This week I had the opportunity to try an Arizona, award winning Malbec. Malbec, is one of the original blending grapes for a classic Bordeaux blend. Currently, it is a signature red grape of Argentina where it thrives. The Passion Cellars, 2015 Malbec, by Salvatore Vineyards, won Bronze medals at both the 2018 Arizona Republic Wine Competition and the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. It is produced and bottled at Passion Cellars, Cochise, County in Wilcox and has 13.9% alcohol.
The nose had aromas of Blueberries, dates and prunes, while the palate showcased additional notes of mocha, strawberries, blueberries and plum. The color was a lovely Purple and Garnet combination. It was not too tannic with some light, crisp acidity and was lighter in body than most Argentinian Malbec’s I’ve had. The finish came in at around 22 seconds. It paired beautifully with the cilantro Chimichurri chicken I had for dinner. At under $30, it’s definitely on my cellar list.
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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.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.