Wines of the World Class #2
One of the most interesting items I learned in this class was that the Verde Valley was known by the Spaniards as the “Valley of the Grapes”. We have our own local varietal named Vitis Arizonica which is native to Arizona though not a great grape for making wine.
For quality grapes you need a good growing season, and a larger diurnal shift with a gradual temperature change. Soil should be loose and gravely which helps the water to drain. Rocks are good for holding heat, but clay, silt and sand are not the best growing conditions.
Minerals such as nitrogen, magnesium, iron, phosphate, potassium and calcium are also needed to create good wine. Even the PH of a wine plays a part and ranges from 3.0 to 3.6 depending on if it’s white or red.
The latitude, attitude, slope and direction of the slope also affects the quality of the grapes. Those grapes grown on the floor of the Valley tend to be the least expensive since grapes need to struggle to create excellent wines.
I’ve always been mystified with French wine classification, but in this class I learned that if it’s a Burgundy and it’s white, then it’s a Chardonnay and if it’s red well then it’s a Pinot Noir unless it’s a Beaujolais which is a Gamay grape.
In comparing Old World Wines to New World Wines, the Old World wines tend to be food pairing driven, are heavily restricted and labeled according to the place they are grown rather than the varietal.
New World wines have less emphasis on tradition and more on technology. Plus they tend to grow in hotter climates, are more fruit forward, have higher alcohol content and are labeled by the varietal.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.