While on a wine tour of our Viticulture and Enology program at the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College, in Clarkdale, Arizona, my guests and I were amazed to learn that this teaching winery is contemplating utilizing a sugar cane cork for some of their rose’ and white wines.
What is a sugar cane cork? They are plant-based synthetic corks made from non-GMO sugar cane and are manufactured by the Nomacorc company in Brazil. These corks are marketed as 100% recyclable with zero carbon footprint and consistent oxygen control. I personally haven’t seen one yet, but they are reported to have a similar appearance to natural cork.
Sustainability is a driving force for many of the vineyards and winemakers in Arizona, and the choice of wine bottle closures is no exception.
Substitutions for natural cork have been going on for quite a few years and we’ve seen movement towards synthetic corks and metal screw tops, both of which are not the best choice for sustainability and our environment.
It will be interesting to see how these new corks will be received and how this newer material will maintain and age the wines, prevent TCA, and impact sustainability.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, easy drinking red then the Bolla, Rosso Veronese 2013 is a good choice for under $10. This IGT (Indicasione Geografica Tipica, the category above table wines in Italy) was clear with a Ruby-Garnet color and had 12.5% alcohol. According to their tech sheet, the grapes used were Corvina, Rondinella, Merlot and Cabernet. The nose displayed aromas of earth, cherry and alcohol, the later of which blew off after being opened for around 10 minutes. It had a medium body with low tannins and the flavor showcased notes of cherry, plum, black fruit, cinnamon and vanilla. The finish however was quite short at around 15 seconds. It paired nicely with my chicken stir fry but, would also accompany mature cheeses and meats beautifully.
Over 75% of wine grapes grown in Arizona come from the Wilcox and Sonoita area. When traveling through Sedona and the Verde Valley, you’ll find grapes growing in Page Springs, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Clarkdale the Village of Oak Creek and Jerome, yet no commercial wineries exist in Sedona. It’s interesting to note, that the first commercial vineyard in Arizona was just outside of Sedona. The owner of Red Rock Winery, Henry Schuerman, a baker from Germany and his wife Dorette had 76 acres under vine close to Sedona. They planted Zinfandel and supplied miners and other locals with their single varietal wine. Unfortunately, Schuerman was arrested during Prohibition and lost his vines as Oak creek changed it’s course and ruined the vineyard, with few vines surviving.
It took until the 1970’s for the Arizona wine industry to reboot again and it’s growing almost exponentially in both the Northern and Southern parts of the State. Winning the “Best in Show” at the San Francisco Chronicles wine competition in both Viognier and Montepulciano, along with multiple Gold and Double Gold Medals, Arizona can be very proud of our growth. achievements and delicious wine.
The Verde Valley Wine Consortium has been working hard on our AVA (American Viticulture Area) paperwork. The new AVA will include business operations within the Verde Valley and when approved will become the 3rd AVA in Arizona. The two other AVA’s in Arizona are Sonoita and Wilcox.
The Verde Valley Wine Consortium had its first meeting in June of 2008 and published its articles of incorporation on January 7, 2011. They have been diligently working to remove antiquated laws off of our State books. As they move forward in procuring our AVA, the by-laws have been updated to be more specific as to what is referred to as Verde Valley Wine. They have been working with the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce in developing our Verde Valley Wine Trail site. We have so many wonderful vineyards and remote tasting rooms along our Verde Valley Wine Trail, which we hope visitors will visit when in Sedona and the Verde Valley.
Sedona Wine and Beer Tours by Sedona Delivers, LLC is pleased to be a member of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium.
As I continue to explore the Loire Valley region in France, I thought I’d try another Vouvray or Chenin Blanc. Vouvray comes from the Touraine area of the Loire Valley, North of the Loire River. Chenin Blanc is an extremely versatile wine which can be made from dry to sweet and sparkling. I chose the Maison Alphonse Chotard, 2016 Vouvray. This AOC wine (the highest category of the French rating system) was purchased at Trader Joes and had 11.5%.
The color was a clear lemon, pale straw.
The aroma was clean with no off odors and was fruity with notes of honeysuckle.
The palate was off dry to medium in sweetness, with low acidity and had a medium body. It presented fruity notes with honeysuckle, apricots, citrus and honey.
It finished at around 26 seconds, a little shorter than other Vouvray’s I’ve tried.
