Last night I tried a Furmint from Tokaj, Hungary. Furmint is an indigenous white grape that is not seen much beyond Hungary, Austria and Eastern Europe. The 2016 Evolucio had a very light pale color and was bottled with a screw top. The nose had lovely stone fruit aromas plus lychee and minerals. The palate was velvety showcasing notes of peach, apricot, green grass, minerals and mouthwatering acidity. It was medium bodied, had a nice long finish at around 40 seconds, and offered additional flavors of pepper and honeysuckle towards the end. This complex dry wine had a fruity nose, which might cause you to think its sweet. Try pairing this Furmint with sushi, salad and chicken. The alcohol content is 11.5% and at around $11 per bottle is an excellent value.
The Southwest Wine Center made a mead for the first time. One of the YC enology students was interested in how to make mead, so the director of the program said, why not? They ended up creating a Morat, which is a mulberry mead and falls under the category of a melomel, a fruit based mead. Two types of mead were created, a still version, and a sparkling version created with carbonation added. The Morat was created with 100% Arizona Desert Wild Flower Honey from Northern Arizona and Mulberry Juice. This off-dry mead was fermented in stainless steel, aged in Neutral American Oak, has 12% alcohol, and 1.5 % residual sugar. It has a light cranberry rose color, a delicious flavor and reminded me a tad of Kool-Aid. I was partial to the carbonated version. They suggest pairing it with salty and fatty foods such as aged parmesan cheese, noodles in a butter sauce or Manchego cheese. When exploring honey-based wines, lead with this mead!
Last week I had the opportunity to spend 3 days in Temecula doing wine tasting. It had been over 20 years since I’d been in the area and I heard good things about their wines recently. Though I found a few good wineries, I was shocked at the quality of many of the wines I tried. At a famous winery, one of their wines had distinct aromas of Ethyl Acetate. (That’s a wine fault caused by a bacteria that smells like nail polish remover). Another wine was absolutely oxidized, and the server said well I’m not wild about the taste of this wine. It was so surprising that their staff was not trained to recognize wine faults.
Many of my guests are shocked that we grow grapes in Arizona, yet it was interesting that the Temecula temperature was hotter than the Verde Valley! Unfortunately, they haven’t planted many hot weather varieties of grapes that would grow well in the region. Though I love Central coast and the North Coast AVA’s of California, Temecula has not found its niche. It needs stop trying to emulate the other parts of California and start producing unique wine varietals that will do well in their area. Though Arizona is still in its infancy in terms of wine production, I feel that our wines Rock in comparison and good times are ahead of us!
Malvasia Bianca is one of Arizona’s star white grapes! Its origins are from the island of Crete, which is on a similar latitude to Arizona. It is planted in many areas of Italy and in Portugal is used in Madera Wines. This week, I had the opportunity to try the 2015 Malvasia Bianca from a new Verde Valley Winery in Camp Verde, called Salt Mine Winery.
The color was a pale lemon-straw and the wine had a light to medium body. The nose had Intense floral and tropical notes with a tad of lychee. Aromas of honeysuckle carried on into the palate. The palate was more subtle with notes of stone fruit such as apricot, and hints of lime. It had a nice crisp acidity. The finish was around 20 seconds and the wine had 13.9% alcohol. This refreshing white varietal is one of my favorite stars!
I frequently talk about our award-winning meads in Arizona. The question is: What exactly is Mead? Well at its most basic level it is honey, water and yeast and is one of the oldest fermented beverages in the world. Two locations in the Verde Valley feature the Mazer Cup award winning meads from Superstition Meadery. Our wine college also just created a dry mead, which I have not had the opportunity to sample. You’ll find meads from very dry to very sweet. Though I tend to like dry wines, I’m enamored with the delicious sweet meads from Superstition. They create unique flavors such as Tahitian Honeymoon-vanilla, Hera’s Orchard-apricot peach, Desert Monsoon-prickly pear, Marion Berry, and Peanut Butter and Jelly. So try an Arizona mead and you’ll be talking about it too!
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.