Upon trying the 2017 Red Storm, I was transported back to the semester that several students and I worked at the Southwest Wine Center on this wine. I remember on the day this wine was blended. I thought it was the best red wine we produced that day. Three years later the quality of this beautiful Storm hasn’t lessened at all. The Red storm exhibits a beautiful garnet color while the nose showcases notes of strawberry and current, (not surprising as the predominate variety in the Red Storm is Grenache). There was a slight green note to the nose as well as hints of dill. The palate was beautifully balanced with flavors of strawberry, rhubarb, and tomato leaf. This wine was balanced but zingy with bright acidity harmonizing with the fruit and herb flavors, a 13.7 ABV, and a lovely 22-second finish.
The Red Storm is over 40% Grenache, but the Tempranillo, Sangiovese, and Mourvèdre also shine through on the palate. Though we paired this blend with a beef stew, I could easily see the Red Storm pairing well with lamb or veal dishes as well as some less-spicy Asian dim sum dishes like beef Bao and pot stickers.
The fact that the wines of the Southwest Wine Center are made by the students of Yavapai College makes some individuals a little wary, however, the wines are incredible! Their award-winning wines have included Gold and Double Gold medal winners at the Jefferson Cup and San Francisco Chronicles Wine competition, and the Best in Show white wine at the AZ Central Grand Wine Competition. The 2017 Red Storm blend is hardly a storm you would want to shelter from. It is the one meteorological event I would welcome into my home anytime!
Guest Blogger, Mimi Mahl
As we get closer to the winter season, we must all give thought to what wines we want to enjoy as the weather cools. Sangiovese, named for the king of the gods, is also the king of Italian grapes and the grape that makes Chianti. This beautiful red varietal, though of vital importance to the Italian wine market, is starting to make its mark on the Arizona wine industry as well.
I had the pleasure of trying the 2016 Sangiovese from Flying Leap Vineyards and was delighted by the rustic aromas coming off the wine. Its earthy nose balanced well with the bright cherry and juicy plumb notes that arose from my glass. The soft palate was rife with fresh red berries that complemented the cedar and baking spices that the wine displayed. The 30-second finish was substantial without being over-long. All the flavors this wine displayed swept me away with thoughts of Tuscan soils and Arizona sunshine. This Sangiovese would pair excellently with a Caprese Salad as an appetizer or Spaghetti Bolognese as a main course. If you are looking for a wine that will warm you this upcoming winter, the Flying Leap Sangiovese will keep your thoughts off the cold!
Sangiovese, the main grape in an Italian Chianti wine, is being grown in many locations in Arizona including the Wilcox AVA. The 2014 Sangiovese from Zapara Vineyard in Wilcox received a rating of 87 points from Wine Spectator and a Silver Medal at the San Francisco Chronicles Wine Competition!
This dry red wine has a beautiful garnet color and the nose offers lovely aromas of black cherry, cinnamon, currants and strawberry. The palate showcases additional flavors of mild oak, cedar, chocolate and pipe tobacco. The finish comes in at around 22 seconds. 90 cases of this Sangiovese were produced, and it has a high alcohol content of 15.6 % ABV. I recommend decanting it to bring out additional subtle flavors. It paired well with my chicken cacciatore.
Sample a little bit of Italy in Arizona with the Zapara Sangiovese for around $24.
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To help me survive our snowy Sedona weather, I opened a bottle of a super Arizona blend. The 2016 Gallifant cellars Super Tucsan is a delicious blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese and 13% Merlot. This 2018 Arizona Republic Wine Competition, Gold Medal winner was aged in neutral oak, though the Cabernet had 6 months of new oak and was a Silver medal winner. The Grapes were sourced from Graham County Arizona and the wine has 13% alcohol by volume. The nose displayed delightful aromas of cherry, currant, cassis, and cedar with additional flavors of mocha and oak on the palate. It was nice and smooth, dry with a medium body and had a lovely garnet color. The finish lasted around 25 seconds. When I took the photo, I briefly buried the wine bottle in the snow and then measure the mark which came to 7 inches deep! I thoroughly enjoyed this wine on our exceptionally snowy evening and found it was easy drinking alone and paired beautifully with the spicy chicken I had for dinner.
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!
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.
Sue Schurgin, CSW, (Certified Specialist of Wine). WSET II, is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She loves wine and beer education and is also a Level 1 Sommelier.