I know, I know, I reviewed another Rosé from Callaghan Vineyards fairly recently, and I don’t like to review wines from the same winery close to each other. But this is different. Why? Because a dear friend of mine is having a Rosé party soon, and I’d like for her to share the details of the wines I sent her at the said party with her friends. Plus, you know, sparkling. I really enjoy Sparkling Wine, even though I find them very hard to write about. I’ve been looking forward to this bottle of the 2016 Barrett’s Sparkling Rosé for a while now. Sparkling wine is–so far–a rare thing in Arizona, with only a few winemakers experimenting with it, but it is poised to take off here. It is time we examine what one of the grandmasters of Arizona wine has done with the concept.
The 2016 Barrett’s Sparkling Rosé is a promising blend of Grenache and Graciano from Kent Callaghan’s estate vineyard.
The Wine: The Barrett’s Sparkling Rosé is named after Lisa Callaghan’s oldest daughter. The wine was made by Kent Callaghan, at his facility in the Sonoita AVA. This 2016 vintage is the first of hopefully a long future line, made from estate Grenache and Graciano–very similar to the Waverly Rosé we reviewed not too long ago. The wine is bone dry, and bottle-fermented to about 6 atmospheres of pressure. The wine was not disgorged; sugar and yeast culture was added into the bottle ferment in the classic method–akin to champagne or cava. This makes this wine different to the Pet Nat style; in that style, wine is bottled before the wine has finished its primary fermentation. The hue of this wine is an interesting rusty pink color, similar to “vieux rose” on my color chart. In the glass, there is a steady stream of bubbles which make this wine lively.
The Nose: Aromas of apricot, honey, and toasty yeast intermingle with notes stonefruit, jasmine, rose petals, cliff rose, raspberry, and crushed flint in this wine.
The Palate: The 2016 Barrett’s Sparkling Rosé is quite effervescent on the palate, with notes of flint, toast, apricot, strawberry, ocotillo flower, and stonefruit. The finish lasts for 51 seconds, with notes of grass, flint, apricot, strawberry, white cherry, white flowers, stonefruit, with the acidity playing quite well with all the bubbles. Interestingly, I feel that this wine tastes nothing at all like the Waverly’s Dry Rosé that this wine is based on. There is no residual sugar.
The Pairing: Kent noted to me that the wine is quite bubbly and that it would be best to have two glasses to pour into immediately upon opening; I agree with this assessment entirely. The 2016 Barrett’s Sparkling Rosé, therefore, is best shared between two people: whether friends or lovers. Pair this wine as you would any Rosé champagne: hors d’oeuvres and the like, whether vegan or otherwise. For a particularly decadent meal with an odd pairing, serve this wine with some fried chicken while on a picnic. You could also pair this with a lighter cigar, like an Ashton 898.
Impressions: The 2016 Barrett’s Sparkling Rosé is a promising (and satisfying) vanguard for the future of Arizona wine. I would age this wine as you would a champagne; but at the same time, it is tasting really fun right now–I leave the choice of aging up to you. I expect, however, that this wine may attain additional characters of honey and kirsch cherries after aging for another five or so years.
Personified, I feel this wine has an oddly masculine character; a Sufi poet perhaps, sitting under a tree waiting for his beloved, or for the camaraderie of close friends, composing under the shade of a sycamore. Which makes me think of one of my favorite quotes from the Persian poet Omar Khayyam:
“Drink wine. This is life eternal. This is all that youth will give you. It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
Tannat is the wine of kings. Seriously: French Kings used to receive barrels of Tannat in lieu of taxes, to be sold off later. The fact is, I really enjoy Tannat. It is one of my favorite varietals when done properly. I feel that here in Arizona, we do vintages of Tannat which are on par with those coming from the Madiran AOC from Southern France. As I’ve said before, I also feel that the vintages from D.A Ranch are some of the best expressions of Tannat in the entire state of Arizona. I have reviewedalmosteverypreviousvintage of Tannat from this vineyard here at the Wine Monk, so let’s take a look at the 2016 Capra Tannat this time around. (I missed out reviewing the 2015 vintage since I only managed to get one bottle… which is currently sitting in my collection for a future vertical. Whoops. Expect to see this vintage in a future podcast.)
