I was born and raised in San Francisco. To me, a breath of fresh air includes sea salt and seaweed; a warm day is in the high-sixties; and seafood is always fresh because, well, there’s just no excuse. But as life’s twists and turns would have it, I’ve found myself living in the South Bay. Now, fresh air only happens in the early hours of the pre-dawn; a warm day can be triple-digits; and any fresh seafood is that which I can find at a Safeway or Whole Foods. I don’t mesh with this tech culture, where the word “park” is preceded by the word “business.” Where’s the art? Where’s the unique forms of self-expression? Where are my people?

Every once in awhile I’ll find an answer to those questions. When I met the folks at Three Arches Winery in Sunnyvale, I found all three — art, meets unique, meets people with a passion beyond the silicon chip…

Meet Three Arches: three retired couples, living out their project of passion in a warehouse along the Silicon Valley suburbs. I first met them at a wine walk in downtown Saratoga, where their sheer energy completely enraptured me: the energy in their personalities, the energy they infuse into their wines. I never do this, but I signed up for their wine club that very day and enjoyed the fruits of the labor for three very happy years.

A wine club pick up always meant a hug from Steve, a kiss from Rose, and endless conversation about wine, family, and whatever shenanigans came to mind. Happiness was indeed Three Arches — a breath of fresh air, a warm environment, and above all else a fresh perspective on wine. Sourcing grapes from the local Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains, Three Arches taught me that there is some nature left here in the South Bay; there are some artistic minds; and I can (and do) appreciate my immediate surroundings, even if its not my place of origin.

Unfortunately — as tends to happen in all areas of the Bay Area — the space where Three Arches set up their winery and shop was purchased, and my good friends no longer had the means with which to produce their epic wines.

But they went out with a statement — a cry loud and proud that their bold wines will not be forgotten. As a club member, I got first dibs and a special discount on any case of wine I wanted. And so it is that I came into possession of a dozen bottles of the Three Arches 2014 Trefoil – Right Bank Bordeaux-style Blend.

About the Wine: The Three Arches 2014 Trefoil – Right Bank Bordeaux-style Blend is made from 40% Merlot, 30% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petite Sirah sourced from various vineyards within the Santa Cruz Mountains. The wine was aged in combination American and French oak barrels (exact percentages and length unknown).

13.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Upon opening the bottle there’s an immediate aroma of blueberries, dank oak wood, and wet soil. As this Bordeaux-inspired wine flows from bottle to glass, it emits the perfect definition of maroon — a red meets purple, meets brown. In the glass, the wine is even darker, concentrating to a near black center.

You can’t not smell the wine as you pour and observe the Trefoil — it’s just that aromatic. Initial smells are of overripe, concentrated dark fruits like black figs and prunes. It’s almost reminiscent of a late harvest, dessert-style wine on the nose. There is a thin line of acid, a background of oak, and the sweet-meets-savory scent of molasses.

On the palate you’ll know right away that this was not a late harvest situation. In fact the wine is quite dry from the start. Dominate flavors are of black cherry, black fig, molasses, and bell pepper skins (this last one is most pronounced on the finish). There’s also a strong, constant background of oak — more reminiscent of American oak aging than French (though this could just be the youngness of the wine itself). The tannins are strong, but not cloying or clingy. The acid is a solid line from start to finish, lifting those fruits to the appropriate level for this style of wine.

Food Pairing: I paired the Three Arches 2014 Trefoil with filet mignon, roasted tomatoes on the vine, and a side salad of arugula topped with shaved gouda, pine nuts, and tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette reduction. What I loved was how the acidity in the vinaigrette, along with its sweetness due to the reduction process, seemed to calm the tannins and elevate the fruit. This made the wine slightly less dry, the body a bit rounder. Of course the juiciness of the steak was the perfect protein to stand alongside the intensity of this red wine: the grilled, crusty exterior paralleled those peppery notes, while the medium rare interior revealed some umami.

More Info: I will note here that this wine is in its youth and, on its own, was a bit rough. However, I’m glad I took advantage of the Three Arches final sale when I did and stocked up on a whole case. My new goal is to try this wine once every year or two until I run out and see how it progresses.

Unfortunately, Three Arches Winery is no longer in production. You can read more about Three Arches from my previous reviews. Though there may be some wines still available for purchase. Visit the Three Arches website to contact the owners if interested or with any other further questions.

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