Those who have read my blog for a while now know that I am quite fond of Chateau Tumbleweed. As I’ve mentioned before, I feel that Chateau Tumbleweed is one of the top 5 up-and-coming wineries in Arizona, and well worth watching. Furthermore, the humble attitude with which the “Quadfecta” of folks who make up this company is delightfully refreshing; they consistently refer to themselves as “Arizona’s first non-award winning winery.” The four folks that make up this company are in it only for the wine; not for glory. And they’re pretty damn good at it. (Which is why I won’t be surprised if glory comes to them accidentally.)
Furthermore, I admit, I’m fond of their labels. It’s like a reverse mullet–party in the front with fantastic artwork, and all business at the rear. You can’t argue with that level of humor and wine-making information.
The Wine: The 2012 Arneis is 90% Arneis, coming from Dragoon Mountain Vineyards down on the Willcox Bench, and 10% Malvasia Bianca, coming from New Mexico. The winemaker for this wine was Joe Bechard. Arneis is a white wine grape which originally comes from the Piedmont region of Italy. Amusingly enough, the name means “Little Rascal,” since this particular grape is apparently difficult to grow; I feel like this is a bit reflected in the label, incidentally. The grapes for this wine were cold-soaked, and then whole-cluster pressed; then fermented at 55 degrees for just under a month. It was aged in neutral French oak for 6 months; with 3 months on the lees. It was filtered, not fined, with less than 0.20% residual sugar. (I got all this from the back of the label. Like I said, party on the front, business on the rear. Information like this really helps to understand the wine-making process, and how these different choices affect the taste and structure of a wine!)
Nose: The nose is soft, seductive, and subtle. As one of my friends has noted I can always pick up “my girlfriend” (Malvasia Bianca) out of a lineup, and the slight bit of malvasia in this blend appears as notes of jasmine, sage, and rosemary on the bouquet. The rest of the nose is a combination of other fruits and floral elements. I catch the aromas of apricot, pear, fig, and peach, which delightfully intermingling with hops and almonds as the wine opens up.
Palate: The palate is quite fruity in character, with some herbaceous notes. Apple, peach, and apricot intermingle with mango and pecan. I also get notes of papaya and orange zest, with a slight hint of basil and thyme. The finish is long, and reminds me of wildflower honey and figs, underlain with the hint of limestone minerality which is common in Willcox whites. The slight residual sugar provides a nice balance to a refreshing acidity which really does make this wine a thirst-quencher.
Pairing: Orange chicken is a no-brainer for this wine. Or, you can make an overly complex vegan recipe for this wine, like I did; consisting of tofu, orange sauce, mushrooms, onion, and some potatoes. The key, of course, is the sauce; the texture of the tofu or the orange chicken will also work beautifully.
Impressions: This is another fantastic wine by Chateau Tumbleweed; beautifully balanced and delicious. I see this wine as a tomboy who occasionally likes to look pretty in a dress Okay, you know what? This wine is totally Kaylee from Firefly. A little rascally, pretty, intelligent, and knows her way around an engine.
48 cases of the Arneis were produced, but I’m pretty sure there’s none left–sorry. I admit, I’ve been holding onto this bottle for a while. If you want to try a white from Chateau Tumbleweed, and can’t find the Arneis, check out The Descendants, or Miss Sandy Jones, which you can find at Four-Eight Wineworks, in Clarkdale, AZ. If you run into Chateau Tumbleweed at any of the festivals, be sure to check them out there!