The 2016 Capra Tannat from D.A. Ranch is a wine with bearing and gravitas.
The Wine: The 2016 Capra Tannat is 100% Tannat, sourced from D.A. Ranch, located in Page Springs, in the Verde Valley of Northern Arizona. This wine underwent fermentation for about 10 days in open-top bins and was then aged entirely in French Oak barrels. I don’t have the exact data for this vintage, but if it was aged in half-strength, so to speak, when compared to the reserve vintage, the 2016 Capra wine probably saw at most 25% New French oak for about 6 months, and probably a minimum of 12 months in 100% neutral barrels. (The 2016 Capra Reserve, which has not been released yet, was aged for 6 months in 50% new French, and an additional 12 months in 100% neutral barrels. I am assuming until I learn otherwise that this non-reserve received about half of the oak.) The wine was made by Joe Bechard at the Chateau Tumbleweed facility. This vintage is dark; an almost black purple that on my color chart is labeled as “Rouge indien.”
The Nose: The nose of the 2016 Capra opens with aromas of black fruit and cedar: cassis, plum, black cherry, and blackberries, which intermingle with floral notes of lavender, cedar, and violets, intermingling with just a hint of myrrh, Perique tobacco, campfire smoke, and cinnamon. After decanting, brighter fruit notes of raspberry and prickly pear emerge, intermingling with all the above aroma characters. This wine has a deeply satisfying nose.
The Palate: The 2016 Capra is a full-bodied vintage with high acidity and big, firm tannins. Notes of sandalwood, plum, black cherry, and cassis intermingle with black pepper, allspice, lavender and tobacco. After the wine has been decanted, red fruit notes of pomegranate, prickly pear, and raspberry emerge, along with lilac and fennel. The finish of the 2016 Capra lasts for 1 minute and 5 seconds on average, filled with notes of cherry, plum, basalt, allspice, cinnamon, cassis, black pepper, sea salt, prickly pear, intermingling with that bracing acidity and savory tannins. Tannins and black fruit hang on the palate the longest.
The Pairing: I would pair the 2016 Capra with big foods. My first choice would actually be some sort of goat curry, or maybe roasted Lamb. New York Strip Steak will also work well. Strong, aged cheeses would work well, and if you seek a vegan or vegetarian pairing, a heavy mushroom dish will do wonderfully with this wine. If you are into pairing wine in cigars, a nice Robusto will work quite well.
Impressions: The 2016 Capra demonstrates why D.A. Ranch continuously provides my favorite vintages of Tannat produced in Arizona.I know some people don’t like the bit of smoke taint, but I find this to be part of the terroir of this vineyard–smoke from the campground across the stream settles here, providing a note of place to this vintage–a specific terroir to this particular block, found nowhere else in the world. It is a piece of my home, so to speak. Joe Bechard has done a good job of making it only a subtle hint, rather than completely overwhelming other flavor characters.
There is, in my mind, a deeply satisfying, intense gravitas to this vintage in particular; perfectly suited for a wine that was once considered the “wine of kings.” I feel like I keep saying thisevery year, but this is the best vintage of Capra yet. It is bold, and complex, and should age quite well for 10-15 years without any major problems. This complexity makes the 2016 Capra a great “thinking” wine, so to speak.
Personified, I feel like the gravitas of this wine lends itself well to being a “tycoon of industry,” in charcoal grey suits, with a wine-colored vest. Possibly he wears a bolo tie. Possibly not. He was a philosophy major before he became a CEO, and uses his knowledge of philosophy to his advantage in business transactions. He is also fond of cigars and good bourbon. While he is a tycoon of industry, he is also a philanthropist… but does not like this fact to get out. In short, he is a man with regal bearing and solemnity.
Scenes from a Tannat harvest at D.A. Ranch with yours truly.
