2005 Arcadian Winery Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir

Mission Codename: Oh, Fiddlestix!

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Infiltrate the award-winning Santa Barbara County Arcadian Winery, a winery that has always kept its prized wines close. Get special access to Arcadian’s best wines, and select a high-scoring single vineyard Pinot Noir for our deserving Operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Arcadian Winery

Wine Subject: 2005 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir – Sta. Rita Hills

Winemaker: Joseph Davis

Backgrounder: The Wine Spies arre always impressed by Pinot Noir from the Sta. Rita Hills, a Santa Barbara County growing region that has been producing some of the finest Pinot Noir south of Sonoma and Napa counties. Today’s award-winning wine hails from a producer that allows very few wine merchants access to their prized wines. Today, we are proud to be the only online wine merchant to feature their single vineyard Fiddlestix 2005 Pinot Noir.

California’s Central Coast region, and specifically Santa Barbara have become one of the state’s premier regions for Pinot Noir. The generally warmer climate, moderated by the coastal fog, its sandy and clay loam soil, and broad exposure results in Pinot of exceptional purity.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Beautiful dark ruby hues, with a with a deeper garnet heart. Color is concentrated from core to edge. When swirled, tall and skinny legs form high up on the glass. After these descend to the surface, a second set of legs appears, mid-way up.

Smell – Heady and bold, with candied cherry, fresh strawberries and black cherry out in front. These are followed by dried dark flowers, earthy blackberry and bramble. As the wine opens up, aromas soften and soft Clementine peel, cedar and a hint of anise join in.

Feel – Velvet smooth across the entry, the wine quickly expands on the palate, becoming warm and full-bodied. A moment after it settles, fine-grained tannins add a velour texture. After the wine crosses the palate, a mineral-rich, flinty dryness gradually encroaches.

Taste – Beautifully balanced, with fruit and earthen character in perfect proportion. Dark strawberry and black cherry lead to candied red cherry and tart cranberry. These bright fruits are tempered against bramble, flint, dried earth, subtle dried leaves and sweetwoods. At the end, soft dried meats make an intriguing experience.

Finish – Long and flavorful, with red fruit leading to darker fruits – which eventually yield to earthen flavors of dark minerals, earth and a hint of black pepper.

Conclusion – Today’s Pinot Noir, from our new friends at Arcadian, is a gorgeous, delicious, bright and bold treat. We are honored that Arcadian has given us special access to their cellars, and we are very happy to have selected their stunning 2005 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir as our featured wine of the day. With windswept evening fog and hot days, the climate of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA is particularly well suited to Pinot Noir and today’s wine really communicates the terroir of the region – and the Fiddlestix Vineyard. With bold, bright flavors and a deep nose, this is a delicious wine to enjoy all on its own. However, with its bright acidity and complex flavors, we recommend pairing it with something bold and spicy. We enjoyed our sample bottle with homemade gourmet Not-so-sloppy Joes. The experience was heavenly. And so very tasty!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Joe Davis

WINE EDUCATION: course study at UC Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Began my career at Morgan Winery in 1984 and remained for 10 years as winemaker. I spent one year as General Manager at Bernardus Winery and then began Arcadian in 1996

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Challenging the style of the new world

WINEMAKER QUOTE: It’s always about elegance and class with respect to Pinot Noir. It is in my soul and in my glass.



AGENT RED: Greetings, Joe. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

JOE DAVIS: I am equally excited to be working with the Wine Spies to introduce our wines to a whole new segment of wine lovers who may have not had the opportunity to taste Arcadian Fiddlestix Pinot Noir. Especially from such a great vintage!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

JOE: Without a doubt and the wine still resonates in my mind even today. As a young undergraduate I worked in a wine shop. While there a very good customer was kind enough to present me with a gift for graduation. I convinced him that we should share it with the staff that very night and of course we opened the bottle. To say it was a profound experience doesn’t really begin to express the impact that it has made on my life. I have had it on only one other occasion and again it was sublime. Subsequently, it was presented to me as a gift from the family that produced it while I was an acting guest of honor for the Magic Moments charity in Birmingham AL This bottle remains in Atlanta GA where it is in the artist Thomas Arvid’s cellar waiting to be painted alongside a bottle of Arcadian.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

