Though times are looking dark, we can always find the light in a beautiful wine like the 2017 Carlson Creek Chardonnay. I recently had the pleasure of enjoying this wine with a lovely salmon dinner. The salmon’s mustard and dill sauce as well as the spicy Asian-style veggies paired excellently with this bright Chardonnay. This wine had a beautiful pale lemon color with a slight green tinge and an ABV of 12.8%. The nose was prevalent with bosc pear notes and hints of dusty earth. The palate showcased beautiful honeysuckle and mineral notes as well as a crisp acidity. The rich finish came in at 19 seconds.
Though this grape variety originated in the Burgundy region of France, Chardonnay is now produced in almost every wine region around the world. Chablis might be one of the most highly respected Chardonnay wines but great examples can be found from California to New Zealand. A very versatile grape, Chardonnay can range anywhere from a crisp, refreshing white to an oaky, buttery style. In AZ we tend to favor the more crisp whites versus the oaky, buttery style created by a secondary Malolactic fermentation.
Though the world has been feeling a little scary due to recent events, we should always appreciate the small beautiful things in life. Beautiful things like your first nephew’s smile, a Sedona sunset, or a homemade meal and a glass of AZ Chardonnay with the person you love most.
Guest blogger-Mimi Mahl
Viognier is one of Arizona’s star white wine grapes and it has found its way into my heart and soul. Recently I was lucky enough to enjoy the Saeculum Cellars 2018 Viognier and was thrilled by this exquisite Arizona wine. The hue looked to be a pale lemon when poured into a glass and the ABV came in at 14.1%. The nose displayed delicate floral notes of gardenia and hibiscus as well as lemon pith and a nice minerality. The palate was extremely fruity with beautiful flavors of mango, cantaloupe, and hints of limestone. We paired this Wilcox white with a dish coming from a little further away, a Szechwan stir fry! The bright fruit notes of this Viognier contrasted and mellowed the spicy chilies and garlic in this stir fry. It did however complement the natural flavors of sweetness and minerality that Chinese broccoli always seems to contain.
One of the reasons that I think Viognier has taken off in Arizona is due to our success in growing Rhone Valley varieties. This state will always be able to provide potential customers with a large pool of GSM’s to choose from as well as a nice selection of Rhone whites to pick from as well. Arizona is blessed to have a great climate for growing Viogniers that tend to display more fruit and less minerality than its French counterparts. Though I am sure I will be exploring the grape for many years to come, I will often be following the way of Viognier!
Mimi Mahl – Guest Blogger
Upon trying the 2017 Red Storm, I was transported back to the semester that several students and I worked at the Southwest Wine Center on this wine. I remember on the day this wine was blended. I thought it was the best red wine we produced that day. Three years later the quality of this beautiful Storm hasn’t lessened at all. The Red storm exhibits a beautiful garnet color while the nose showcases notes of strawberry and current, (not surprising as the predominate variety in the Red Storm is Grenache). There was a slight green note to the nose as well as hints of dill. The palate was beautifully balanced with flavors of strawberry, rhubarb, and tomato leaf. This wine was balanced but zingy with bright acidity harmonizing with the fruit and herb flavors, a 13.7 ABV, and a lovely 22-second finish.
The Red Storm is over 40% Grenache, but the Tempranillo, Sangiovese, and Mourvèdre also shine through on the palate. Though we paired this blend with a beef stew, I could easily see the Red Storm pairing well with lamb or veal dishes as well as some less-spicy Asian dim sum dishes like beef Bao and pot stickers.
The fact that the wines of the Southwest Wine Center are made by the students of Yavapai College makes some individuals a little wary, however, the wines are incredible! Their award-winning wines have included Gold and Double Gold medal winners at the Jefferson Cup and San Francisco Chronicles Wine competition, and the Best in Show white wine at the AZ Central Grand Wine Competition. The 2017 Red Storm blend is hardly a storm you would want to shelter from. It is the one meteorological event I would welcome into my home anytime!