The Site Archive series produced by Arizona Stronghold Vineyard contains my favorite wines under the Stronghold label. Historically, the Malvasia vintages which were under the Site Archive series were sourced from Al BuhlMemorial Vineyard, but recent changes in fruit sourcing have allowed for the folks at Stronghold to focus more on their site at Bonita Springs Vineyard. As far as I am aware, this 2015 Site Archive Malvasia Bianca is the first of these vintages sourced from this site. How does Malvasia from this vineyard compare to the heart of the Willcox Bench?
The 2015 Site Archive Malvasia Bianca from Arizona Stronghold is an interesting exploration of the terroir of Bonita Springs Vineyard.
The Wine: The 2015 Site Archive Malvasia Bianca is made from 100% Malvasia Bianca, sourced from Bonita Springs Vineyard, located in the northern section of the Sulphur Springs Valley. These vines are younger than the Malvasia vines at Al Buhl Memorial Vineyard. I don’t know off hand if this particular vineyard is in the Willcox AVA or not, and have heard conflicting answers. The wine was made by the Stronghold team. The wine was aged in neutral French oak, and three barrels were produced. The color of this vintage, according to my color chart, is “vert d’eau pale.”
The Nose: The nose of the 2015 Site Archive Malvasia Bianca is less floral than many other Arizona Malvasia vintages. The nose opens with notes of blackcurrant bud, dried grass, jasmine, lime, starfruit, flint, and honeydew melon. As the wine opens, more traditional (for Arizona, anyway) notes emerge, intermingling with the previous notes: elderflower, and orange blossom.
The Palate: The 2015 Site Archive Malvasia Bianca is a light-bodied white wine. This wine has a pretty high alcohol for a Malvasia, sitting at 14.4%. The palate opens with strong notes of blackcurrant bud, lime, elderflower, lemongrass, sour apple, and flint. There does not seem to be a midpalate on this wine, but it does have high acidity. The finish of this wine lasts for 36 seconds, with notes of starfruit, honeydew melon, flint, and lemongrass, and a slight hint of mint.
The Pairing: Pair this wine with sushi, hands down. It is too light for heavier fare, in my opinion, but might go well with a breakfast scramble also, if you go in for that sort of thing.
Impressions: I’ll be honest; this is not my favorite Malvasia to be found in Arizona, and I feel that it is not the best representation of this grape to be found in a tasting room. I hate to say something so harsh about a vintage of my long-time bae but… there it is. The 2015 Site Archive Malvasia is a bit lackluster compared to vintages I’ve tasted coming from the heart of the Willcox Bench, or here in the Verde Valley. It feels lighter-bodied, and hotter in terms of alcohol, and slightly disjointed.
In terms of terroir influences, though, this wine I think provides an excellent comparison. Malvasia from Al Buhl tends to have softer minerality, akin to dusty limestone or travertine-infused water, while this wine has a harsher edge; to me, like licking the edge of a flint knife. I would be interested in further comparisons to see if this is a general trend due to local geology, or just an artifact of that particular team of winemakers for the 2015 crush.
Personified… this is a Malvasia with a bitter edge. She’s been hurt. She likes playing with knives. You do not want to piss her off. It will end badly for you if you do. Her smile unnerves you.
Garage-East is among my favorite urban wineries in the state, largely because it has an entirely unique feel. There is always something cool on tap, in the can, or in a bottle–and sometimes more than one at once. Plus, there’s that awesome firepit in the back. And the always freshly-made Breakfast wine is great too, especially if you want a wine to go with your homemade breakfast burrito. The first time I visited, I grabbed this bottle of the 2013 Red Wine to age for a few years, and it rather stuck me. I decided to crack open this bottle to give me an idea of how Italian-style blends age in Arizona.
The 2013 Red Wine blend from Garage East is a fascinating blend of Barbera, Aglianico, and Montepulciano.
