Minerality, emotional energy and hedonistic joy are for me very important parts of a good wine. A wine without a lively, defined or precise expression of terroir cannot be a great wine, much less a vin d’émotion. Even lesser wines need freshness and a mineral impression to give them the liveliness and vividness needed to thrill the senses.
I have tasted many good wines from all over the world (admittedly mainly Burgundy), and it’s true that Oregon can on occasion produce fine wines – even very fine wines, surprisingly mineral-driven and emotional.
To support my assertion, I give you Rose & Arrow!
Rose & Arrow
Rose & Arrow is the brainchild of Mark Tarlov, the man who started Evening Land, and who is also a well-known movie producer.
For the Burgundian-minded, the project was started under the consultancy of Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, who brought legendary terroir consultant Pedro Parra onto the team.
The aim – or should I say the goal – was in theory simple: to make the best Oregon wines by uncovering the state’s best terroirs. “Aim” indicates that you know it’s there, while “goal” is more on the visionary level.
Today, winemaker Felipe Ramirez is in charge, and the Rose & Arrow team has spent the past years decoding the terroirs of the Willamette Valley. They have literally been looking at plots within parcels, and have been scanning the topography for special geological formations.
The endeavour started in 2012 with a sensual tour de force of tastings. Then the tasting notes were overlaid onto the data from Pedro Parra’s vineyard-mapping techniques.
Parra was then using electromagnetic mining technology and old-fashioned soil pits (over 200 dug) to accumulate his data. Using them, the team was able to pinpoint the exact types of geology that produced the most exciting, minerally thrilling pinot noir.
With this new understanding of what might be possible, land was acquired. Today Tarlov owns or farms over 60 hectares, and most of the harvest goes into a separate project called Chapter 24.
The very best plots, just over 2 hectares (less than 4% of the crop), are producing the 100- to 350-case cuvees that make up the Rose & Arrow range. These special cuvees come mostly from east-facing volcanic soils at mid-slope.
Winemaking-wise, there is some clear inspiration from Vosne-Romanée, although implemented to suit the different geological formations,
Currently, all the fruit is destemmed, a practice that could be moderated in future, as one would expect some stem inclusion could give further complexity. Extraction is done by infusion, with regular, gentle pump-overs in open-top fermenters. Elevage is 12-15 months with no intermediate racking.
The same coopers Liger-Belair chooses in Vosne-Romanee are used in the cellar, although the proportion of new oak is around 20% – Seguin Moreau in this case.
The result is surprising: wines with both finesse and a distinct expression of the volcanic soil. The wines come in three quality tiers: the ‘Village’ wines represent small vineyards holdings that share similar rock composition; the ‘Articulates’, from specific rocky sections within vineyards, display especially individual characteristics and are bottled separately.
Finally, the ‘Prime Expressions’ – three wines that come from very specific geological formations and express the utmost of these terroirs
The Rose & Arrow Gathered Stones 2017
The Gathered Stones 2017 was a real treat, and was included in a blind tasting of Burgundy with prominent Burgundian friends.
Rose & Arrow Gathered Stones 2017
The wine is crystal clear with no reduction and a lovely, mineral note. The fruit is cool, airy and expressive, with a floral, mineral touch and a hint of crushed stones and light gunpowder. This was enjoyable and forward, with good emotional values and a light-footed, medium weight. I would guess a Burgundian 1er cru with medium density, as the mineral impression is on the refined side. It gives the impression of spring water running over pure, cool stones. The minerality is more granitic, but is crystal clear; not typically Burgundian, but with its own, very fine, expression. The energy works well, giving the wine lightness, refinement and fine drinkability. Off the top of my head, this is a vin d’emotion, although a bit on the discrete or even or slightly on the “technical” side.
(Drink from 2032) – Very Fine – (93-94p) – Tasted 27/09/2020 –
I will taste further Rose & Arrows during the next weeks … and so far they do challenge both my perception and palate … mostly in a very good and exciting way.