Guest Blogger, Mimi Mahl
Last year I passed both my CSW, Certified Specialist of Wine and Level 1 Sommelier certifications. Both were an exciting milestone for me. Anyone who knows me or has taken my tours, knows I’m an information junkie and always eager to learn new things. I want to set a new educational goal for this up coming year, but there are so many different directions I’d like to go in. Anyone that studies wine knows that the more you study wine the more you learn that you don’t know anything! Yet there is also a whole world of information regarding beer and spirits.
Since I do many beer tours and combo tours with spirits, I am leaning towards starting the Cicerone certifications or CSS. I wish I had time to do it all, but unless I can clone myself, its not going to happen. Though there are times I’d like to take a break, it just doesn’t seem to be in my DNA. So, lets toast to education and achieving our next milestone.
One of our many superstar red wine grapes in Arizona is Malbec. I had a bottle of the 2017 Carlson Creek Malbec in my collection and thoroughly enjoyed it this past week. This Malbec had a garnet hue in the glass and though only 13.5 % ABV, great legs. The aroma of raspberries, dried cherries, and stewed fruit were most prevalent in the glass. The palate displayed cranberry, raisin, plum, and vanilla. It was nicely balanced and had a finish of about half a minute. This Malbec made me think of cozying up to a warm fire and enjoying a richly flavored glass of velvety smooth wine.
Malbec is probably best known by consumers as an Argentinian grown grape, but it actually originated in the Bordeaux region of France. It is one of only six varieties that is used in Bordeaux red blends. It has been grown in Bordeaux since the time of the Romans and continues to be a favorite with modern day red wine drinkers. In Arizona, it stands tall on its own as a single varietal as well as being used in many red blends.
Though this wine variety is grown from Europe to South America, and beloved worldwide, it loves our Arizona climate and soil, especially in the Kansas settlement area of Wilcox, Arizona where Carlson’s vineyard resides. Malbec, being a more full-bodied wine, tends to pair very well with full bodied foods. Spiced lamb, rich mushroom sauces, cheeses like provolone and blue cheeses, and spices like sage, rosemary, and cumin pair excellently with Malbec. So, when someone asks what red wine I’m having tonight, my answer is often, “Malbec is on deck”!
Mimi Mahl, Guest Blogger
#malbec, #AZwine, #arizonaMalbec, #bordeaux, #wineinArizona, #sedonawinetasting, #sedonawineries, #verdevalleywinetrail, #verdevalleywinecountry, #oldtowncottonwood, #carlsoncreekvineyard, #wilcox
This past week, Arizona winery Deep Sky Vineyard wowed me once more with their 2015 Eclipse. This Malbec and Granache blend was an absolutely incredible wine drinking experience. Its dark purple color invited you to inhale a pleasant aroma of cranberry, raspberry, mocha, and plumb. The palate was rife with exquisite notes of espresso, black cherry, and prune as well. The alcohol percentage though 14.1% was well integrated into the wine and balanced well with the other flavors on the palate. The finish lasted about 23 seconds but it showcased a lovely tannic note that made you want more.
Deep Sky Vineyard usually names their wines for astrological phenomenon such as the Aurora Viognier or the Big Bang Malbec. This inclination to name their wines for such phenomenon, always makes me curious as to why they chose that name and how it will be reflected in the glass. I usually find, after reading the back label that the name does indeed perfectly describe the wine I am enjoying. They claim that at first sip, the Malbec in the Eclipse will cover the Grenache, but like its namesake eventually the Grenache will shine after the initial sip. A better description of this wine could never be found! As someone who works in the wine industry, I have the privilege of trying many unique and wonderful wines. This beautiful blend by Deep Sky thrilled me, as it managed to eclipse most wines in recent memory!
