I know, I know, I’m posting a lot of whites lately. But frankly for me, white wines are wines of the summer; not of winter, and with Orion rising in the sky, the harvest season is nearly over, and winter is almost upon us, so I’m trying to drink some of my stash before it gets too cold. Although technically, this wine isn’t from my stash at all; I had this glass at the opening of Superstition Meadery, in downtown Prescott.
Painted Lady Vineyards is located in Skull Valley, Arizona, not terribly far from Prescott, at about 4,400 feet. They have one acre under vine, entirely of Gewürtztraminer. This is still Yavapai County, but it is not part of the Verde Valley geologically in any way, shape or form. The area of Skull Valley is not part of the remains of the lost Pedregosa sea; it is the remains of the long-collapsed Mogollon highlands; the tortured remains of Precambrian mountains and Quaternary volcanics. The winemaker for this vintage was Eric Glomski, of Page Springs fame.
Now here’s a strange question: Why are there so few wineries in Prescott and Chino Valley? The climate is perfect, the soils are fantastic, and sandy, and the mostly granitic base would provide a terroir very similar to parts of the Rhone and Burgundy, but it doesn’t seem to have the same oomph and growth as the rest of the state. Clearly, wine production is feasible here; Granite Creek Winery predates even Sonoita in terms of wine production. My theory is because Prescott is a beer and whiskey town, but that will soon change, and the opening of the Superstition Meadery will aid in opening the eyes to the region to that which is patently obvious to what’s around them. Recommendation: If you’re looking to start a vineyard in Arizona, and don’t want to be in Willcox, start in the area between Peebles Valley to the South, stretching to Skull Valley and Prescott Valley, north into Paulden, south into Dewey-Humbolt, to the edge of Cherry Road and I-17. But enough of my thoughts on the matter. Let’s drink.
The Wine: Gewürtztraminer has a complex history, but seems to have originated somewhere in Germany; it is here where many of the most famed vintages of this grape are grown. This grape is not terribly common here in Arizona; but I think it would do well in the higher, cooler areas, especially near Parks, Seligman, and Chino Valley, rather than Willcox. This wine seems to prove that idea, at least in my mind. As far as I’m aware, it’s also being grown by Carlson Creek and Dragoon, down in Willcox.
Nose: There are intense floral notes on the nose, consisting of jasmine, lavender, and elderflower, the latter of which makes the wine fairly reminiscent of a bit of St. Germain’s. There are also strong notes of lychee, pear, and green apple.
Palate: This wine is smooth and fresh. No minerality, and no distinct terroir notes–but then, I’ve not had enough wines from this reason to really discern what the terroir of this region would be like. Further experimentation to discern the local terroir is required. (oh darn.) Lychee continues on the palate, intermingled with sour green apple, tarragon and some other sort of spice which I could not pin down. It has a fantastic acidity that isn’t overwhelming.
Pairing: This wine would pair well with potato salad and fried chicken; making this a great picnic wine.
Impressions: This particular grape has the honor of being the first Arizona wine I ever tasted, from the horrible bowels of Kokopelli Winery, back in the day (making it a dubious honor at best). Happily, this Gewürtztraminer is light years better than that bottle I had then. The impression I have of this wine is a little bit like my high school girlfriend; tall, quiet, nerdy, and a birder. She’s far more comfortable with the outdoors.