What is the Verde Valley Terroir?
One of my favorite descriptions of Terroir is “the Taste of the Place”. The taste of the place and more official description of terroir is determined by multiple aspects including where the grapes grown; on a hill, flat land, facing what direction, relationships to bodies of water, elevation, etc. Also included are soil type, climate, water and sunlight. Human interaction in viticulture practices has an impact as well.
In the Verde Valley we have six major vineyard areas and a variety of factors that affect our terroir in each area. For example, the Page Springs area sits on volcanic and lake bed soils and within each vineyard there are a variety of soils, geography, water and microclimates. At Page Spring Vineyards, soils include sand and clay layered over chunks of volcanic rock that is combined with chalky, alkaline, limestone-like deposits. The subsoils are alkaline, much like the limestone of the Rhône, other areas of Southern France and Burgundy. Hence, you’ll see in our area delicious Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Vermentino, Roussanne and Viognier.
In other areas along Page Springs you’ll find ash, chunks of volcanic stones, chalky clays, and limestone. Up the street by DA Ranch, we have the House Mountain vineyard, which was the home of a major volcano around 13-15 million years ago. The soils here include everything from basalt to pure limestone. Counoise, Grenache Noir, Petit Sirah grow here along with Pinot Noir, which is surprising considering our heat.
In terms of our weather, we have a very large diurnal shift, (the difference between the day time and nighttime temperatures vary considerably.)
which is excellent for growing grapes.
The other areas of the Verde Valley are also extremely diverse. In Clarkdale at our Southwest Wine Center Vineyard, there are 3 different soils that they have discovered so far and more sampling is being done. In Camp Verde, the fresh water from the Mogollon Rim offers a different taste profile.
So, if you’re in the Verde Valley, I hope you’ll sample wines from many of the different vineyards and find out about the “Taste of our place!”
This week I have been revisiting Spain in my studies. Instead of trying a classic Rioja this time, I found a Spanish, Rhone style blend with 50% Garnacha and 50% Syrah and no Mouvedre which is called Monastrell in Spain. In Arizona, we have many GSM’s (Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre blends) which is a classic Rhone style.
The Agoston 2015 is from the DOP of Carinena, near the Iberico Mountain range, and the DO dates back to 1932. It’s close to the city of Zaragoza in Aragon in the Northeast corner of Spain. The Wild Boar on the label references the animals coming into the vineyards from the forest nearby and nibbling on the fruit. Again, it reminds me of our local Arizona Javelina, though a total different animal.
This dry red wine was a beautiful color of purple/ruby and had a medium body. The nose had aromas of cherry and vanilla and the palate was fruity with notes of cherry, raspberry, vanilla and pepper. This is definitely fruit forward, more New World in style, but not as jammy as a California blend and to me more food friendly. It had 13.5 % alcohol, medium acidity and finished at around 25 seconds.
What was surprising was that even after 2 days, the wine was still quite drinkable. At under $12, this is a great, easy drinking choice.
I bought an amazing rib eye steak and thought about what I’d like to pair it with. I rummaged through my wine cooler and found a 2014 Chateau Tumbleweed, 100% Syrah from Cimarron Vineyard.
One of the most outstanding things that Chateau Tumbleweed does, is put everything you wanted to know about a wine on their bottle labels. The wine was harvested on September 3rd and was grown at an elevation of 4300 feet. The wine was cold-soaked for 24 hours, punched down by hand 3-4 times daily and stayed on the skins for 11 days. It went through malolactic fermentation and was aged for 11 months in 20% new French oak. It was also unfined/unfiltered and came in at 15% alcohol.
The color was a deep garnet purple. The nose reflected notes of earth, prune and alcohol. The palate showcased flavors of mocha, raspberry, currant, chalk, and dates. I ended up aerating it to bring out more of the flavors. The wine though three years old could easily lay down for a few more years. Clearly this wine has an impressive ageability. Oh Arizona Syrah!
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.