To celebrate National Wine Day (there is also a National Wine Drinking Day), I decided to list many of the wine grape varieties we are now growing in Arizona. The list is extensive and by no means complete. So here we go:
Aglianico, Albarino, Aleatico, Alicante Bouschet, Arinarnoa, Arneis, Assyrtiko, Barbera, Blaufrankisch, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonel, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Counoise, Dolcetto, Graciano, Grenache, Gros Verdot, Lulienga, Malbec Bianca, Malvasia, Marsanne, Marselan, Merlot, Mission, Montepulciano, Mourvedre, Muscat Canelli, Muscat of Alexandria, Nebbiolo, Negroamaro, Petit Manseng, Petit Sirah, Petit Verdot, Picpoul, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Refosco, Riesling, Roussane, Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Souzao, Symphony, Syrah, Tannat, Tempranillo, Verdelho, Vermentino, Vidal Blanc, Viognier, Vranac, and Zinfandel.
Enjoy National Wine Day and I hope you get to try many Arizona wines and our unique wine varietals.
Viognier originates from the Northern Rhone Valley in France and has been gaining popularity worldwide in the last few decades. It is also the state signature grape of Virginia. However, an Arizona Viognier from Chateau Tumbleweed just won the top award in the Country for Viognier at the San Francisco Chronicles Wine Competition!
Arizona has a wonderful variety of Viognier and today I’m reviewing the 2017 Viognier from Clear Creek Vineyards in Camp Verde. Clear Creek recently won the Yavapai County SBDC 2018 Success Award.
All grapes used in Clear Creek wines are grown on their property. They utilize organic practices and do not filter or fine their wines. Many winemakers feel that by filtering or fining the wines, you strip various flavors out of the wine.
The wine color is a lemony apricot and being unfiltered, reminds me of many Old-World Wines. There is also a minuscule amount of effervescence. This Viognier has a subtle honeydew nose with lovely flavors of apricot, white peach, hazelnut and cantaloupe on the palate. It offers very smooth drinking and was lower in acidity than I expected. The alcohol content is 13.2% and the finish is around 22 seconds. It will pair nicely with chicken salad, a bold salmon or Mahi Mahi. I thoroughly enjoyed it with my grilled salmon.
You don’t need to travel to the Northern Rhone Valley to experience Viognier, since we have excellent ones in Arizona!
Our tours offer you the finest experience in wine and beer tasting in Sedona and the Verde Valley. So remember, when choosing a quality, private, customized wine and or microbrewery tour:
Sauvignon Blanc, is sometimes referred to as the “savage” white (derived from the French translation). Hailing originally from Bordeaux, France, it is also renowned in the Loire Valley in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume and is one of the Noble varieties. Now it’s grown around the world from South Africa to Chile and the USA to New Zealand, though New Zealand is where you’ll taste the very distinctive gooseberry notes. Sauvignon Blanc is also one of the parent varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon.
This week, I had the good fortune to try the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from Javelina Leap. The wine has a lovely clear, pale straw color and an alcohol content of 14%. The nose opened with aromas of Kiwi and offered hints of mandarin and lychee. The palate had mouthwatering, refreshing acidity with notes of white peach, kiwi and dried pineapple. The finish was around 24 seconds and paired beautifully with my chicken and asparagus dish. This wine will be ideal for the hot summer months to come. It’s sure to tame the Savage Blanc within.
A cork made from sugar cane? Yes! These are plant-based synthetic corks made from non-GMO sugar cane and are manufactured by the Nomacorc company in Brazil. The manufacture has developed these as a natural cork alternative and states they offer a zero-carbon footprint. They also reference them to be 100% recyclable and have consistent oxygen control. They have a look and feel similar to synthetic cork.
These new innovative corks are now in use at the Southwest Wine Center in the 2017 Viognier and their 100% Malvasia. The college is also using them in the new Passport, a Viognier and Malvasia blend and expects to use them in and all of the 2017 whites to be bottled.
These corks as a choice of bottle closure are another addition to the mission of ecology and sustainability that is a major goal at Yavapai College.
The Southwest Wine Center is an adaptive reuse project, which is a process that adapts buildings for new uses while retaining their original features. The building where the tasting room, fermentation, aging and bottling are done was formerly a racquet ball court! One goal of their project is to use 50% less power than an average Arizona home. Their roof also collects rain water for irrigation and other uses. When I take my private wine tours to the facility, I love pointing out the rock walls, which were created utilizing rocks cleared out from the vineyard land.
