Return to California 12: Enrico Bertoz and Arbe Garbe

Fruili-inspired Whites in California: Enrico Bertoz, and Arbe Garbe

Starting in the Central Valley of California, Enrico Bertoz kept moving North looking for the perfect place to make his wines. He found the sandy loam of the Russian River Valley, and stuck, beginning his label, Arbe Garbe. The focus is on a name sake white blend, with single grape varietals that showcase the best of the vintage.

the new 2011 labels–this photo is the first public viewing of them, designed by Enrico Bertoz

the tasting line up–2009 Ribolla Gialla, four vintages of Arbe Garbe (2009–2011), and 2011 Malvasia

four vintages of Arbe Garbe–2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. 2007 was the first, but it is no longer available for tasting. The Arbe Garbe blend is modeled after a Bianco style wine in Friuli–blending of white grapes changing depending on the vintage.The 2008, 40% Pinot Bianco, 50% Malvasia Bianca, 10% Viognier with flavors and bouquet of light beeswax, hints of dark nuts, toasted bread, and a zippy salinity. 14.5% alcohol.

the grapes that go into the Arbe Garbe blend are primarily from the Russian River Valley, though 2009 also included Ribolla Gialla from Vare’s Napa vineyard. The 2009 carried 85% Pinot Grigio, and equal portions Ribolla Gialla and Friulano. (the Malvasia Bianca was fried that year do to high heat late in the season.) The 2009 presentation carries a pickled lemon palate (pleasing salt with citrus), with a slightly smokey nose showing almost mackerel fishy notes–that is fatty sea fresh elements (again, this is pleasing)–and light beeswax plus incense, alongside citrus blossom and nut. This is a rich rendition of the blend. I love this vintage. 14.5% alcohol.

the 2010 vintage presents 50% Pinot Grigio, 40% Malvasia Bianca, and 10% Ribolla Gialla–the Ribolla Gialla with 36 hours of skin contact. The wine showcases the textural elements of the phenolic Ribolla Gialla, with the fragrant nose of the Malvasia Bianca. There is a pleasing salinity in the palate alongside the richness of nut skins, freshness of citrus blossom, and good acidity with a tickle-y mouthfeel. 14.3% alcohol.

2009 was a good vintage for Ribolla Gialla in Napa Valley. Getting excited about the quality of the fruit, Enrico Bertoz chose to do a single varietal bottling of the grape. This is a wonderful white with a nose of light wax, saline, and light citrus, showcasing a very active mouth and nice palate of warm wax, fresh citrus, and aged nut, plus the wonderful structure of Ribolla. 14.5% alcohol.

Enrico explains that he is able to make his wines thanks to the help of many others, including his meticulous and open minded vineyard owner and manager.

More on Enrico’s work to follow.

Thank you to Enrico Bertoz. I very much enjoyed tasting your wines, and meeting you.

Thank you to Dan Petroski.

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