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Recently, Gary and I recorded a “Malvasia across the World” podcast, with vintages from Arizona, Italy, New Mexico, and California.  Rob Hammelman’s Malvasia was the Arizona wine for the podcast, and I managed to sneak just enough home to get enough notes for a full review, though stay tuned for the podcast to show up here in just a couple weeks.

Also, I swore the bottle I had was a 2014, which is why i didn’t buy one from him last time I saw him… and now I’m kicking myself because I think the 2014 is all gone too.  (hi-ho, hi-ho, off to Whole Foods in Phoenix I go!)  But, I do really love how this grape ages in Arizona.  Anyway, enough rambling.  Onto the wine.

Sand-reckoner malvasia

2012 Sand-Reckoner Malvasia Bianca at sunset over the Verde Valley

The Wine:  The grapes for this vintage were sourced specifically from the Sand-Reckoner Vineyard, and were harvested at 23 brix.  Rob tells me it was crushed/destemmed, and then skin soaked for 24 hrs before pressing with a basket press. the 2012 Malvasia was barrel fermented in neutral oak with 9 months aging on the lees. This wine underwent no malolactic fermentation.  At 13.6% alc, it’s big for a Malvasia.  It’s a beautiful medium shade of yellow in the glass.  The winemaker was Rob Hammelman.

The Nose:  As with most Arizona Malvasia Bianca, this wine opens with bright, cheerful elderflower and jasmine notes, intermingling with slight lavender, honeydew melon, and pineapple.  After the wine opens, or you’ve had the bottle open for a day (like I did after the Malvasia-Day Podcast), the nose gains notes of apricot, honey, and lemongrass.

The Palate:  On the palate, this Malvasia is similar to many others; a little bit more full-bodied, however.  Hints of lilac, honeydew melon, vanilla, jasmine, and elderflower are predominant.  The classic limestone dust that’s present on most Willcox whites is also to be found on the finish, which lasts for 53 seconds.  When the wine has had some time to open up, apricot and honey notes emerge, reminding me of the 2010 I reviewed earlier in the history of this blog.

The Pairing: This wine is big and bold enough for Bratwurst, cooked on the grill, but will also work beautifully (as with the 2010) with Pad Thai (vegan, shrimp, or chicken–either way!).  For some fun, make yourself some Orange Chicken, with a side of fried rice.

Impressions: It’s hard for me, as many of you have probably noticed, NOT to wax poetically on Arizona Malvasia, but the fact is, we do it really darn well here.  The only “bad” Malvasia I’ve had here from Arizona winemakers so far were bottles which were corked.  It is one of my favorite varietals for very good reason.  And Rob’s are delicious.

Were this wine a person it would be a blonde hippie artist, who prefers watercolor over oils, in a long, flowing dress the color of sunlight, walking through a flower garden.  She has a datura flower in her hair, and woven sandals upon her feet.

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