The corks are currently being used on just the white wines. It will be interesting to see how this newer material will maintain the wines while supporting our environment.
Zinfandel is one of my favorite grape varieties! It is known by many names including Primativo in Italy and Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag in Croatia. I recently tried the 2015 Legacy Zinfandel from Javelina Leap Vineyard and Winery. This 100% Estate Zinfandel won Silver Medals at both the San Francisco Chronicles 2017 Wine Competition and the 2017 Arizona Republic Wine Competition. In 2013 and 2014 they won Gold Medals at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition. The vines were planted in 2005 on the slope of an extinct volcano on their property. Their Estate Zin is always one I recommend to my guests to try on a visit to their winery or remote tasting room in Sedona.
This dry, medium bodied wine has a lovely nose with Black Cherry and prune notes. The palate offers delicious flavors of blackberry, cassis, vanilla and current. The finish is delightfully smooth and consistent and runs around 30 seconds. The alcohol content is 15%. So, if you’re looking for an Arizona Zinfandel, this is definitely an excellent choice!
This week I had the opportunity to try an Arizona, award winning Malbec. Malbec, is one of the original blending grapes for a classic Bordeaux blend. Currently, it is a signature red grape of Argentina where it thrives. The Passion Cellars, 2015 Malbec, by Salvatore Vineyards, won Bronze medals at both the 2018 Arizona Republic Wine Competition and the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. It is produced and bottled at Passion Cellars, Cochise, County in Wilcox and has 13.9% alcohol.
The nose had aromas of Blueberries, dates and prunes, while the palate showcased additional notes of mocha, strawberries, blueberries and plum. The color was a lovely Purple and Garnet combination. It was not too tannic with some light, crisp acidity and was lighter in body than most Argentinian Malbec’s I’ve had. The finish came in at around 22 seconds. It paired beautifully with the cilantro Chimichurri chicken I had for dinner. At under $30, it’s definitely on my cellar list.
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Wednesday night was a fabulous Local First Arizona Event in Old Town Cottonwood at the State Bar. The State Bar was pouring some excellent Arizona wines including the Southwest Wine Center Monsoon, Sand Reckoner R and Page Springs, Mules Mistake. They have a fabulous outdoor patio and serve Arizona Wine, Beers and Mead. Small Batch winery which is right next door, is a unique company that has a excellent wine inventory and creates special wine events. They were pouring a bourbon barrel aged Chardonnay and a Red Blend from Beringer. In addition to these two wonderful businesses, one of the largest Vineyards in Arizona, Carlson Creek, had their winemaker pouring their Rule of three, GSM blend, of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. We are all very excited because Carlson Creek is moving into the space where Firemountain Winery was. They will be remodeling the interior and will be a new addition to the tasting rooms in Old Town, hopefully by sometime in July. Food was supplied by Little Moos which has a nice selection of gluten free options also.
The Verde Valley is home to a winery that utilizes all organic practices. One of the fun experiences about visiting this winery is hearing the geese cackle and seeing all of the critters that roam through the vineyard. Clear Creek Vineyards has a multitude of cats that chase after and eat gophers. Gophers can be very destructive to the vines root systems. My daughter has had to set many a gopher trap at the Yavapai College vineyard and finds it depressing to clean out the traps of the dead animals. That’s why utilizing the cats is a wonderful solution. They are well fed and solve the gopher problem!
The geese and chickens love eating insects which may be harmful to the vines and their droppings add natural fertilizer to the soil. The snakes love rodents and insects also. Therefore, it’s wonderful to see an alternative solution to utilizing chemicals and experience the sounds and sights of the animals.
While studying Italy, I discovered a white wine from the Veneto region that I thoroughly enjoyed. The Veneto region is known for whites, reds and Prosecco. The 2016 Anselmi San Vincenzo, IGT is composed of 80% Garganega, 10% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon blanc. Garganega is the main white grape of the Veneto region. The wine comes from the Monteforte d’Alpone area which is between Verona and Vincenza.
The color was a pale gold and the nose was beautifully scented with notes of lychee, gooseberry, honeysuckle and lemon. In addition, this dry, refreshing wine, had lovely flavors of almond, earthy minerals and hazelnut on the palate. The wine is moderately complex with 12.5% alcohol, a medium body, and medium acidity. The finish was quite nice at around 30 seconds. I paired it with grilled salmon and salad and it complemented both. At around $15, I’d definitely recommend it.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.