On a recent visit to the newly opened Bodega Pierce, I was thrilled to have both a light flight and bold flight. So what is a Bodega? It could be a cellar, grocery store, wine shop, bar, a place to store coffee or even a vineyard. Many of the vineyards I visited in Medoza, Argentina had Bodega in their names.
It was exciting to see the 2017 Malvasia Bianca on the light flight menu. The 2017 is quite different than the 16 for it has lovely notes of gooseberry. Also, on the light flight was a delightful Chardonnay ML, Grenache Rose’, the Athena, a delicious blend of Grenache, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo (one that I purchased) and the Emotiva, a super Tuscan style blend.
The bold flight included a GSM, Merlot, Graciano and Gallia, a Cabernet forward and Merlot, Bordeaux style blend. The other wine I sampled that was not on the bold flight was the 100% Cabernet Franc, which I also ended up purchasing. Each wine I tasted was excellent and I wish I had it in my budget to purchase all of them! Bodega Pierce is now open Thursday thru Sunday, so I hope you have the opportunity to stop by the new Bodega!
I hadn’t had a Chianti in a while and discovered a 2015 Fontella Chianti DOCG from Casa Girelli in my wine cooler. I love Sangiovese! The wine had 12.5% alcohol by volume and a lovely garnet/ruby color. It had a medium body and was quite smooth and velvety. There were cherry and raspberry notes on the nose which carried onto the palate, with additional flavors of oak, cedar and vanilla. On the winemaker’s website, it states that it is a blend of Sangiovese and Cannaiolo. They also stated that it was fermented in stainless steel and aged for three months in large Slavonian (from Croatia) oak barrels. The grapes are sourced from various vineyards in the Chianti DOCG region in Tuscany where Sangiovese is King, but bottled in Trento, in the Northern part of Italy. The finish came in at around 18 second. James Suckling rated this delightful wine at 90 points and for around $10 per bottle it’s an excellent Chianti value you can do!
Last night for Thanksgiving, I decided to pair the Turkey and side dishes with a lovely Arizona Grenache. Arizona Grenache is a special treat and an excellent alternative to Pinot Noir. However, when I opened the Grenache it had cork taint! Cork taint is a mold called 2,4,6 Trichloroanisole or TCA with odors of mold and must. It sometimes smells like a moldy basement. This fault can occur in up to 8% of bottles. The mold is destructive and can also permeate any part of a winery including barrels and walls and even end up in a screw top wine!
Since the Grenache was undrinkable, I decided to open another bottle. This time I chose an Arizona Viognier, which should have paired well with the Turkey, however, this Viognier was smooth when it hit the tip of my tongue but the became quite harsh as it hit the back of my tongue. It was such a disappointment and did not pair well with the delicious dinner. At this point, after cooking all day, I was too tired and frustrated to open a 3rd bottle.
There are fabulous leftovers galore in the house, so tonight, I’ll either open a Pinot Noir, another Viognier or a French Rose’ which I have stashed away. So wish me luck! I hope you had better luck with your Thanksgiving wine and I hope that your leftovers enjoy a taint free wine.
The 3rd Thursday of November is the release of Beaujolais Nouveau in the Burgundy region of France. This year it falls on November 15th. Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the Gamay grape and frequently served on Thanksgiving. This year is purported to be an excellent year for Beaujolais in France. The grapes are fermented for only a few weeks and then bottled. The release of Beaujolais Nouveau is celebrated in France with major festivities including music and fireworks. Georges Duboeuf is a popular brand seen in American stores, however this is not a wine that you want to age, so I’d recommend drinking it within a few months.
If you’re not a Beaujolais Nouveau fan, why not try a delicious Arizona Grenache, Pinot Noir or Rose. Yes, we do grow Pinot Noir in Arizona! Bodega Piece and Page Springs have excellent ones. For Grenache, try one from Pillsbury. For Rose, most of our wineries have a rose and Merkin has a variety of them. For my table, an Arizona Grenache will be accompanying this year’s turkey.
Last year I blogged about the 2016 Picpoul Blanc from Chateau Tumbleweed. This week I had the opportunity to try the 2017 vintage which was also sourced from the Cimarron vineyard. The 2017 has 11.8 % alcohol; a little less than the 2016. The color was a very pale lemon and like the 2016 had a very soft mouth feel especially since it was fermented and aged in stainless steel. The acidity was surprisingly mellow since Picpoul, a.k.a. “the lip stinger” can frequently be highly acidic. It was fermented for 35 days in stainless steel and was aged in stainless for an additional 6 months. The residual sugar was .75%.
The nose had nice aromas of stone fruits such as apricots and peaches, minerals and limestone notes. The flavor profile had just a tad of sweetness with notes of stone fruits, eucalyptus and a hint of butterscotch. It had a medium body and around a 20 second finish.
I paired it with a delicious garlic chicken and was pleased with the combination. Just 59 cases of this delightful wine were produced so we’re all breathlessly waiting for our lips to be stung in 2018!
I always love trying unique wine grape varieties. This week I added Falanghina to my list. Falanghina is a white wine that hales from the DOC of Irpinia in Campania, which is in the Southwestern part of Italy. The 2016 Terredora Dipaolo, Corti di Giso, Irpinia DOC, Falanghina had an inviting nose with notes of stone fruit of peach and apricot plus citrus aromas of grapefruit. The palate offered additional notes of honeysuckle and minerals, was not too acidic and had a nice mouthfeel. This dry white wine had a medium body with a finish of around 22 seconds. The cost was around $18 a bottle. I paired it with salmon and yet felt it was not in balance. There are many better white Italian wines for the price. However, I would like to try some other Falanghina’s to compare, and I'd love to travel to Naples to do it!