The Wine: The 2013 Red Wine from Garage-East is a blend of 25% Aglianico, 50% Barbera, and 25% Montepulciano, all sourced from Todd Bostock’s Cimmaron Vineyard in the heart of the Willcox AVA. The wine was made by Brian Ruffentine and Todd Bostock. I do not know the details of fermentation or aging on this wine, but if I was to guess, this wine was fermented in open-top fermenters and probably saw 15-30 days on the skins before pressing and was likely aged in French oak for somewhere around 18-25 months. This is a big red, sitting at 16%, and dark as night–on my french color chart, the color is labeled as “Poupre des Pheniciens.” (A fitting color for a wine in a tasting room near Phoenix–though this has more to do with Phoenicians and their ancient Tyrian purple than a city in the desert. I digress.)
The Nose: The aromas for the 2013 Red Wine seem overall rather Italian in character, and at first whiff, I might well mistake it for an Italian blend in a blind tasting if it wasn’t for the tell-tale scent of Willcox Dust that intermingles with aromas of plum, olives, peppers, eucalyptus, stewed apples, cherry, anise, cassis, sandalwood, and black currant.
The Palate: On the Palate, the 2013 Red Wine is a medley of plum, cassis anise, cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and sandalwood. This full-bodied blend has high acidity, and grabbing tannins that emerge on the midpalate. The finish of this wine stops at 43 seconds, featuring notes of Willcox dust, petrichor, cedar, allspice, anise, licorice, plum, and raspberry, with those aforementioned tannins rising out of the depths of the midpalate of this wine.
The Pairing: Pair the 2013 Red from Garage-East with heavy Italian-style dishes, since this is clearly an homage to the wines of that fabled land. Dishes featuring lamb, steak, and/or Portobello mushrooms will be a good fit.
Impressions: The 2013 Red is a unique blend that has both Italian and Arizona Characters. Honestly, if this wine was in a blind tasting, I’d likely be hard-pressed to nail down exactly what it was–which makes this wine so intriguing. Five years down the road from the harvest, this wine is still going strong, and should cellar well for another 10 at least, thanks to the influence of the Aglianico in this blend. The tannins from the Aglianico grab you in the mid-palate–almost as if you’re swimming at sea and dragged down by a shark into the depths of this blend for further contemplation; the deceptive simplicity provided by the Barbera conquered by the deeper complexity offered by the Montepulciano and Aglianico.
Or: another fun way to describe the personification of this wine: the 2013 Garage-East Red blend is an Italian Cowboy and gunslinger, wandering the high plains of the American Southwest, being the Don Quixote of the American Old West. He has his own theme song, and carries an iron on one hip, and his grandfather’s sword on the other.
Colibri is probably my favorite vineyard in the state that I’ve never been able to visit. The legend of this vineyard nestled high in the Chiricahua Mountains between Portal and Paradise has only grown in the telling of tall tales about the site I’ve heard over the years. I’ve heard stories that it drives men to madness. I’ve heard stories that it has perfect soil. I’ve heard this vineyard called the “Grand Cru of Arizona.” It is a vineyard with a pretty steep reputation here in Arizona, and I’m quite happy to see the 2017 Colibri Rosé from Burning Tree Cellars here in the Verde Valley to represent it–I’ve never had the chance to examine a Rosé from this vineyard on the Arizona Wine Monk Blog before.
The 2017 Colibri Rosé is a fun, full-bodied rosé, from a fantastic landscape.
The Wine: The 2017 Colibri Rosé is a blend of 44% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 18% Mourvèdre, and 3% Roussanne sourced from Colibri Vineyard, in the Chiricahua Mountains. This wine is a blended saignée rosé, made by Corey Turnbull. If I recall correctly, this wine may have spent some time in neutral French oak but was fermented in stainless steel. The wine itself is a vibrant shade of pink that my French color chart labels as “geranium.”
As with every Colibri-sourced wine at Burning Tree Cellars, this vintage features a quote from Carl Jung on the label, symbolizing both the wild nature of Colibri and its still untapped potential (along with other vineyard areas in Arizona): “The signposts have fallen, unblazed trails lie before us. Do not be greedy to gobble up the fruit of foreign fields. Do you not know that you yourselves are the fertile acre which bears all that avails you?”