Pairing and Comments
It paired easily with a sweetened, marinated Tuna Steak I created. The pairing took down a little of the sweetness of the wine. It was easy drinking, but I prefer a dryer Chenin overall. But for $8, it’s a pleasant wine.
If you like spicy Middle Eastern Food, finding a good wine to pair with it is not always easy. Last night I created a middle eastern chicken dish with a specialized blend of cumin, turmeric, cardamom and many more spices. I choose the Perelada Brut Reserva Cava to go with it. This Spanish, sparkling white brut was made with 45% Xarel-lo, 30% Macabeo, and 25% Parellada, was 11.5% alcohol by volume and aged for a minimum of 15 months.
The color was a pale gold. The nose had lovely aromas of lime and other citrus aromas. The palate also had some lime, stone fruit, peach and mandarin and was acidic when drunk on its own. However, when paired with the food it was smoother and was an excellent choice for the dish. This non-vintage, dry Brut had lovely small bubbles which lasted throughout dinner, and the finish came in at around 22 seconds. At around $15 it’s definitely worth it.
My daughter made an amazing Chinese Dim Sum dinner last night and we decided to pair it with a sparkling Rose’; the Schloss Bierbrich, Rose’ Sekt from Germany. The Germans really love sparkling wine and are the largest consumers of it in Europe, though they are only the third largest producer of sparkling wines globally.
The designation Sekt Troken in a sparkling wine is different than in a still wine. In a sparkling wine it’s not dry but more of an off dry. The wine’s nose had earthy, mineralistic notes to it and the palate showcased notes of honey, honeysuckle, and pear with a smooth mouth feel. This non-vintage, sparkling wine is a combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (known as Spatburgunder in Germany) and had 11% alcohol. The finish came in at around 30 seconds and the wine retained lovely bubbles during our dinner.
It was interesting to note how the palate was semi-sweet when drunk by itself, but when paired with our salty and spicy Dim Sum it appeared to drink quite dry. It’s a great buy at Trader Joes for under $10.
Sparkling wines have been around for ages, evolving over the years. The Classic Method or Traditional method of creating sparkling wines is used around the world. But the Term Champagne is used only in the area of Champagne, France with a few exceptions. Even other areas of France do not used the Term Champagne!
In the Champagne area, they use Chardonay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. However, each area of the world uses different grapes for making their sparkling wines, from Parellada, Xarel-lo, Macabeo used in Spain’s Cavas to Glera and Muscat used in Italy’s Prosecco or Shiraz used in Australia. There are many methods of creating sparkling wines including adding carbon dioxide in less expensive wines. Though the English first figured out how to recreate sparkling wines in the 1600’s, the French perfected it!
What ever you choose, we wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
I bought an amazing rib eye steak and thought about what I’d like to pair it with. I rummaged through my wine cooler and found a 2014 Chateau Tumbleweed, 100% Syrah from Cimarron Vineyard.
One of the most outstanding things that Chateau Tumbleweed does, is put everything you wanted to know about a wine on their bottle labels. The wine was harvested on September 3rd and was grown at an elevation of 4300 feet. The wine was cold-soaked for 24 hours, punched down by hand 3-4 times daily and stayed on the skins for 11 days. It went through malolactic fermentation and was aged for 11 months in 20% new French oak. It was also unfined/unfiltered and came in at 15% alcohol.
The color was a deep garnet purple. The nose reflected notes of earth, prune and alcohol. The palate showcased flavors of mocha, raspberry, currant, chalk, and dates. I ended up aerating it to bring out more of the flavors. The wine though three years old could easily lay down for a few more years. Clearly this wine has an impressive ageability. Oh Arizona Syrah!
This week we celebrated National Sangria Day on December 20th, 2017. Sangria is a delicious, refreshing drink, in the summer but still very enjoyable in the winter. This drink is a combination of red or white wine with club soda, brandy, sugar and fruit . It originated in Spain and there are a large variety of recipes.
This is one of my favorite Sangria recipes using red wine since it’s winter time:
Make sure all ingredients are chilled. In a large punch bowl mix the juices and sugar. Add in the wine, club soda, brandy, fruit and ice if desired, Serve immediately. You can also add some cinnamon sticks for additional flavor.
If you don’t have time to make it yourself visit one of our Northern Arizona tasting rooms for some amazing sangria. Two of my favorites are at Oak Creek Winery and Javelina Leap.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours and is studying for her CSW and sommelier certificates.