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Arcadian Winery Winegrower Joe Davis is a believer in Old World (Burgundy) methods of crafting fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A classicist, his wines often need a few years to really offer their charms. As writer Dennis Schaefer has said, “Almost every winemaker who makes Pinot Noir professes to follow the Burgundian model. And, more or less that’s true. But with some winemakers, the ‘less’ part is apparent, and plenty of shortcuts may be employed. With winemaker Joe Davis, everything is always ‘more’ Burgundian.”
Joe's wine epiphany was a bottle of 1978 Domaine Dujac Clos de la Roche. "To have winemaking as a life pursuit and to make wine like this," he thought, "would be the most wonderful thing in the world." So his quest began. He read everything he could get his hands on that was wine related and enrolled in the University of California at Davis graduate program. In 1985, he went to work for Dan Lee of Morgan Winery and developed the Pinot Noir program there.. He left in 1994 to become a winemaker at Bernardus Winery and finally, in 1996, set out on his own and founded Arcadian.
Arcadian owns no vineyards, but Joe spends considerable time in his contracted vineyards from Monterey, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara counties, making him as much a farmer as a winemaker. He was mentored by noted winemaker Dan Lee Morgan of Morgan Winery.
Production is 8,000 cases annually of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The wines are released after extended barrel aging and often lag the market by one or two vintages. Arcadian exports wine to thirteen countries.
The winery is at 4457 Santa Rosa Road, Lompoc (Lompoc Wine Ghetto). The tasting room is open daily from 11:00 to 5:00. The wines are sold on the website with some retail distribution.
2006 Arcadian Jill’s Cuvée Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., unreleased. Produced in honor of Davis’ spouse, Jill. Clone 667. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Hi-brow aromas of black cherries, berry preserves, herbs and seasoned oak, fading a bit over time in the glass. Bright berry essence saturates the mid palate persisting on the black cherry driven finish that has a spark of acidity. Undertones of pomegranate, spice and savory herbs add interest. A solid wine with supple tannins and an appealing satiny texture that can be enjoyed now. Very good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »
2005 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.44, TA 0.67, 226 cases, $56. A challenging older vineyard to farm. Planted in 1970, now owned by Talbott Winery. Martini and upright clone (Pinot Droid). Aged 14 months in 40% new 3-year-old extra-tight-grain Sirugue French oak barrels. Aged 14 months in bottle. Unfined and unfiltered. Dedicated to Dan Lee (Morgan Vineyard). · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. A distinctive wine displaying very ripe fruit flavors that is typical for this vineyard in my experience. Aromas of macerated cherries and red raspberries with hints of melon, red currants, marzipan and oak. The flavors veer to darker fruits including black cherries and dark red berries displaying a very ripe, even porto profile. Hints of Asian 5-spice and oak add interest. Seamless with soft tannins and easy drinkability. Good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »
2005 Arcadian Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.36, TA 0.71, 183cases, $60. Davis has been making wine from this vineyard since 2001. Sourced from Block 1 planted in 1998 and Block 2 planted in 1999. Clones 113, 115, 667, 777. 70% whole cluster. Yields were 1.75 tons per acre. Aged 22 months in 40% 3 year-old extratight- grain Sirugue French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Enticing array of scents including dark berry preserves, toast and forest floor. The most tannic wine among those tasted here but balanced nicely by the intense and vibrant black cherry and dark red berry fruit. Davis fights to tame this vineyard which can be aggressive. Drank much better the next day and was spectacular two days after opening from an re-corked bottle. Approachable now, but will be cause for celebration several years from now. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »
2005 Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $60. · Lightest in color of all the Pisoni bottlings. Appealing aromas of black cherries, spice, straw, herbs and a touch of barnyard. Tasty black cherry, blueberry fruit with a tangy finish. Very soft dry tannins. This is a very Burgundian interpretation of the Pisoni Vineyard, more austere than all the other Pisoni Vineyard bottlings, with an appeal that sneaks up on you. Score: 89. Reviewed October 3, 2009 ARTICLE »