The Nose: The nose of this wine opens with bright mint, persimmon, mint, strawberry, and white cherry, intermingling with watermelon jolly rancher and herbal notes of white pepper and mint.
The Palate: The 2017 Colibri Rosé is a rich, satisfying, full-bodied rosé with a rich mouthfeel and high acidity. The classic white pepper notes I often associate with Colibri intermingle with bright strawberry, persimmon, white cherry, and watermelon, intermingling with sage and mint. The finish of this wine lasts for 42 seconds, persimmon, cherry, quince, strawberry, lime, sage, mint and granite.
The Pairing: Pair this wine with bigger, sharper cheeses, or roasted chicken dishes. Or a really nice Ruben sandwich, in all honesty.
Impressions: The 2017 Colibri Rosé could cellar for another year… but why would you do this to yourself? It’s tasting fantastic now and is a fun exploration of the terroir of Mysterious Colibri. It’s a deeply satisfying Rosé that is good company.
Personified, this wine reminds me a great deal of a dear friend of mine who is a badass librarian with a rich, deep, complex character. She has a brilliant sense of humor and one of the sharpest minds I know. Her friendship has had a strong influence on me for the better. Like her, this wine would love to wear vintage dresses while chatting about Stoic Philosophy and complex issues about Orthodox theology and Orthodox Christian religious life that are often overlooked. Thank God she’s finally started to write a blog about it.
Those who have gotten to know me over the years know that I have a… rather colored view of Arizona Grenache. Namely, I have often described the many takes of Arizona Grenache as being akin to the “business card scene” in American Psycho, with certain key exceptions that I consider above the cut being very specific vineyards, (such as Colibri) and very specific winemakers (such as James Callahan). So when James Callahan gave me a bottle of this 2015 Colibri Grenache, it combined two aspects of that Venn diagram in my head quite neatly.
Plus, it has an Elegant Trogon on the label. The inner bird geek in me dances with glee. What could be not to love about this wine in theory? How does it hold up in the cold light of reality? And, how does it compare to the other vintages of Grenache sourced from Pillsbury Vineyard which we have exploredbefore?
The 2015 Colibri Grenache from Rune Winery is another excellent example of the mad genius of James Callahan.
The Wine: The label description on the back of the 2015 Colibri Grenache perfectly captures in my mind (and memory, at least) the habitat of the Elegant Trogon, which is one of the major flagship members of Arizona’s avifauna: “Atop a distant isle in the sky, the Trogon elegantly grasps a berry with its beak. A slight breeze rattles the leaves as the rumbling sounds of a distant cascade create a harmonious tone in the tranquil, vine-filled canyon. A beautiful balance of nature’s art indeed.” The 2015 Colibri Grenache is made from 97% Colibri Grenache, and 3% Malvasia Bianca. This vintage was a wild ferment with the aforementioned Malvasia Bianca. This wine was on the skins for 14 days, then pressed and barreled down where it spent 18 months in a one-year-old French oak barrel. The wine was racked off the lees prior to bottling and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The winemaker for this vintage was James Callahan.
The Nose: The nose of the 2015 Colibri Grenache opens with aromas of sandalwood, plum, cherry, dried strawberry, rosehips, crushed granite, and the classic Colibri white pepper that is so common in wines from this site. There are also plentiful herbal undertones of oregano, basil, petrichor, and clay intermingling with the fruit.
The Palate: The 2015 Colibri is a medium-bodied red wine with medium acidity, and, for a wine of this varietal, still has more tannins than I was expecting. The wine opens with notes of rich strawberry, plum, and mission fig, which fade into graphite, cacao, white peppercorn, anise, and black tea leaves. The finish of this wine lasts for 58 seconds, and is filled with notes of sandalwood, gravel, cherry, anise, huckleberry, white pepper, and granite.
The Pairing: Pair the 2015 Colibri Grenache with savory Rhone or Spanish-style dishes. (I feel that Persian food might also be a great pairing as well.) I could see this wine working quite well with some lamb dishes– or better yet: rabbit, pheasant, or quail, slow cooked in wine with a side of root vegetables and saffron rice. A cassoulet or other savory roast vegetable dish also strikes me as a good pairing. The point is that I really would like to pair this wine with comfort food.
