6.9 Acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Mayacamas
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate has called Arnot-Roberts "one of the most exciting young wineries" in the world. Justifiably so. While many credit the brilliant winemaking of Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Roberts for the winery's critical ascent, Duncan and Nathan are quick to cast the spotlight on the vineyards from which they draw their fruit -- none more so than the 7 acres of world-class mountain Cabernet Sauvignon on a steep hillside called "Clajeux."
Our first encounter with the Clajeux Vineyard took place four years ago, while seated on barstools in Nathan and Duncan's makeshift winery set a couple hundred yards behind the coffee shop in Forestville. The tasting table lineup was filled with standouts, but it would be the last two bottles of the day -- two single-vineyard mountain Cabernets -- that stole the afternoon thunder. The first came from John Bugay's property at the end of Crystal Spring Road. The second came from Peter Boyd's Clajeux.
Before we left Forestville, Nathan called John Bugay, setting up our first visit to that mountain oasis at the end of Crystal Springs Road. But securing a meeting with the Canadian owner of Clajeux would prove far more elusive. In the end, it would take dozens of phone calls and nearly four years to break Peter Boyd down. But, finally, we wound our way up Petrified Forest Road, high up into the jagged hills of the Mayacamas to get our first look at what Duncan had said is "the most intriguing mountain Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard" on the coast.
We were less than a half-hour out of Calistoga when we pulled into the property, yet it felt like we were hundreds of miles away from the bustle of Highway 29. As we drove up to the farmhouse, we saw deer. A wild turkey strutted across the dirt road unperturbed. With wild flowers all around, woodpeckers pounded out a staccato beat on the old oak trees. But it wouldn't be until we saw the sun-dappled hillside covered in vines -- seemingly hand-carved into volcanic rock -- that we began to truly understand the phenomenal briary concentration, broad shoulders, and muscled black fruit core of Clajeux Cabernet Sauvignon.
The entire property is just under 100 acres, home to deer, fox, bobcat, opossum, rabbit, and at least one wild turkey. Yet, Boyd's Cabernet vineyard, set in a sun-dappled cutout, bracketed by forest, is a mere 6.9 acres. There are two distinct blocks. The upper parcel is planted to Clone 337, providing the Cabernet's terrific minerality. The steep terraces of the lower block are planted to Clone 7, offering all the plush crushed blackberry core.
Since 2004, Boyd was quick to point out, Robert Parker and Stephen Tanzer have been lobbing on a steady stream of 92-94pt rave reviews on the Arnot-Roberts Clajeux Vineyard Cabernets. Finally, in 2007, Boyd decided to make his own -- but not before he commissioned Duncan Meyers to do the winemaking.
In 2008, Duncan Meyers turned out one of the richest, most compact, age-worthy Cabernets ever to come off Clajeux. In a growing season that began with that spring frost that severely trimmed yields in the Mayacamas, and culminated with a long, cool Indian summer, those 7 acres would yield less than 20 tons of small berry clusters, just three of which Boyd kept for Creō.
The 2008 Creō Clajeux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is deepest purple, infused with explosive aromas of crushed black fruits, violets, anise and mountain graphite. Powerfully concentrated on the attack, loaded with blackberry and black cherry, the finish is long and complex, braced by the fine, dusty tannins of the Mayacamas.
2008 Creō Cabernet Sauvignon Clajeux Vineyard
"The 2008 Clajeux Cabernet is deep purple to the edge edge, infused with aromas of Licorice, crushed black fruits, graphite and violets. Powerfully concentrated on the attack, loaded with blackberry and black cherry, the finish is long and complex, braced by the fine, dusty tannins of the Mayacamas. Drink now for its primary fruit opulence. Better still, lay this one down for a decade. It could use the rest."
-- WineAccess Travel Log
"This one is excellent, a worthy follow-up to the winery's 2007, offering smooth and rich tannins, with elaborate blackberry, cherry, cassis and mocha flavors. New oak plays a dominant role, but it should recede as the wine integrates over time. Give it 6-8 years in the cellar."
94 points -- Wine Enthusiat