When my guests visit the Southwest Wine Center, on the Yavapai College Campus in Clarkdale, there is always something exciting instore for them. Besides sampling fabulous wines and getting a tour of the amazing facility, they learn about winemaking techniques and sometimes guests will even get to sample wine grapes! On a tour last week, guests tried the Malvasia Bianca and Carignan wine grapes.
When you sample wine grapes they don’t always taste like the wine, however, Malvasia Bianca is one variety that can taste quite similar to the wine. Pictured on the right is the Malvasia Bianca, one of Arizona’s signature white grapes. It originated in Crete and if quite popular in Italy. It has been used in Chianti and Madera.
Carignan is a red grape found in Italy, Spain and Southern France and known by many names including Mazuelo and Samso and is pictured on the left. It produces full bodied reds, is often used for blending and grows quite well especially in hotter climates. The Carignan from our college vineyard was planted in 2015 and is already producing amazing fruit with a luscious, sweet fruit taste.
I look forward to tasting the wonderful wines that will be produced from these grapes. Starting next year, the College will be offering wines made from 100% estate fruit, meaning they will grow all of the grapes for the wines they produce on the campus.
Last night, my daughter and I decided to have an Old World vs. New World varietal contest. We chose Monastrell vs. Mourvedre. The Monastrell was the Honora-Vera 2016 from Jumilla DOP, Spain and the Mourvedre was the Hart 2015 from Temecula Valley, California. Interesting to note the Old World was 14.5% alcohol and the New World was just 12.8% alcohol. The Honora-Vera had a lovely purple/ruby color which was darker than the Hart. It was fuller bodied, had minerals, green pepper, unsweetened chocolate and dried herbs on the nose with additional flavors of dark cherry and dried cranberry on the palate. The Old world was bush trained in limestone at a 2300 foot elevation with low yields. The finish was longer than the Hart at about 31 seconds.
The Hart had a nice color of Garnet/Mahogany with aromas of berries, cherries, leather, oak and red pepper. The palate had additional cherry, mocha, oak and tannins. It was VSP trained and was medium bodied. Both had some earthy notes while the Hart was much more fruit forward.
We paired the wines with brisket, rice noodles and steamed broccoli. The Honora-Vera was an excellent, complementary, pairing for the brisket, while the Hart was too fruit forward and oaky for the pairing. Though in the case the Old World wine was higher in alcohol, it still was the better choice for food. In my studies, I frequently find the Old World wines complement food, while the new world wines are better drunk on their own.
I was hoping to have my contest with one of our delicious Arizona Mourvedres, but alas, in my wine storage, they were all drunk! This Old World- New World contest was a blast and I look forward to doing it again soon.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to sample a beer flight at our latest craft brewery, The Sedona Beer Company. Their custom flights normally include four beers for $10, however I added the 2 additional beers on the menu to my flight. The lineup included a Hefeweizen, 4.5 ABV, Golden Ale, 4.4 ABV, Session IPA, 3.6 ABV, Berliner Braunbier, 5 ABV, A Dark Mild, 4.3 ABV and an American Abbey Ale at 7 ABV. Kali, one of the owners, mentioned that they normally don’t include the ABV on the menu and never mention the IBU’s because they want their patrons to taste the beer without any preconceived notions and that true IBU’s can only be determined in a lab.
I especially enjoyed the Golden Ale and the American Abby Ale, however, I fell in love with the Berliner Braunbier (brown beer). Many of us have tasted a Berliner Weisse, but some of you might have thought the Berliner Braunbier was extinct. Not so in Sedona! This historic style Berliner Braunbier was not sour like some of the Berliner Weisse beers I’ve had. I adore their description of the beer which is perfect: “Rich layers of malt invite you deeper as they deliver warm flavors of caramel and firesides.” Put this on your to-taste list when putting together your flight!
Besides Beer, they also offer an alcoholic and non-alcoholic Wild Tonic Kombucha, plus many other non-alcoholic drinks. Their food menu includes appetizers, salads, burgers and desserts. The sweet potato Waffle fries are outstanding!
So check out the new beer and maybe the “old beer” in uptown at the Sedona Beer Co at 465 Jordan Road and open Thursday through Sunday. They’re on the web at www.sedonabeerco.com.
Today, September 21, 2018 is International Grenache Day. The Grenache grape is originally from Spain where it is called Garnacha and is frequently made into a single varietal wine. In Italy, it is known as Cannonau, and was also found early on in Sardinia. In the Southern Rhone area of France, it is called Grenache and is used as a blending grape in a Cotes du Rhone, where it is normally blended with Syrah and Mourvedre, though it can be blended with any of the approved grapes in the area. There is Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris. It is also used in the making of a lovely Rose’ from the Tavel appellation in Southern Rhone blended with Cinsault.
You’ll find quite a bit of it in Australia and California. I recently listened to a wonderful podcast from the Guild of Sommeliers talking about Rhone Varietals in Paso Robles. They are producing Grenache as a standalone variety and having quite a bit of success.
In Arizona you’ll see a lot of Grenache. Though it is often used in a GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre), it is frequently produced as a single varietal wine and also as a Rose’.
Depending on where it’s grown, it can have amazing aromas and flavors including cherry, vanilla, jam raspberry, strawberry, pepper and other spices.
So crack open a bottle of Garnacha, a Cotes du Rhone, a GSM or an Arizona 100% Grenache and celebrate!
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.