2005 Arcadian Dierberg Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., pH 3.39, TA 0.65, 116 cases, $65. The vineyard was planted in 1997 to Dijon 115, 667 and 777 as well as Martini clone and a Champagne clone 31. Alluvial sand and clay loam soils. Cold soak is followed by fermentation in small open-top vats. Primary and secondary fermentation are completed in barrel. Aged 22 months in 3-year-old extra-tight-grain Sirugue French oak barrels, 40% of which were new. Aged 14 months in bottle. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderate reddish-purple robe in the glass. The nose is layered with aromas that include fresh black cherries, spice, white pepper, anise and oak. Discreetly concentrated core of black cherry and blackberry fruit wrapped in fine-grain tannins and displaying an appealing earthiness. Finishes with persistence and silkiness. Even better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Best Pinot Noir I have ever had from this vineyard. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »
2005 Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.37, TA 0.68, 91 cases, $95. Sourced from a coveted parcel on the ranch at the top of the main block containing the steepest slope. These are some of the oldest vines on the property. Davis is typically the first to pick at Pisoni Vineyard. 3-day cold soak, 12 day fermentation, inoculated yeast, aged in 40% new 3-year-old extra-tight-grain French oak barrels. · Moderate reddishpurple color in the glass. Shy but pleasing aromas of dark red berries and subtle oak. Tasty core of dark red fruits that are juicy and crisp, finishing a tiny bit shallow with a refreshing grip of acidity and polished tannins. A seamless wine that was still charming two days later from a previously opened and recorked bottle. A unique elegant and restrained style of Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir. Very good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »
2004 Arcadian Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
15.8% alc., $50. Co-owner and winemaker Davis has been a close friend of Kathy Joseph's and began sourcing fruit from Fiddlestix Vineyard in 2001. · Dark reddish-purple wine showing very ripe, raisiny and oak-infused aromas. Cooked dark fruit flavors with grippy tannins, tangy acidity and a dry, tart finish. Reviewed October 1, 2008 ARTICLE »
2003 Arcadian Rio Vista Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
A blend of clones 115 and 667 · This is more restrained than many Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noirs featuring tart cherry flavors and bracing acidity. This won’t disappoint at the dinner table. Reviewed July 23, 2007 ARTICLE »
2003 Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
$80. · From the most coveted block of the famed Pisoni Vineyard. Many people say Joe’s Pisoni Pinot Noir is the most “unpisoni” of the many that are produced from this vineyard. It really amounts to an interpretation of the site and Joe prefers a more modest, medium-bodied, and understated style that offers plenty of restrained power beautifully matched with a silky texture and bright acidity at the end. I also sampled the Reviewed March 5, 2007 ARTICLE »
2002 Arcadian Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
$50. Joe says the grapes from Fiddlestix can have considerable structure and tannin and it takes some clever skill to “tame the beast.” · This is a current release and shows off what Joe’s wines do with a little bottle age. Plenty of complexity here with charming earth, leather and soy notes and dusty tannins. Reviewed July 23, 2007 ARTICLE »
2001 Arcadian Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
13.0% alc.. 42 acres planted with cuttings from Pisoni Vineyard. Average sugars at harvest were 23.5 Brix. 100% whole cluster fermentation. Aged 22 months in French oak bottles and an additional 14 months in bottle before release. Unfined and unfiltered. · The following wine had been in my cellar since release. Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass with no brickish changes. Aged aromas of currants, raisins, kid glove and redwood. Medium weighted and ephemeral on the palate with slightly roasted dark fruit flavors and undertones of fig and soy. Supple tannins and bright acidity. This wine has held up beautifully: a sign that it was well-made. Very good. Reviewed July 1, 2011 ARTICLE »
2001 Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
$82 (current retail). Joe Davis crafts this wine differently than many working with Pisoni fruit. He picks less ripe and strives for balance and elegance. · A sturdy wine that is still supple. Ripe, smoky dark fruits, oak spice and barnyard on the nose. Cassis, plum and earth flavors leading to a dry and citric finish with zippy acidity. Drinking beautifully now. Reviewed October 1, 2008 ARTICLE »
2000 Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
This is not a misprint! · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. A fine aged wine with aromas of black cherry liquor, tobacco, dried herbs and dark chocolate. Secondary characters of leather and herbs accent the sweet, dried cherry core. Juicy acidity, melded tannins and some finishing drive. (2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008 Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir are still for sale on the winery’s website - $75-$100) Score: 92-94. Reviewed April 4, 2015 ARTICLE »