Arizona produces incredible Malvasia Bianca and last night I was able to enjoy a fabulous Malvasia that was great like its AZ counterparts. The 2018 Laramita Cellars Malvasia Bianca was a magnificent example of the high quality Malvasia that Arizona produces. The nose was rife with notes of stone fruit, elderflower, gardenia, and green apple. The palate also held stone fruit notes as well as hints of lychee, honeydew, and tropical citrus. The flavor was a refreshing, absolute delight to enjoy and though the ABV was 13.8 % the alcohol was well integrated into the wine. The finish lasted about 20 seconds; it came in like a wave of abundant flavor and receded promptly. The 2018 Laramita Malvasia Bianca paired extremely well with the Alaskan Pollock fillet in a white wine, cilantro, and garlic sauce.
Malvasia Bianca is a Mediterranean varietal originally believed to come from the island of Crete, however according to the Swiss grape geneticist, Dr. Jose’ Vouillamoz, the Malvasia Bianca that we grow in Arizona actually has its origins from predominately Italy and California with no Greek origins. Malvasia Bianca is an ancient and well-renowned grape that is even mentioned by the name Malmsey in Shakespeare’s Richard III. Arizona is a noted producer of Malvasia. In fact, if you look up regions that produce Malvasia, Wikipedia does indeed mention AZ, which is a great feat considering our small production tendencies in this State. If you try Arizona Malvasia, I can pretty much guarantee you will be swept away and become biased toward Bianca!
Mimi Mahl, Guest blogger
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Many people have had the opportunity to try delicious wine varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, or Viognier, but how often do you have the opportunity to sample the grapes they are made from? One of the advantages of having a local wine college which teaches enology (the study of making wine) and viticulture (the study of growing the vines), is sampling local wine grape varieties during harvest time. When I visit the Southwest Wine Center during harvest and my wine tour guests sample the wine grapes, they are amazed at the delicious fruit! It also astonishes them how different the grapes taste from the wine. Our Wine College grows a variety of unique wine grapes including Refosco, Malvasia Bianca, Tannat, Piquepoul Blanc, Viognier and Barbera. It’s a wonderful time of year to be in Arizona and have the chance to sample our local wine grapes.
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Anyone who knows me, knows that Malvasia Bianca is one of my favorite wine varietals. I had a wonderful tour of Page Springs Cellars and was able to purchase their 2016 Malvasia Bianca which was grown on their Dos Padres Vineyard in Yavapai County. 55 cases of this lovely wine were produced.
The color was a pale lemon and the wine had 14.1% ABV. The nose had delightful aromas of Lychee, honeydew melon, mango and honeysuckle, while the palate offered additional flavors of papaya, minerals and grass. I enjoyed this dry medium bodied wine which had a finish at around 15 seconds. It presented pleasant aromas and flavors and was not overpowering as many Malvasias could have been with my spicy, mustard and honey salmon!
This year, The Southwest Wine Center won a Gold medal again at the Jefferson Cup and they recently won a Bronze and Silver medal for a Malvasia Bianca /Viognier blend and Syrah/Tempranillo blend respectively.
Their 2017 Viognier ML+, Yavapai College Vineyard, is an award winner in my book also. It has a clear pale lemon color and a delightful aroma of apricot, pear and Kiwi. On the palate you’ll find delicious flavors of honeysuckle, tangerine, almond and butterscotch. Though this viognier went through Malolactic fermentation, it still displays a nice acidity and balance. It is dry, complex with a light to medium body. The finish lingered for about 28 seconds and the wine is 12.2% alcohol by volume. I paired it with a garlic chicken, and it was an excellent combination.
This Viognier is still available for purchase at the Southwest Wine Center. Make sure to try this delightful viognier from our award-winning Wine College, which is located along the Verde Valley Wine Trail.
With this wine you’ll be tempted to Viognier all day!
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!
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.
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!
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.
A cork made from sugar cane? Yes! These are plant-based synthetic corks made from non-GMO sugar cane and are manufactured by the Nomacorc company in Brazil. The manufacture has developed these as a natural cork alternative and states they offer a zero-carbon footprint. They also reference them to be 100% recyclable and have consistent oxygen control. They have a look and feel similar to synthetic cork.
These new innovative corks are now in use at the Southwest Wine Center in the 2017 Viognier and their 100% Malvasia. The college is also using them in the new Passport, a Viognier and Malvasia blend and expects to use them in and all of the 2017 whites to be bottled.
These corks as a choice of bottle closure are another addition to the mission of ecology and sustainability that is a major goal at Yavapai College.
The Southwest Wine Center is an adaptive reuse project, which is a process that adapts buildings for new uses while retaining their original features. The building where the tasting room, fermentation, aging and bottling are done was formerly a racquet ball court! One goal of their project is to use 50% less power than an average Arizona home. Their roof also collects rain water for irrigation and other uses. When I take my private wine tours to the facility, I love pointing out the rock walls, which were created utilizing rocks cleared out from the vineyard land.
The corks are currently being used on just the white wines. It will be interesting to see how this newer material will maintain the wines while supporting our environment.
The 2016 Monsoon by Southwest Wine Center is a white wine as stunning as our Arizona storms. It contains 45% Malvasia Bianca, 45% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Viognier. It has a pale straw color, with medium acidity and intensity. The nose bursts with delicious notes of lychee, grapefruit, dried apricot and honeysuckle while the palate also includes a luscious honey/honeysuckle flavor. This dry and very refreshing wine offers a long finish at around 40 seconds. The alcohol content comes in at 12.8%.
I was a big fan of their Sunlight which won a Gold Medal and Best of Class Award at the 2017 Sunset International wine competition in Berkeley, California. I thoroughly enjoyed the new Monsoon. It’s unique from the Sunlight with added Sauvignon Blanc and different percentages of Malvasia Bianca and Viognier. A delightful wine to drink while watching our monsoons roll by.
Sue Schurgin, CSW, (Certified Specialist of Wine) is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She loves education and is also a Level 1 Sommelier.