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As if it’s not clear, I pretty much have a minor love affair with Chateau Tumbleweed, a small four-person operation that thanks to a slew of awards of late courtesy of the San Fransisco Chronicle, has skyrocketed to prominence. I have yet to be disappointed by a wine from this crew, and they recently released three new red blends at Four-Eight Wineworks in a 1980’s-themed extravaganza.

And, since we were talking about Barbera with our last entry, let’s talk about it some more.   (Note: A podcast about this grape in Arizona is in the process of being planned)


The wine: the 2013 Fancy Foreign Language Blend is a blend of 80% Barbera from Fort Bowie, and 20% Syrah from Deep Sky Vineyards. This wine was aged in 28% new French Oak for 11 months. 33% of the Syrah was fermented whole-cluster. I should make a note that the folks of Chateau Tumbleweed do a wonderful job of explaining their winemaking process on the back of their labels. It’s almost like a reverse mullet: party in front, business in back. 55 cases were produced and the wine is unfiltered.

The Nose: The nose of the FFLB is quite complex and harmonious. I get notes of cherry, teaberry, watermelon, mint, and tarragon, intermingled with vanilla, cilantro, bergamot, Montréal steak seasoning, and freshly chopped juniper logs thrown onto a campfire.

Palate: The standard cherry, mint, eucalyptus, and pomegranate notes of Arizona Barbera are strong with this one. These notes intermingle with boysenberry, cinnamon, cedar and latakia pipesmoke. There are some light tannins, but this wine has a lovely acidity and a long, lingering finish lasting for about 18 seconds.

Pairing: Chinese food would be great, especially Sesame or Teriyaki Chicken. A garden burger with spaghetti sauce and kale would also be a good pairing for the Fancy Foreign Language Blend.  A Thanksgiving Turducken should also work, if herbed properly.

Impressions: The bright fruit of the Barbera is counterbalanced and enhanced by the smoky, broody Syrah in the blend.  Decidedly feminine, the Fancy Foreign Language Blend is a bit of a hardcore badass. She’s half Italian, half French, knows both languages (and English) fluently, and also knows her way intimately around a vineyard.  Her coworkers used to place bets on her regarding fights with pruners on slow days in the vineyard–and she’d win. She quite possibly has a tattoo, but you have no idea where. In her spare time, she has a whittling knife that she uses to carve tiny figures of bears out of wood for small children.  You definitely want to be friends with her.

(I wouldn’t cellar this for more than five years, however.  Drink sooner rather than later… Although, admittedly, nobody including myself knows just how well Arizona Barbera ages yet.  Yes, that’s right, there’s something even *I* don’t know.  You can find this, like all other Chateau Tumbleweed wines, at Four-Eight Wineworks)