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For those who aren’t in the know, Arizona has its own school of wine-making.  Located in Clarkdale, the Southwest Wine Center is devoted to training a new generation of winemakers to explore the terroir of the various landscapes of Arizona.  I tangentially touched upon the subject of the school with my One Stone Syrah podcast with Michael Pierce, but I am hoping to do another podcast soonish with Phillip Brown, who manages the new tasting room at the college.  It’s a pretty awesome space, and you should check it out when you get a chance.  They’re open on Thursday-Sunday, 12-6 PM.


2014 Syrah from the Southwest Wine Center, with the vineyard and a dramatically broody Mingus Mountain behind it.

The Wine:
The 2014 Syrah was made from fruit that came from Rolling View Vineyards, on the Willcox Bench, which belongs to the Pierce family.  Dan Pierce runs a tight ship on that vineyard and it shows with the Quality of the fruit I’ve seen coming from there. It is made from 100% Syrah, and aged in neutral French oak.  This wine was a Bronze medal winner in the AZ republic competition associated with the Grand Arizona wine festival.  I should also mention that this wine was made by the students in the Viticultural Program at the college, which is pretty awesome.

Nose:  This is a pretty spicy syrah on the nose, with notes of clove, anise, and allspice intermingling with boysenberry, and latakia.  As the wine opens, notes of vanilla, eucalyptus, and cherry emerge from the glass.

Palate:  Like many Willcox syrahs, this is a pretty earthy expression of the grape, but it’s also pretty spicy.  Along with the earthy character, I also detect notes of cherry, boysenberry, anise, myrrh, saffron,  and bay.  Notes of latakia tobacco emerge as the wine opens. There’s some light tannins here, intermingled in a spicy finish.  The 2014 has a nice acidity as well. The finish of this wine lasts for 50 seconds.

Pairing:  My first thought for pairing this wine is barbecue, specifically a smoked, heavily herbed chicken that doesn’t have a super spicy character; I feel like the flavors of both would create a very unique harmony.  It also is a slightly delicate syrah, so I don’t want to pair with elk or something heavy that might overpower the wine.  For a vegetarian pairing, I’d go with a nice baked ratatouille, also loaded with herbs.

Impression: The Southwest Wine Center has produced what I feel is a good introduction to Arizona Syrah, and one I’d readily recommend.  It’s a little more delicate than some other expressions of this varietal in the state, but that makes it stand out.  Like many Syrahs in the state, this wine is a pinup model, but she is more slender, smoking a clove cigarette, and dressed in navy blue.  She’s reading a copy of The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran.  She has a semicolon as a tattoo on the back of her neck.