2015 Arnot-Roberts "Watson Ranch" Napa Valley Chardonnay

SKU #1276492 94 points Vinous

 The 2015 Chardonnay Watson Ranch is powerful and richly textured, almost shockingly so for an Arnot-Roberts wine. Ample and voluptuous because of the low yields of the vintage, the 2015 exudes intensity in all of its dimensions. Apricot, hazelnut, vanillin and dried herbs build into the creamy, deeply expressive finish. All things considered, the Watson Ranch handled the challenging conditions of the growing season well. (AG)  (3/2017)

93 points John Gilman

 Watson Ranch is in the extreme southern end of Napa Valley, just above the San Pablo Bay and is one of the coolest vineyard sites in northern California. The soils here are a blend of clay and limestone, which is also extremely rare in Napa. The 2015 chardonnay from Arnot-Roberts from Watson Ranch is excellent, offering up a superb bouquet of pear, lemon, butter, chalky minerality, a touch of fleur de sel and a topnote of spring flowers. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, complex and beautifully balanced, with impressive focus and grip, zesty acids and a very long, balanced and classy finish. This is only 12.5 percent octane, but seems just a bit more complete than the 2013 version. Fine, fine juice. 2017-2030+. 93+  (8/2017)

K&L Notes

Arnot-Roberts describes this unique terroir: "The Watson Ranch vineyard is perched on a steep hillside overlooking the San Pablo Bay in the southernmost end of the Napa Valley. Exposed and austere, the Watson Ranch is a wind whipped site planted in 1993 by the talented grower Salvador Ramos on marine deposits over limestone. This soil type is extremely rare on the North Coast and lends itself perfectly to growing world class Chardonnay. This soil coupled with organic farming techniques and cool windy conditions give this parcel great potential to produce Chardonnay of singular character."

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Price: $39.99
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Staff Image By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/1/2018 | Send Email
This has been a perennial favorite of mine for quite some time. I have always found it to be a compelling California Chard that can stand toe-to-toe with the top-notch white Burgundy that still seems to remain the benchmark for high-quality Chardonnay. This fruit comes from a cool, exposed site in southeast Napa. The soils are quite unusual for the region, being highly calcareous, and it really shows in the wine’s intense minerality. Despite the wine’s very low 12.5% ABV there’s no lack of ripeness and texture. It’s actually quite a rich, dense wine (perhaps from the thick-skinned grapes this windy site produces). Golden orchard fruit, baked pear, dusty white flower and saline mineral tinges linger in the nutty lees-driven finish. Lots of savory umami elements here.

Additional Information:

Varietal:

Chardonnay

- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.
Sub-Region:

California

- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Napa Valley

- America's most famous wine region, which encompasses a varied geographical territory running about 20 miles long from the San Francisco Bay northward to the foot of Mount St. Helena. Napa's great diversity, both in terms of climate and terroir, has led to the creation of a number of smaller AVAs like Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Mount Veeder, among others. Cabernet and chardonnay still reign supreme, but just about everything under the sun is grown in Napa Valley, in quality levels ranging from $2 jug wine to $500 a bottle California cab.