Last week we had a blind wine tasting with wines from Temecula. Four whites and four reds were showcased. The favorite of the evening was the 2017 Arneis from Hart Winery. For those who have never tasted Arneis, it is an important white grape from Piedmont, Italy and one of my favorites.
On the nose we found delightful aromas of grass, tropical fruit, flowers and almonds. On the palate there were additional flavors of honeysuckle, hazelnut, and dried apricot.
This dry white wine had a beautiful pale straw color, a 23 second finish and 11.5% alcohol by volume. There were 326 cases produced. Arizona is also growing Arneis, so if you can’t make it to Northern Italy or the lovely Hart Winery in Temecula, I hope you have the opportunity to try some local Arneis.
Though I captain a Honda instead of the Enterprise, the opportunity to explore unique, indigenous grape varieties is one of the highlights of my business. Falanghina is a white grape variety that I experienced again this week. Though the name is strange, it’s not a grape from another planet! The Falanghina grape is grown in Southern Italy in Campagna and Molise, Italy. This time I tried the 2017 Falanghina Feudi di San Gregorio, DOC, Estate bottled in Sorbo Serpico in Campagna.
This beautiful, dry white wine had a lovely nose of stone fruit, mostly pear, with melon and some red grapefruit. The palate expanded to add tropical fruits such as pineapple and kiwi. There were also inviting flavors of minerals and grass. It exhibited a nice soft mouth feel and was light to medium in body. This grape is grown in volcanic soil much like some of our top wines in Arizona. It was nicely balanced, had 13% alcohol by volume and the finish lasted around 23 seconds. This Falanghina paired nicely with my chicken and I feel that it would also pair well with fish or pasta. While seeking out new wines and new varietals, I discovered this wine at the Art of Wine, and luckily, I didn’t have to barter with the Ferengi to acquire it!
When I attended a wine and food pairing event with the Mayor of Wines a few weeks ago, my favorite wine of the evening was a delicious white wine blend from Pine Ridge, California, so of course, I had to take home a bottle! Last night I enjoyed this lovely blend of 17% Viognier and 83% Chenin Blanc with a dinner of salmon, bok choy, and rice noodles.
The luscious nose of the 2017 Pine Ridge white blend was bold and beautiful, showcasing aromas of star fruit, apricot, minerals, and honeydew. The palate was rife with flavors of pear, apricot, cantaloupe, and freshly mown grass. The finish lingered for around 22 seconds and the wine offered 12.5 % alcohol by volume. This beautifully balanced white blend displayed a crisp acidity that wasn’t overpowering and paired extremely well with the slightly spicy Dijon salmon that I made with it. All in all, at around $13, I highly recommend enjoying the Pine Ridge Viognier/Chenin Blanc blend with dinner or even by itself!
Last night my daughter and I attended a wonderful potluck party at The Art of Wine. There was a plethora of food and fabulous wines. One of the food highlights of the evening was my daughter’s Pao de Queijo, cheese bread, a delicious, gluten free bread, made with tapioca flour, oil, eggs, milk, water and parmesan cheese. The bread paired beautifully with the 2014 Bodegas Beronia Verdejo, from the region of Castillo y Leon, Spain, Rueda DO. This white wine had a lovely light yellow color. The nose offered tropical notes and additional aromas of stonefruit and gooseberry. The palate had refreshing acidity with additional herbaceous flavors. At less than $15 this is a good choice. Their 2016 vintage won a Gold medal at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and a 2016 Vintage Bacchus award. The 2017 vintage is also Vegan!
Some of my other favorites for the evening were the Bodega 2105 La Flor Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina and not shown in the photo the Nederberg 2014 Pinotage from Paarl, South Africa plus the Parallele 45, Cote du Rhone Rose’ which was a lovely blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah.
As you attend all of your holiday parties, I hope you enjoy your wine and bread as much as I did.
Last night I tried a Furmint from Tokaj, Hungary. Furmint is an indigenous white grape that is not seen much beyond Hungary, Austria and Eastern Europe. The 2016 Evolucio had a very light pale color and was bottled with a screw top. The nose had lovely stone fruit aromas plus lychee and minerals. The palate was velvety showcasing notes of peach, apricot, green grass, minerals and mouthwatering acidity. It was medium bodied, had a nice long finish at around 40 seconds, and offered additional flavors of pepper and honeysuckle towards the end. This complex dry wine had a fruity nose, which might cause you to think its sweet. Try pairing this Furmint with sushi, salad and chicken. The alcohol content is 11.5% and at around $11 per bottle is an excellent value.
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!
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 will also pursue her Certified Sommelier.