Aridus, Aridus Wine Company, Arizona, Arizona Terroir, arizona wine, Arizona Wineries, Burgundian Varietals, Chino Valley, Chino Valley Wineries, Del Rio Springs, Del Rio Springs Vinyeard, New Tasting Rooms, Noise Reviews, Pinot Noir, Rob Hammelman
There is a question I get asked almost every day when I’m working the tasting room, and even on days when I’m doing “research” at other wineries: “Where can I find a Pinot Noir?” It’s a question I dread, because this is not a grape I’m normally fond of. California pinots are attempted syrahs, while the ones coming from Oregon are so earthy that I may as well be eating dirt. The main problems with Pinot Noir in most of Arizona can be addressed with Miles Raymond’s soliloquy about the grape from Sideways. Most of Arizona doesn’t fall into those specific little tucked away corners of the world where this grape grows well. Except for one: Chino Valley, Arizona, which is producing pinot noir on par with some I’ve drank from Burgundy.
Yes, I am absolutely serious. The reason is that the climate and geology of the Chino Valley region closely approximates that of this grape’s Burgundian homeland, and nobody is doing a better pinot noir in Arizona than Del Rio Springs, who just opened their tasting room at the southern edge of Chino Valley. Their 2014 Pinot Noir is a perfect example of why this region is poised at the edge of becoming the fourth major wine region in Arizona. It is also a perfect jumping-off point for examining three tools in a winemaker’s arsenal: clones, yeast, and barrels. (I would also be remiss if I did not point out that they also have the only vintages of phoenix [a German white] and carménère [to be reviewed later] to be found in the state)
This pinot is a blend of several different clones that originate from Burgundy; the pommard, martini, 113, 777, and 828 clones are all planted at the Del Rio Springs vineyard, located in Paulden. Each clone of a grape provides a different flavor aspect that, when blended, creates a complex varietal wine that expresses the full potential of a vineyard. This wine was also made using two different yeasts Infusion (1502) and 1503, which are designed to express a Burgundian-style flavor profile. The 2014 Pinot Noir was made by Rob Hammelman, at the Aridus facility in Willcox. The wine was aged for 12 months in three-year old medium toast French oak barrels to provide that final Burgundian style feel to this wine. Different styles of oak, and different amounts of toast provide different flavor profiles.
This is a lighter-bodied, and lighter-colored pinot noir; light garnet color makes this wine appear very similar to those coming out of Côte-d’Or. On the nose, this wine is again reminiscent of a Burgundian pinot: bright red cherries and watermelon intermingle with soft frankincense, Cavendish tobacco, mushroom, and forest floor, with just a hint of vanilla and cedar. After the wine opens up for a bit, the earthy notes become more intense, and notes of thyme and sage emerge from the glass.
On the palate, once again this wine is reminiscent of a classic Burgundy. Bright cherry notes are well-intermingled in this vintage, blending with flavors of marionberry, earth, tobacco, leather, and vanilla. As the wine warms in the glass, a watermelon jolly rancher flavor emerges, intermingling with a bit of bergemot, black tea, and mushrooms. There are very slight tannins here on the finish, which lasts for about 34 seconds.
This wine, as I mentioned last month, is a good for your turkey, goose, or ham holiday dinner, as the delicate nuanced flavor profile will work well with these lighter meats. I would not pair this wine with roast beef, if you were planning to serve that on your Christmas/Yuletide table. For a vegetarian/vegan pairing, serve this wine with a Tofurky (if you must have one), or make a mushroom stroganoff with a mustard and chive mash. his wine is the cute, quiet, geeky girl next door possibly a French exchange student.
60 cases of the 2014 Pinot Noir were produced. You can visit newly opened tasting room on weekends, located in Chino Valley at 1174 South Hwy 89.
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