Last night my daughter created a delicious beef kabob dinner that I felt would go well with a Cabernet. Rummaging through my wine cooler, I came across a Charles and Charles 2014 Cabernet-Syrah blend. The wine showcased Ruby/Garnet colors with an earthy must smell prior to swirling. It was nice and dry with notes of cherry, strawberry, blackberry, plum, oak, chocolate and coffee. The alcohol was forward on the noise and had a medium to full body with a 9 second finish. It contained 13.5% alcohol with around 75% Cabernet and 25% Syrah. Wine Enthusiast gave it 91 points. This was a great value since I purchased it at Costco for under $10. So if you can still find it there or elsewhere at around the same price, I’d recommend buying it.
Though my primary business is doing wine tours, microbrewery tours and deliveries, there are times when I get a request to do a special local archeological and museum tour. Such was the case this week when I had the opportunity to travel to two wonderful archeological sites and the Copper Art Museum. I’ve always loved archeology and anthropology. In fact, I even worked on a dig for 3 months in Israel! That was way before their wine industry took flight.
Our first stop was Montezuma’s Castle. I remember as a child being able to go up into the ruins. Of course all that has changed to protect the antiquities. It had been a year since I’d been to the ruins and was pleased to see how nicely they continue to be maintained. It’s amazing how the Sinagua Indians adapted to their apartments up in the sky. There must have been human predators for the Indians to build their home so high up. This time of the year, the river below was rushing full speed due to our inclement weather. According to our tour docent, the women were the builders and farmers while the men were out on very long hunts. Some of their food preservation techniques are still used today by local tribes.
At Tuzigoot, our next stop, you get a magnificent 360 degree view of the Verde Valley. Both locations showcase interesting museums with the jewelry, pottery and tools they created.
Our last stop was the Copper Art Museum in Clarkdale. This is one of my favorite museums in the country. The attention to detail and educational information is just amazing! They have an extensive collections of drinking vessels, cooking utensils, art work, candy molds, armaments and even cognac stills. Anything you might want to know about copper is in the museum. There’s a reason Arizona is called the Copper State. Copper is found in our oceans, wine, foods, and even in our blood. It is a beautiful and versatile element and I’d highly recommend visiting this museum to learn more. Even though I love my wine and beer tours, I especially love the variety of a local archeological tour.
Last night was my first class in Wines of the World at Yavapai College. Though I’ve taken many wine tasting classes over the years, I was impressed at the presentation on how to taste wine. For most of us, our immediate reaction is to swirl the wine to get that first whiff of aroma, prior to even looking at the color, legs and density. However, Paula’s approach is to first observe the color and viscosity, next to smell prior to swirling, then swirl, smell again and then finally taste and to leave it in your mouth for around 3-5 seconds. I’ve never spent so much time studying an individual wine!
We started off tasting the 2014 Lenz Moser, Gruner Veltliner, from Krems, Austria. This is the #1 grape varietal grown in Austria and was my first experience tasting it. It had a light straw color with a green tinge, and hints of citrusy lemon, pear, minerals, quince with a tad of sparkle. It was well balanced and dry with 12% alcohol, a little higher in acid and no oak. Would pair well with green vegetables like asparagus. You could even add a little to your salad dressing to help with pairing. I’d definitely recommend this wine, especially since it’s under $15.
Next on the list was the 2014 Priest Ranch, Granache Blanc from Napa Valley, CA. Weighing in at 14.3% alcohol, it had a pale straw color with a light green tinge, showcasing mineral, honeysuckle, and stone fruit. It had a very short finish, and just wasn’t well balanced. This was my least favorite of the evening.
We moved onto the reds and tried the 2011 Vina Real, Reserva, Rioja, Spain. I’m a big fan of Rioja wines. This one has 90% Tempranillo, with the remaining 10% in Grenache, Graciano and Mazuelo. It had a garnet/dark ruby color with notes of plum, rose, earth, oak and black licorice. This medium bodied + wine has 13% alcohol, some tannins, was well balanced, spent a few years in oak and could age a bit more. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it.
Our last wine for the evening was the Trapiche 2014 Broquel, Malbec from Medonza, Argentina. For those of you that have read my blog, you know I’ve spent some time in Mendoza. I enjoyed visiting Trapiche and had a delicious wine paired lunch. The interesting architecture at the winery is a combination of classic and modern buildings with very large grounds. The photo above shows their viewing room where you watch a video about the winery.
The 2014 Broquel Malbec did not disappoint. It displayed a lovely rich purple/black color with an alcohol content of 14.5%. It showcased some dark fruits, violet, minerals and pepper. I’d recommend it for your BBQ’s. Argentina has one of the highest diurnal shifts of any wine growing area. Like Argentina, Arizona also has huge diurnal shifts in our vineyard areas.
Prior to our wine tasting Paula presented a history of wine making. Can you imagine, cave people discovered fermentation around 2 million years ago?
This class is an excellent adjunct to my sommelier course however, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting my CSW instead or maybe both. Time will tell.
Many of my customers enjoy dry red wines and luckily for them we have some amazing red wines in our state. However, when they come to Arizona, I love to expand their horizon to something a little different…our Malvasia Bianca. Malvasia is a prominent family of Mediterranean grapes which grow quite well in Arizona. It’s a major varietal in Italy and supposedly has its roots in Crete. Malvasia Bianca can showcase notes of tropical fruit, cinnamon, peach, jasmine and the list goes on. So I added a lateral Malvasia Bianca tasting to a tour. Our first stop was the Art of Wine where they sampled the 2015 Bodega Pierce. Recently, in the 2016 Arizona Republic Wine Competition, Bodega Pierce won the best Malvasia Bianca for their 2015 release. Our next stop was Page Springs which has a 100% Malvasia Bianca. Page Springs also used 89% Malvasia Bianca in their 2015 Vino de La Familia Blanca. Our last stop was Pillsbury, which won a Bronze medal at the San Francisco Wine Chronicle competition for their 2014 Malvasia Bianca. Since our Malvasias vary quite a bit from year to year, I’m sure they would have enjoyed a vertical tasting of each vineyard’s Malvasia Bianca, but alas, there just wasn’t time. Which one did they like best? Sorry that’s a secret, but I will say their horizons were expanded and they even bought a bottle.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours and is studying for her CSW and sommelier certificates.