Impressions: Colibri once again proves to be a site of awe and mystery once more, with the very distinct terroir and soil showing through in this vintage. This is a deeply savory and satisfying Grenache vintage that could cellar for another 3-5 years but is tasting great now. Overall, this particular Grenache reminds me a lot of Spanish vintages from Priorat, which is why I like this better than many other Arizona Grenache vintages I’ve encountered over the years.
Personified, the 2015 Colibri Grenache is an older gentleman who has lived an immensely satisfying life and has decided to take up prospecting in his old age–just as something to pass the time. You suspect he MAY have been a spy at one point… because nobody picks up all those languages just for fun. Who *really* knows Assyrian, anyway, right?
Viognier gets a lot of street cred here in Arizona (perhaps too much at the expense of other varietals), but there are other Rhone whites planted in the high deserts of Willcox that don’t get enough love. Key among these is Marsanne and Grenache Blanc, which are usually found together only as parts of other blends with Viognier and Roussanne in the Southern Rhone. I am quite happy to see these two grapes hanging out together in the 2015 Escape, the latest iteration of the Escape blend from Flying Leap Vineyards. (I have reviewed a previous vintage of this wine here.)
The 2015 Escape is a Southern Rhone style blend that is perfect for, well, an escape.
Wine: The 2015 Escape is a blend of 71% Marsanne and 29% Grenache Blanc, sourced from the Flying Leap Vineyard location on the Willcox Bench, in the Willcox AVA. This wine was made at the facility located in the Sonoita AVA, even though the fruit came from Willcox. The idea behind this matched pair is that the Marsanne provides much of the body of the wine, while the Grenache Blanc imparts much of the acidity in this blend. My assumption is that this wine was fermented in stainless steel, but may well have seen some neutral French oak aging. The wine was made by Rolf Sasse. In color, this wine is a bright sunflower yellow–or, on my French color chart, “jaune papillon.”
The Nose: The nose of this wine is cheerful and bright, with notes of lemongrass, citrus, starfruit, pear, and acacia flower, intermingling with additional notes of dried apricots, peaches, orange flowers, bay leaves, and a hint of dried limestone.
The Palate: The 2015 Escape is a medium-bodied white bend with medium acidity. The palate opens with notes of lemon-lime, apricots, honeydew melon, pears, starfruit, intermingling with notes of roasted pecans, fresh rosemary, grass, and hints of limestone dust. TThe finish of this wine lasts for 32 seconds, filled with notes of apricot, citrus, grass, honeydew melon, and limestone dust.
The Pairing: I feel like the 2015 Escape is a perfect wine to pair with a fancy Lavender-lemon chicken dish, with a side of saffron rice. Really, any sort of Persian-style light food dish will work, either with chicken, or vegetables and tofu. I could also envision this wine pairing with salmon or trout dishes.
Impression: The 2015 Escape is tasting great now, and will not likely benefit from much further cellaring. It is a bright, cheerful medium-bodied white wine that will do well with a host of light summertime foods, or seafood. This is a good wine for the upcoming high summer months, lightly chilled, with light food or on its own after a hot day’s work.
Personified, I think of this wine as a blond beat cop in a high desert, rural area. She is walking along a dusty road, the high wind tousling her hair as tumbleweeds blow past. She is looking for evidence of an escaped criminal, searching for his tracks in the dry desert landscape. A red-tailed hawk cries overhead in the cloudless sky, because of course, this is a cliche image.
Sometimes, I get pretty insightful questions in my day job at the tasting room. Recently, someone asked me whether I felt that Arizona Syrah has the same long-term ageability as those from Northern Rhone regions like Cornas or Crozes-Hermitage. My reply was “I honestly am not sure, but I know how I can find out. At the very least, I think it will also depend on which vineyard they’re from. I’ll review my bottle of 2012 Carlson Creek Syrah and that might help decide the question.” So… this entry is for you, random Tasting Room dude who stumped me. (Sadly, I can’t remember your name. I suck at names.)