JOE: Again this is an easy answer for me – Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac in the village of Morey St. Denis Burgundy France. It was his 1978 Dujac Clos de la Roche that captured my soul. And it is this wine that has become the “elusive chalice” that I have been searching for in my own wines.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

JOE: This is an excellent question that can be easily answered but requires some explanation: When I am in the cellar it is my palate and mine alone that must be the deciding factor in preparing the final composition. I must make wine that I believe in and am most passionate about. So it must first be for myself and then for those who share my convictions of what great wine should be. The detail of what that can be requires a much greater space for discussion. I do believe however, that the wine should come from a place and consistently reflect that place. That despite many of the decisions that I must make in the process of making wine, the overriding factor should always be the place. There should be a consistent aromatic and flavor profile that can be recognized by many as coming from that place.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

JOE: I love this wine so much! 2005 may be the greatest vintage on the Central Coast in the last 28 years. It certainly is my favorite and the 2005 Fiddlestix reflects the vintage so beautifully. It is what I call a classic vintage that is about elegance and breed and straight lines. A wine that will live a long life and with each passing year prove why with some wines the sum is greater than its parts; so often we drink our wines so young and we do not allow them to evolve. We drink the parts and miss out on the nuance that can be so alluring with time. That’s not to say that this wine can be drunk today it has so much to offer right now but will certainly reward time in the cellar. Of all the sites that I work with Fiddlestix perhaps reminds me the most of what I taste when I am drinking Burgundy. There is minerality to this wine that you don’t often see here in California. There is beautiful fruit here as well but the complexity of the fruit and mineral combination is what can confuse tasters into not recognizing its California roots.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

JOE: Fiddlestix does not produce a big opulent style so while it has femininity it also has muscle that is more sinewy than massive. The structure is that or a female gymnast. With that in mind it can stand up to bolder richer food. I love to eat this with a compote of wild mushrooms, a mélange if you will reduced down until it is dense and rich and powerful in flavor. Stir some risotto and ladle this compote over the risotto and you will at once feel as if you have been transported to the countryside.

For those of you who are protein lovers, roasting a leg of lamb will also provide the richness I am looking for to match this wine.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Sta. Rita Hills AVA- and the Fiddlestix Vineyard – so special?

JOE: There is just not enough time to begin to explain all of the things that make the Santa Rita Hills so very special. Just the topography alone would be explanation enough. Add into that the fact that it is a relatively new growing region that has immensely benefited from the many advancements we have made in viticulture these last 15 years. The soils have decomposed in place and are rich in calcium, producing very small berries that are very intense in color and flavor. The cool prevailing marine winds allow for one of the longest fruit hang times for Pinot Noir that we know of. Easily two to three weeks longer than the north coast sites.

Fiddlestix sits right between the famed Sanford and Benedict Vineyard and Sea Smoke Vineyard. From the very beginning it produced very special fruit. As it continues to mature the quality grows and we see so many great things there,

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

JOE: It is quiet in the cellar so my time is spent focused on sales and watching my son play baseball with his pinto all star team. Soon my daughter will be performing in the local theatre the play Crazy For You and I can’t wait to see her on stage.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

JOE: With the understanding that they were bottled with very little dissolved oxygen to aide in their slow development in the cellar. This means that they will require some decanting to allow them to open up. I want my wines to stimulate the mind of the consumer and that means they will need to focus and give some thought to it. The time they spend listening to and thinking about this wine will reward them with such pleasure.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

JOE: I just want to say thank you to all of you who decide to bring this wine into your home. I am honored that you have invited us to be part of your meal hopefully shared with family or close friends. May this deliver far more than you paid and reward you in a way the you had hoped and deserved.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Fiddlestix Vineyard* in Santa Barbara County’s Sta. Rita Hills can be seen in this satellite photo.

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