and should cellar well for ten more years, also. Pair this excellent Cabernet with Beef Tenderloin with Bordelaise Sauce, Steak Diane, or Pork Chops with Onion Marmalade. If you can afford it, buy it by the case.

Sonoma County Chardonnay

This Chardonnay is another balanced and harmonious wine, with an elegant structure and body. The color is quite pale, but the mouthfeel is pleasingly unctious. The taste is crisp and fresh, with notes of apple, peach, and just a hint of sweetness. There is plenty of oak, too, from nine months in French barrels; sadly, this is becoming ever less common. Serve this with Seared Salmon with Balsamic Glaze, Mussels with Garlic and White Wine, or Paprika Chicken.

https://www.arrowoodvineyards.com/

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Simi Wines from Alexander Valley

Although Napa Valley is considered by many to be California’s preeminent winemaking region, Sonoma County just to the north offers many pleasures as well, particularly the wines from Alexander Valley, which is one of my personal favorites.

The Simi brothers immigrated from Tuscany, Italy, to California during the Gold Rush of 1876. They soon discovered the rolling hills of Sonoma County near San Francisco, which reminded them of home. In 1881 they established their winemaking operations in Healdsburg, where they completed construction of Simi’s first stone cellar in 1890. The winery has been in continuous operation ever since, giving it the distinction as California’s oldest.

Early success led to doubling the size of the winery by 1904, and it continued to grow until the disaster of Prohibition in 1920. Forbidden to sell their wine, Simi continued to make and store wine for the 15 years that Prohibition lasted. (They were able to sell “sacramental” wine during this time, which provided a much-needed income to barely keep the winery in operation.)
With Repeal in 1933, Simi was ready with a large supply of perfectly cellared wine to sell, and with their survival we are able to enjoy their products today.

Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

If you are a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, the Simi Alexander Valley is an excellent choice for everyday drinking (the $26 list price is often discounted).
Simi sources the grapes for this wine from the nearly 600 acres they own devoted to red wine production. The diverse soils of these vineyards are a result of eons of geologic activity, including a catastrophic landslide which changed the course of the Russian River.

The color is the usual dense, dark red purple. The nose offers blackberry, cassis, and plum. It serves up ripe black cherry and blackberry on the tongue. This Cabernet is medium-bodied, with moderate tannins and a touch of vanilla and oak for structure. The wine shows good legs, and the 13.5% alcohol level is right in line with current winemaking style.

Enjoy this Cabernet Sauvignon with grilled skirt steak sandwiches on rye with horseradish mayonnaise, roast prime rib au poivre, and grilled Tuscan pork rib roast with rosemary coating and red bell pepper relish.

Simi Sonoma County Chardonnay 2007

This very pale gold Chardonnay features nicely balanced notes of lemon and citrus paired with a crisp, lively acidity. The nose is ripe melon and slight white peach. The fruit flavors are supported by an unassuming oak floor.
Pair this creamy smooth wine with richer foods such as baked salmon filled with mascarpone spinach, baked cod with tarragon butter, or pork sauté with caramelized pears.

https://www.simiwinery.com/wines#

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Byington Alliage Cabernet and Field of Dreams Moscato

Sweet Dreams Are
Made of These

In this post, I’m reviewing two distinctly different wines: Byington Alliage Cabernet and Field of Dreams Moscato

Byington Alliage Cabernet 2002

This Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon comes from an Iowa farmboy who amassed enough wealth as a northern California industrialist that he was able to realize his dream of becoming a winery owner.

Along with the primary grape, it features 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Syrah, both of which enhance its structure. There is also a very slight sweetness reminiscent of cassis and raisins, as well as a hint of licorice. The lingering and pronounced tannins will appeal to some, while others will want to hold this wine in the cellar for three or four years to allow the tannins to soften. The inky density and good legs suggest such patience will be rewarded. Let this wine breathe for 30 minutes or so before pouring. Then, serve with mildly seasoned pork or chicken.

https://byington.wine/products/2014-byington-cabernet-sauvignon-alliage

Field of Dreams Moscato 2006

Although made in the Italian Asti style, this Moscato actually comes from Australia’s Barossa Valley. It is one of the few varietals that, when turned to wine, tastes as fresh as the grape from which it is made.

Yes, it is sweet, but not cloying. And although there are tiny bubbles in the glass, there is no fizz. If you like Coke or Pepsi with dinner, you could pair it with the entree, but I’d save it for dessert, especially fresh fruit or delicate cookies.

With an alcohol content of only 8%, it would even be welcome at weekend brunch with waffles or pancakes, instead of the more traditional champagne.

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