Mimi Mahl-Guest Blogger
#Deepskyvineyards, #2015eclipse, #malbec, #grenache, #azwine, #elginaz, #azwineries, #azwinetrail, #verdevalleywinecountry, #malbec, Verdevalleywinetrail
This past week I had the pleasure of tasting the 2015 Keeling Schaefer FarmersMouvedre. Mouvedre is perhaps a grape that many new to wine have only tasted in a GSM blend, but Arizona is proud of our Mouvedre and we produce many single varietal Mourvedres wines as well as GSMs. The color of this wine was a very dark garnet and had a tantalizing aroma of wood smoke. Other notes in the nose were mesquite, pipe tobacco, sage and plumb. On the palate were delicious flavors of dried cranberries, plumb, cassis, and more wood smoke. The ABV of the 2015 Mourvedre was 14.2% and the finish lasted for about 23 seconds. This Mourvedre was quite bold and once it opened up, showcased extreme complexity.
My mother and I had the good fortune of having opened up a 2015 Spanish Monastrell, (the name for Mouvedre in Spain) the night before and decided to try the two side by side. The Soul Monastrell from Jumilla had won 91 points from James Suckling and was a well-received wine. However, upon tasting the 2015 Soul Monastrell next to the 2015 Keeling Schaefer Mouvedre, the Monastrell seemed a little one-note. The Monastrell was pleasurable drinking, but the one flavor that over powered everything in the wine was, baking vanilla. When compared to the complexity and multitude of flavors the Keeling Schaefer Mouvedre showcased, the Monastrell just seemed like easy drinking. Arizona wine is still a small-production scene. We are walking behind the footsteps of giants when it comes to how MUCH we produce, but we are never dwarfed when it comes to WHAT we are producing!
Mimi Mahl, guest blogger
#mourvedre, #monastrell, #keelingschaefer, #arizonawine, #spanishwine, #GSM, #rhonevarietals, #mimimahl, #farmersmourvedre, #cochisecounty
Arizona produces incredible Malvasia Bianca and last night I was able to enjoy a fabulous Malvasia that was great like its AZ counterparts. The 2018 Laramita Cellars Malvasia Bianca was a magnificent example of the high quality Malvasia that Arizona produces. The nose was rife with notes of stone fruit, elderflower, gardenia, and green apple. The palate also held stone fruit notes as well as hints of lychee, honeydew, and tropical citrus. The flavor was a refreshing, absolute delight to enjoy and though the ABV was 13.8 % the alcohol was well integrated into the wine. The finish lasted about 20 seconds; it came in like a wave of abundant flavor and receded promptly. The 2018 Laramita Malvasia Bianca paired extremely well with the Alaskan Pollock fillet in a white wine, cilantro, and garlic sauce.
Malvasia Bianca is a Mediterranean varietal originally believed to come from the island of Crete, however according to the Swiss grape geneticist, Dr. Jose’ Vouillamoz, the Malvasia Bianca that we grow in Arizona actually has its origins from predominately Italy and California with no Greek origins. Malvasia Bianca is an ancient and well-renowned grape that is even mentioned by the name Malmsey in Shakespeare’s Richard III. Arizona is a noted producer of Malvasia. In fact, if you look up regions that produce Malvasia, Wikipedia does indeed mention AZ, which is a great feat considering our small production tendencies in this State. If you try Arizona Malvasia, I can pretty much guarantee you will be swept away and become biased toward Bianca!
Mimi Mahl, Guest blogger
#Malvasia, #Malvasiabianca, #drjosevouillamoz, #Italiangrapevarieties, #laramitacellars, #AZwine, #Arizonawine, #verdevalleywinetrail, #verdevalleywinecountry, #azwinerocks, #arizonavineyards, #thingstodoinsedona
The 2016 Deep Sky Vineyards Quasar is as unique as its astronomical namesake. The Quasar had a lovely ruby hue and decently defined legs. This 100% Counoise had a bold nose of black cherry, dust, and hints of meatiness. The palate increased the hints of meaty aroma along with notes of green bell pepper, earth, and sour cherry. The finish was smooth and lasted around 21 seconds. The ABV wasn’t too high coming in at 13.9%. This Counoise was vibrant as it opened up in the glass and paired extremely well with the dark chicken, bok choy, and pasta we enjoyed for dinner.