The 2012 Syrah from Carlson Creek is a bold, Shiraz-style Syrah.
The Wine: The 2012 Carlson Creek Syrah is 100% Syrah, sourced from their vineyard in the Willcox Bench. The wine was made at the AZ Stronghold facility. The wine was likely aged in mostly neutral French oak barrels but may have seen a little new oak. Most production information for this wine is unavailable at this time. This wine is pretty dark, compared to many Arizona takes on Syrah, approaching the deep garnet/ruby shades I associate more with Australian Shiraz. There is a little bit of bricking around the edge; this wine is starting to show some age.
The Nose: The nose of the 2012 Syrah opens with jammy notes of black cherry and raspberry, intermingling with notes of cedar, mint, latakia/perique tobacco, with hints of sandalwood, vanilla, and Willcox dust.
The Palate: The 2012 Carlson Creek Syrah has surprisingly high acidity and low tannins. It is fuller-bodied, again more like an Australian Shiraz. Jammy pomegranate and cherry intermingle with notes of paprika, nutmeg, perique, dust, mint, petrichor, and peppercorn. There is a bit of heat here–this wine does have a decent bit of Alcohol; again, akin to an Australian Shiraz. The finish of this wine lasts for 1 minute and 6 seconds, with notes of Latakia, peppercorn, nutmeg, sandalwood, Willcox dust, mint, and sage.
The Pairing: Since this wine doesn’t have that strong of a smoky character, I would pair this wine with a more roasted theme than a grilled theme. Roasted Lamb strikes me as a potentially a good paring, or roasted eggplant dishes. Pork roasts also seem like a good fit.
Impressions: The 2012 Carlson Creek Syrah is peaking right now, as it turns out. If you have a bottle of this wine, do not cellar this wine more than a year or two longer, in my opinion. Drink now, and enjoy! It doesn’t even require a decanter! As I remarked often above, this bottle is more reminiscent of classic Australian Shiraz, than the more typical Rhone-style expressions I see more often in Arizona.
This wine is an older, classy pin-up model who prefers white or red, rather than black stockings, lounging on a black chair, reading Issac Asimov’s Foundation series while sipping port and smoking a meerschaum pipe that is carved in the shape of a pirate’s head. She also affects an Australian accent, though she only lived there for a few years and was actually born elsewhere.
Winery 1912 is the newest tasting room in Sedona, featuring the newest label by winemaker John McLaughlin. It is one of the surprisingly few tasting rooms in Sedona and like sister Tasting Room Cellar 433, is known for incredible views. Winery 1912 made its presence known originally at a few wine festivals, which is where I acquired this bottle of my usual favorite white grape, Malvasia Bianca. (I still have yet to visit the new tasting room, but I’ve been told that the views are spectacular.) The Winery 1912 Malvasia Bianca is a 2014 Vintage.
The Winery 1912 Malvasia Bianca is more of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl compared to other examples of this grape in Arizona.
The Wine: The 2014 Malvasia Bianca from Winery 1912 is, surprise, 100% Malvasia Bianca. The grapes for this vintage come from Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, in the Willcox AVA. The winemaker for this vintage was John McLaughlin. I don’t know anything about the specific winemaking technique for this vintage… but judging by this wine’s fuller mouth-feel than Malvasia vintages which I know were fermented and aged in stainless steel, I suspect this wine saw neutral oak aging. I also suspect this wine has a small amount of residual sugar–no more than 1% or so. This wine is a bright, cheerful sunflower yellow hue–or “Jaune Papillon” on my French color chart.
The Nose: The opening salvo of the nose of the 2014 Malvasia Bianca is filled with intense floral aromas: elderflower, sunflower, jasmine, gardenia, and carnation all make an appearance. Additional notes of lychee, honey, and straw round out the aroma profile of this wine, with just a slight hint of vanilla.
