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!
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!
New Wineries and Breweries are popping up all over the Verde Valley. This week, I had the opportunity to visit one such winery out in Camp Verde.
Salt Mine Winery is a beautiful property growing many grape varieties such as: Sangiovese, Aglianico, Primativo (Zinfandel), Malvasia Bianca, Montepulciano, Barbera and Moscato. They will be specializing in Italian wine varietals.
Currently on their wine flight they have a 2015 and 2016 Malvasia Bianca, a Sangiovese, Graciano and Tempranillo blend. This selection is being sourced from other vineyards mostly in the Wilcox Bench area while their vineyard grapes are maturing. The Norton brothers Kevin and Chip are the owners. Chip is also involved in the Sinagua Malt Company which was started as a river water conservation project and their malted barley is being used by local breweries. The Salt Mine Winery is currently open on Saturdays and Holidays, so stop on by.
Being in the wine touring business, it’s not always easy to catch up on all of the new wines and varietals that are being offered in the Verde Valley and Arizona. Therefore, I’m thrilled to be attending the Arizona Vignerons Alliance Symposium and Grand Tasting in Phoenix this weekend.
The first exciting event on Sunday will be the symposium on wild grapes. No, we’re not talking about those wild grapes known as Vitis Arizonica that grow along our riverbanks in the Verde Valley, but unique, indigenous varietals from around the world that we are growing in Arizona including Mourvedre, Vermentino, Petit Manseng, Aglianico, Graciano, Sagrantino, Tannat and Vranac. I’ve had the opportunity to try most of these, but am looking forward to learning more about each one.
Next on the panel is an Arizona wine competition, with our varietals being compared to the same wine varietals from other areas around the world. I’ve done some of these comparisons on my own, but I’m very interested to see which National and International wines will be placed against ours, and which Arizona wines will be chosen.
Finally, a beautiful Rose’ lunch catered by The Farm at South Mountain followed by a lively auction and a Grand Tasting of Arizona Wines and Wine Sale.
What could be better?
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.