I’m a big fan of Zinfandel, otherwise known as Primativo in Southern Italy and Tribidrag in Croatia. So, I’m always looking for a delicious Zin. One of my favorite stops on my Wilcox wine tour this month was Golden Rule Vineyards. I bought their 2015 Zinfandel, plus many other wines. The GRV Zinfandel is one of the most complex I‘ve sampled in a long time. The color was a lovely garnet with purple overtones. The nose had luscious aromas of bright cherry, raspberry, blackberry almond, and chocolate. On the palate I discovered additional flavors of dark cherry, current, mocha, oak, vanilla, earth and licorice, all of which blended together to create an extremely delicious wine. The finish was around 21 seconds, and I wished it would have gone on forever! The Alcohol by volume was 16.6 %.
I had some left over the next night (can you believe it!) and was surprised at how delicious the wine was the next day. If you’re looking for a wonderful Zinfandel, you don’t have to travel to Italy or Croatia, for we have some fabulous ones right here in Arizona.
Grenache is a grape variety that does extremely well in Arizona. I frequently direct Pinot Noir lovers to try our Arizona Grenache. Grenache or Garnacha as it is called in Spain, is renowned in Rioja, Spain and the Rhone Valley of France. It also grows extensively in the United State and Australia. It is frequently used as a blending grape with Syrah and Mourvedre. However, you’ll frequently find it is a wonderful single varietal wine in Arizona.
I bought a bottle of the Keeling Schaefer 2016 Two Reds Grenache on my Wilcox trip, a blend of 92% Grenache and 8 % Syrah. The color was a beautiful Ruby Rose. It showcased luscious aromas of dark cherry, oak, smoke and melon. The palate had a delightful velvety feel with additional flavors of strawberry, raspberry and pepper. The finish was around 16 seconds. The winemakers also note additional flavors of sage, prickly pear and incense. The wine has 14.2% alcohol and is one of my favorite Grenaches in the state and 319 cases were produced. At under $20 a bottle, it’s a real steal! If you’re a Pinot Noir lover, it’s time to give this Grenache a try.
One of my favorite grape varieties grown in Arizona is Graciano. Graciano was originally from Spain, but can be found in Languedoc-Roussillon in France, Italy, Portugal and many of New World areas including Australia, South America, California, Oregon and Arizona. It has historically been used as a blending grape, however, you’ll find many Arizona winemakers offer a single variety Graciano.
While recently exploring our Southern Arizona Vineyards and remote tasting rooms in Wilcox, Arizona, I came across the Aridus 2016 Graciano from Cochise County. The nose displayed lovely aromas of cherry, cocoa and mocha. The palate had additional flavors of dark cherry, raisin, cranberry, spice, cedar and minerals. This dry red, complex wine, had a medium body with low to medium acidity, and a lingering finish at around 35 seconds. The alcohol content was 14.4%. The wine should be able to age for an additional 5 years. You don’t have to travel all the way to Spain to experience a lovely Graciano… AZ has its Spanish roots covered!
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!
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.
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 week, I attended a VOCA wine and food pairing event at the Redstone Grill with the Mayor of Wine, Steve Bailey. Steve is a Certified Sommelier and is WSET 3 certified.
The lineup started with a delightful sparkling Brut CAVA from Campo Viejo, Spain. Next was the Canoe Ridge Pinot Gris from Washington State. After that came the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier Blend from Napa Valley, California, my favorite of the evening. The reds then started off with the Provisioner Red Blend from Arizona, the Wente Southern Hill Cabernet from Livermore, California and finally the Arizona Stronghold “Mangus” Red Blend, a combination of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet. I learned that “Mangus” was the Brother in Law of Cochise, a famous leader and Chief of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. Cochise County is where many of our Arizona wines hail from. AZ Stronghold uses a variety of Native American names for their wines. Tazi, a Stronghold white favorite, is named after Cochise’s older son.
The food pairing done buffet style, started with a delicious dilled, creamed salmon, then onto assorted cheeses and crackers, a cucumber and ham canopy, shrimp with cocktail sauce and beef skewers. There were delicious eclairs and mini cheesecakes for dessert. Most of the food pairings went well as they appeared with the above wines, however the skewers being on the saltier side, did struggle with the Mangus blend and not bring out its best flavors.
If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these wine pairing evenings with the Mayor, I’d definitely recommend it!
The holidays may be over, but the weather outside is currently frightful!
This time of year, can be very challenging for tour companies and guests. With heavy rains and sometimes even snow, it’s important when thinking about booking a wine or beer tour, that you consider protection from the elements and be nice and toasty. In the summer, when temperatures reach 100, having air conditioning can make the difference between a wonderful experience or a miserable one. All of Sedona Wine and Beer tours are offered in a comfortable, climate-controlled vehicle, to keep you dry and warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Our vineyards can be very muddy and slippery this time of year, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to visit one of the dozens of remote tasting rooms we have along the Verde Valley Wine Trail and beyond. Remote tasting rooms are located in Jerome, Old Town Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Sedona and Cornville with a plethora of award-winning wines and beers.
As you think about booking your next private wine tour, make sure to consider the weather, and we’ll whisk you off to remote tasting rooms for a unique experience.
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!
The 2016 Peasant from Burning Tree Cellars is a delicious wine with lovely aromas of cherry, raspberry, cinnamon and caramel. The grapes hailed from Buhl Memorial Vineyard in Cochise County in the Southern part of Arizona. It was produced and bottled in Camp Verde. On the palate I found additional delightful flavors of tart cherry, raspberry, toasted coconut and vanilla. The wine has 13% alcohol and the finish was lingering at around 32 seconds. This Grenache paired beautifully with my stir fry chicken.
Burning Tree has a fabulous tasting room in Old Town Cottonwood with a wide selection of single wine varietals and blends in both reds and white. They have won awards Statewide and Nationally and were awarded 90 points on a Syrah from The Wine Spectator. The co-owners or co-conspirators as they like to call themselves are Corey Turnbull and Mitch Levy. Corey also creates wines for Page Springs Cellars and Mitch is in the Southwest Wine Center degree program. So don’t let the name fool you, this Peasant is high on my list of excellent wines and you won’t pay High Society prices for it!
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.