Arizona has a fondness for Rhone varietals both red and white. So it shouldn’t be surprising that AZ has taken to growing Counoise as well as several other reds that originated in the Rhone Valley of France. Counoise is even one of the 18 approved varieties that can be used to make Chateuneuf du Pape. One of my favorite things about Deep Sky Vineyard is its inclination to name their wines after astrological phenomenon, like the Big Bang Mouvedre or the Aurora Viognier. This tendency shows a passion for both great wines and wondrous events in our universe that are far bigger than us! This beautiful Deep Sky Quasar Counoise is as bright and exciting as the flash of light it is named for.
#deepskyvineyard, #Quasar, #Counoise, #azwine, #Chateuneufdupape, #rhonevarietal, #ElginArizona, #CochiseCounty, #uniquewinevarietals
I recently had the pleasure of trying Golden Rule Vineyard’s 2013 Cobra Loma. This beautiful blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Mourvedre checked all the boxes I’m looking for when searching for a complex wine. Its garnet hue had traces of mahogany and the nose was extremely aromatic. Cobra Loma had lovely notes of black cherry, cedar smoke, and anise on the nose, while the palate displayed flavors of raisins, earth, cassis, cocoa, red bell pepper and a 27 second finish. There was so much going on in my glass that catching all the flavors took quite a few sips… well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
When enjoying beef many individuals’ go-to is Cabernet Sauvignon, however I often enjoy Syrah with my steak. I find the meaty quality that many Syrah-dominant wines showcase pairs as well with beef as peanut butter pairs with chocolate. This wine, being predominantly Syrah, paired very well with the beef stew I enjoyed for dinner that night. In the end, I found Golden Rule Vineyard’s Cobra to be quite striking!
Mimi Mahl, Guest Blogger
As we get closer to the winter season, we must all give thought to what wines we want to enjoy as the weather cools. Sangiovese, named for the king of the gods, is also the king of Italian grapes and the grape that makes Chianti. This beautiful red varietal, though of vital importance to the Italian wine market, is starting to make its mark on the Arizona wine industry as well.
I had the pleasure of trying the 2016 Sangiovese from Flying Leap Vineyards and was delighted by the rustic aromas coming off the wine. Its earthy nose balanced well with the bright cherry and juicy plumb notes that arose from my glass. The soft palate was rife with fresh red berries that complemented the cedar and baking spices that the wine displayed. The 30-second finish was substantial without being over-long. All the flavors this wine displayed swept me away with thoughts of Tuscan soils and Arizona sunshine. This Sangiovese would pair excellently with a Caprese Salad as an appetizer or Spaghetti Bolognese as a main course. If you are looking for a wine that will warm you this upcoming winter, the Flying Leap Sangiovese will keep your thoughts off the cold!
Sangiovese, the main grape in an Italian Chianti wine, is being grown in many locations in Arizona including the Wilcox AVA. The 2014 Sangiovese from Zapara Vineyard in Wilcox received a rating of 87 points from Wine Spectator and a Silver Medal at the San Francisco Chronicles Wine Competition!
This dry red wine has a beautiful garnet color and the nose offers lovely aromas of black cherry, cinnamon, currants and strawberry. The palate showcases additional flavors of mild oak, cedar, chocolate and pipe tobacco. The finish comes in at around 22 seconds. 90 cases of this Sangiovese were produced, and it has a high alcohol content of 15.6 % ABV. I recommend decanting it to bring out additional subtle flavors. It paired well with my chicken cacciatore.
