Though I captain a Honda instead of the Enterprise, the opportunity to explore unique, indigenous grape varieties is one of the highlights of my business. Falanghina is a white grape variety that I experienced again this week. Though the name is strange, it’s not a grape from another planet! The Falanghina grape is grown in Southern Italy in Campagna and Molise, Italy. This time I tried the 2017 Falanghina Feudi di San Gregorio, DOC, Estate bottled in Sorbo Serpico in Campagna.
This beautiful, dry white wine had a lovely nose of stone fruit, mostly pear, with melon and some red grapefruit. The palate expanded to add tropical fruits such as pineapple and kiwi. There were also inviting flavors of minerals and grass. It exhibited a nice soft mouth feel and was light to medium in body. This grape is grown in volcanic soil much like some of our top wines in Arizona. It was nicely balanced, had 13% alcohol by volume and the finish lasted around 23 seconds. This Falanghina paired nicely with my chicken and I feel that it would also pair well with fish or pasta. While seeking out new wines and new varietals, I discovered this wine at the Art of Wine, and luckily, I didn’t have to barter with the Ferengi to acquire it!
I’m a big fan of Zinfandel, otherwise known as Primativo in Southern Italy and Tribidrag in Croatia. So, I’m always looking for a delicious Zin. One of my favorite stops on my Wilcox wine tour this month was Golden Rule Vineyards. I bought their 2015 Zinfandel, plus many other wines. The GRV Zinfandel is one of the most complex I‘ve sampled in a long time. The color was a lovely garnet with purple overtones. The nose had luscious aromas of bright cherry, raspberry, blackberry almond, and chocolate. On the palate I discovered additional flavors of dark cherry, current, mocha, oak, vanilla, earth and licorice, all of which blended together to create an extremely delicious wine. The finish was around 21 seconds, and I wished it would have gone on forever! The Alcohol by volume was 16.6 %.
I had some left over the next night (can you believe it!) and was surprised at how delicious the wine was the next day. If you’re looking for a wonderful Zinfandel, you don’t have to travel to Italy or Croatia, for we have some fabulous ones right here in Arizona.
Grenache is a grape variety that does extremely well in Arizona. I frequently direct Pinot Noir lovers to try our Arizona Grenache. Grenache or Garnacha as it is called in Spain, is renowned in Rioja, Spain and the Rhone Valley of France. It also grows extensively in the United State and Australia. It is frequently used as a blending grape with Syrah and Mourvedre. However, you’ll frequently find it is a wonderful single varietal wine in Arizona.
I bought a bottle of the Keeling Schaefer 2016 Two Reds Grenache on my Wilcox trip, a blend of 92% Grenache and 8 % Syrah. The color was a beautiful Ruby Rose. It showcased luscious aromas of dark cherry, oak, smoke and melon. The palate had a delightful velvety feel with additional flavors of strawberry, raspberry and pepper. The finish was around 16 seconds. The winemakers also note additional flavors of sage, prickly pear and incense. The wine has 14.2% alcohol and is one of my favorite Grenaches in the state and 319 cases were produced. At under $20 a bottle, it’s a real steal! If you’re a Pinot Noir lover, it’s time to give this Grenache a try.
One of my favorite grape varieties grown in Arizona is Graciano. Graciano was originally from Spain, but can be found in Languedoc-Roussillon in France, Italy, Portugal and many of New World areas including Australia, South America, California, Oregon and Arizona. It has historically been used as a blending grape, however, you’ll find many Arizona winemakers offer a single variety Graciano.
While recently exploring our Southern Arizona Vineyards and remote tasting rooms in Wilcox, Arizona, I came across the Aridus 2016 Graciano from Cochise County. The nose displayed lovely aromas of cherry, cocoa and mocha. The palate had additional flavors of dark cherry, raisin, cranberry, spice, cedar and minerals. This dry red, complex wine, had a medium body with low to medium acidity, and a lingering finish at around 35 seconds. The alcohol content was 14.4%. The wine should be able to age for an additional 5 years. You don’t have to travel all the way to Spain to experience a lovely Graciano… AZ has its Spanish roots covered!
Anyone who knows me, knows that Malvasia Bianca is one of my favorite wine varietals. I had a wonderful tour of Page Springs Cellars and was able to purchase their 2016 Malvasia Bianca which was grown on their Dos Padres Vineyard in Yavapai County. 55 cases of this lovely wine were produced.
The color was a pale lemon and the wine had 14.1% ABV. The nose had delightful aromas of Lychee, honeydew melon, mango and honeysuckle, while the palate offered additional flavors of papaya, minerals and grass. I enjoyed this dry medium bodied wine which had a finish at around 15 seconds. It presented pleasant aromas and flavors and was not overpowering as many Malvasias could have been with my spicy, mustard and honey salmon!
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.