The Palate: The palate of the Winery 1912 Malvasia Bianca also has an intensely floral character, with notes of elderflower, sunflower, white tea, and straw intermingling with starfruit and limestone notes. This vintage is decidedly full-bodied for a Malvasia (though still rather light compared to a Viognier or Chardonnay, of course), with medium acidity. I suspect there is a slight twinge of residual sugar in this wine (no more than 1%; it does taste noticeably sweeter than most other Arizona expressions of this varietal. The finish of this wine lasts for 38 seconds, filled with notes of flint, sugar, sunflowers, and gardenia.
The Pairing: As with most Malvasia Bianca, I want to pair the 2014 vintage from Winery 1912 with spicy food, such as Thai. That being said, as this vintage has a fuller bodied mouthfeel, my instinct is towards pairing this wine with Mexican food… Especially with a green chile chicken enchilada, or even a green chile omelet with brunch.
Impressions: This vintage could age for a few more years (and will benefit from it, with honey notes becoming increasingly prominent), but is drinking pretty well right now as it is. The Winery 1912 Malvasia Bianca is going to be a pretty good introduction to this grape for those unfamiliar with this varietal, especially for those who have a palate which inclines more towards sweet wine than my own.
As for the personification of this wine–like most expressions of Arizona Malvasia, this vintage is a happy-go-lucky crunchy flower-loving hippie with a garden who likes dancing barefoot through the grass while it rains. However, the 2014 Malvasia Bianca does have a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl quality to it–because of that slight hint of residual sugar.
Tempranillo is a grape that seems to do very well in southern Arizona. It is seen as one of the most evocative grapes in our dramatic landscape and seems to do quite well in the heart of the Willcox AVA. Outside of the Willcox AVA, however, not much is known about how well this grape performs in Arizona. This is one reason why I was eager to try out the new estate release from Four Tails Vineyard, the 2016 Short Temper Tempranillo. The other reason was due to just how evocative their first estate Cabernet was. How does Tempranillo stack up in Pearce?
The 2016 Short Temper is 100% Tempranillo from the Four Tails estate vineyard.
The Wine: The 2016 Short Temper is made from 100% Tempranillo from the Four Tails Estate Vineyard in Pearce, Arizona. Made by Gary Kurtz, this wine spent 14 days on the skins, and 14 months in 2-3-year-old French oak barrels. Gary reports that he didn’t do anything to it after inoculation with commercial yeast except for punch downs: “I let the grapes do all the work and I stayed out of the way.” The 2016 Short Temper is named in honor of Dash, the Sky Terrier owned by Barb and Cale Coons, who, while tiny, has a bold attitude. The color of this wine is a dark garnet color, that on my French color chart is listed as “Terre de Feu.”
The Nose: The 2016 Short Temper opens with aromas of fresh, crisp plums, intermingling with notes of cedar, violets, lilac, stewed berries, black cherry, black pepper, anise, dust, granite, rosemary, lavender, and myrrh.
The Palate: This is a big, full-bodied Tempranillo. The 2016 Short Temper explodes onto the palate with jammy plum, black cherries, and big, leathery tannins, intermingling with hints of myrrh, anise, sandalwood, bay leaves, and violets. These big leathery and woody tannins form the backbone of the finish for this wine, intermingling with lavender, cedar, and cherry, lasting for about 45 seconds.
The Pairing: I want to pair this wine with pork chops, served with a side saffron rice and roasted red potatoes. It would also work well with a pork roast, but I also do feel this wine might actually pair well with roast wild duck. For a vegan pairing, serve this wine with a roast mushroom dish, using morels as a base.
Impressions: The 2016 Short Temper Tempranillo (which I keep wanting to type as “short Temper-nillo” for some reason) is more bright and acidic than the typical example of Rioja, though just as tannic. This bright acidity, combined with heavy tannins, should allow this wine to cellar pretty well, for as much as 10 more years. It is a satisfying example of Arizona expressions of this varietal.
In my mind’s eye, this vintage is a woman, dancing in a long red dress to techno rave medieval music. This wine is feminine, vivacious, and exciting.