Duncan Arnot Meyers grew up around wine. His father's best friend was Bernard Portet of Clos du Val, and much of Duncan's youth was spent in Napa Valley. He was mentored by John Kongsgaard and worked side by side with Pax Malhe, Northern California's cult syrah specialist, until June 2008.
The "Roberts" in Arnot-Roberts, is Nathan Lee Roberts, second generation master cooper, whose grandmother is Margot Biever Mondavi; Nathan's mother Annie Roberts was executive chef at Robert Mondavi Winery.
Roberts and Meyers made their first wine together in 2001, and they soon founded Arnot-Roberts. Their goal is to produce natural wines that express the uniqueness and beauty of their origin. "We are California kids. We love Northern California. Our intent is to express the potential of Northern California," says Meyers.
Their focus is restrained, elegant wines from cool maritime-influenced vineyards. Their spirit of understatement is beautifully captured by simple botanical illustration of the label. That these wines are heralded as the embodiment of the New California is more than a little ironic, since they powerfully evoke the beautifully balanced Old California classics from the golden era before big flavour, big alcohol and big points. What goes around comes around.
If the epicenter of the Sonoma Coast scene is the old dairy country of the Petaluma Wind Gap (not far from Bodega Bay, where Hitchcock filmed The Birds), Meyers and Roberts are relentless explorers, sourcing fruit from great old vineyards wherever they find them - chardonnay and pinot from the Santa Cruz Mountains, gamay from the Sierra Foothills, touriga nacional (for rose) from the Sierra Foothills. They push the envelope stylistically too, with a magnificently old school white field blend from the legendary Compagni Portis vineyard and a ribolla gialla raised in amphora.
The wines are rare and hard to get. In the words of Antonio Galloni, "I was completely blown away by the wines of Arnot Roberts... Readers who can get on the Arnot Roberts list should not hesitate. As someone who has the privilege to taste the benchmark wines of Italy, France, California and elsewhere on a regular basis, there is no doubt in my mind Arnot-Roberts is one of the world's great wineries".