Prowess, Reimagined

Since its inaugural vintage in 2013, The Prowess Proprietary Red has been a blend of Bordeaux varieties, with its composition depending on the vintage. 

Beginning in 2018, our winemaker Kristina Shideler decided to use a slightly different approach.

“I’ve always been interested in making a blend that highlighted more Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  However, I’m not convinced that these varieties need to be in the standard 59-gallon barrels, at least for the 24-month period that we age our Cabernet Sauvignon.  These varieties don’t seem to need as much oxygen exposure during aging (a smaller barrel has more surface area and more micro-oxygenation, therefore aging the wine faster), and so I started looking at larger oak barrels and eventually these large French oak foudres.  I was first inspired by these larger-than-life barrels at Chateau Beaucastel during a trip to France, but you will also find them in the cellars of some of California’s most classic producers like Heitz Cellar and Mayacamas.  After talking to other winemakers and working with the François Frères cooper in France, we had two custom foudres made in France and shipped over by boat to our winery. 

Each foudre holds approximately 1,200 gallons of wine, which is equivalent to roughly 20 standard barrels, and spans 6 feet wide and 8 feet high!   Rather than having small barrels of different vineyards to blend later, blending in foudres must happen earlier in the life of the wine, which I’ve found really harmonizes the blend and creates beautiful balance of the various varieties during aging.  Another thing I love about the foudres is how they seem to really uphold the fruit and aromatic character of the wine and also convey a more youthful and energetic palate.”

Assistant Estate Manager, Dave Cassetta, in front of foudre for scale
Assistant Estate Manager, Dave Cassetta, in front of foudre for scale.


With a blend composition of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec, 17% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot, this wine has tremendous length and character.  It is classic in every sense, yet very singular in style and really differentiates itself from the rest of the Arrowood red wine lineup.  Three years in the making, we’re excited for you to be among the first to try this special bottling.


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