Sample a little bit of Italy in Arizona with the Zapara Sangiovese for around $24.
#ZaparaVineyards, #Chianti, #Sangiovese, #ArizonaWine, #WilcoxAVA, #sanfranciscochronicleswinecompetition, #winespectator, #azredwine, #Arizonavineyards
Many people have had the opportunity to try delicious wine varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, or Viognier, but how often do you have the opportunity to sample the grapes they are made from? One of the advantages of having a local wine college which teaches enology (the study of making wine) and viticulture (the study of growing the vines), is sampling local wine grape varieties during harvest time. When I visit the Southwest Wine Center during harvest and my wine tour guests sample the wine grapes, they are amazed at the delicious fruit! It also astonishes them how different the grapes taste from the wine. Our Wine College grows a variety of unique wine grapes including Refosco, Malvasia Bianca, Tannat, Piquepoul Blanc, Viognier and Barbera. It’s a wonderful time of year to be in Arizona and have the chance to sample our local wine grapes.
#winegrapes, #verdevalleywinetrail, #enology, #viticulture, #azwwine, #arizonawinegrapes, #malvasiabianca, #viognier, #Tannat, #Piquepoul Blanc, #Refosco, #barbera, #southwestwinecenter
One of the newer vineyards in the Kansas Settlement of Wilcox, Arizona is Birds and Barrels; founded in 2015 by Chad and Monica Preston. The goal at Birds and Barrels is to “produce high-quality, hand-crafted wine.” One of their early releases was a 2016 Petit Verdot with a beautiful deep garnet color. The nose on their 2016 Petit Verde showcased lovely aromas of currant, earth black cherry and raspberry. On the palate there were additional notes of spice, blueberry, plum, chocolate and cedar. This dry red wine had a medium to full body with a 25 second finish. The wine had 13.4% alcohol by volume. Petit Verdot is used in Bordeaux, France primarily as a minor blending grape and it ripens late. It grows exceptionally well in Arizona since it has the ability to ripen fully and is fast becoming one of my Arizona favorite grape varieties. If you’re in the Wilcox Bench area, stop by and sip delicious wine on their beautiful patio.
#birdsandbarrels, #petitverdot, #bordeaux, #kansassettlement, #wilcoxarizona, #wilcoxbench, #ArizonaWine, #Arizonavineyards, #WilcoxAVA, #wilcoxwinery
I just love Mourvèdre, which is used as a blending grape in Southern Rhone and known as Monastrell in Spain. I seek out different vintages and winemakers both from Arizona and across the world. Arizona Mourvèdres typically have strong pepper notes, however the Keeling Schaefer 2014 Mourvèdre was different from many of Arizona’s Mourvèdres and others they produce. These grapes are grown in Southern Arizona at a 5000 foot elevation in their Rock Creek Vineyard by the Chiricahua Mountains, (one of my favorite hiking areas in Arizona with gorgeous blue spruce trees!) This 100% Mourvèdre had a beautiful garnet color with a touch of mahogany. The nose showcased lovely notes of plum, prune, earth and spirits. The palate offered additional notes of cassis, raisin, chocolate and baking spices, but surprisingly, not the usual pepper notes you’d expect from an Arizona Mourvèdre. This delicious dry red wine from Cochise County, was complex with a medium body and had a finish of around 18 seconds. It had 15.4% ABV, was very food friendly and thoroughly enjoyable! You don’t have to keel over to try this delightful Arizona wine; their wines are available at many locations across the state including their tasting room in downtown Wilcox!
#keelingSchaefer, #mourvedre, #monastrell, #Mataro, #Arizonawine, #ArizonaMourvedre, #ChiricahuaMountains, #RockCreekVineyard, #CochiseCounty, #WillcoxArizona, #PearceArizona, #SouthernRhone, #Spain
Sue Schurgin, CSW, (Certified Specialist of Wine) is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She loves education and is also a Level 1 Sommelier.