splashI have long admired Arrowood, the vintner who turned heads at Chateau St. Jean with his chardonnays in his early days, circa 1977.

At his 50th anniversary retrospective, it was a rare treat to taste through 54 bottlings, a pool of wine ushering us through his three-tier career.

We began with the wines he crafted at Chateau St. Jean. Then we tasted through his Arrowood Vineyards & Winery creations. We followed those up with bottlings from his boutique winery, Amapola Creek.

The wines were impressive for many reasons.

1)      The fact that they showed so well through five decades reveals Arrowood is gifted at making balanced wine. What brought this home to me was how balanced his 1997 cabernet was. This was a ripe, sun-kissed vintage and everyone predicted the wines wouldn’t age well. Yet the Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Speciale was a knockout.

2)      The line-up included a broad range of wines – chardonnay, zinfandel, cabernet, syrah, malbec and even late harvest zinfandel. To master so many varietals is no easy feat, but Arrowood is obviously well versed in multitasking.

3)      Finally, many of the bottlings showed great depth and complexity.

I’ve tasted Arrowood’s wines blind for years, and I can remember often being unduly impressed. The standouts included an Arrowood cabernet, an Arrowood white riesling, and a syrah from Amapola Creek. When I continue to notice standouts over time, I can’t help but become a full-fledged fan.

Kudos to Arrowood, one of Wine Country’s finest.