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Since I’ve been on a bit of a Sangiovese kick lately, I decided I needed to examine one by someone who I consider to be among the zen masters of Arizona wine.

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The Wine:  The 2011 vintage of the 2 is a blend of 72% Sangiovese and 28% Syrah from Cochise County, Arizona.  The Sangiovese in this blend is itself a blend; consisting of 39% of Sangiovese Grosso (the clone used for Brunello), and 33% of what’s known as clone 2.  These two components bring complexity to the vintage, with the grosso adding backbone, depth, and aging potential, while the clone 2 adds bright cherry fruit and spice, according to Rob Hammelman. The Syrah (28%) balances the blend with a dusty, smoky richness.The grapes for this wine all came from Sand-Reckoner Vineyard. The 2011 “2” Aged in neutral 500L puncheons and 225L barrels for 18 months. It spent 30 days on the skins, and was then basket pressed. This is essentially a Super-Tuscan style wine; in fact, I’ve had similar blends with similar percentages coming from Tuscany.

The Nose: The 2 has a pretty subtle nose at first, that seems to accentuate the Syrah in this blend. Latakia notes intermingle with rich earth, monsoon petrichor and Squadron leader pipe tobacco, and hints of cinnamon.  The fruit notes are far more subtle, consisting of boysenberry, cherry, and bright red plums. After decanting, the 2 has a rich earthy, clove-filled scent.

The Palate:   This wine is decidedly juicy right off the bat, almost like biting into a freshly ripened plum.  Other fruit flavors include bright strawberry, and cherry, intermingling with subtle Cavendish tobacco, cedar, vanilla, and black pepper.  The finish of this wine when first out of the bottle is long, consisting of flint, dust, cherry, and hints of cassis. There’s still heavy tannins here, and a great deal acidity to play with in terms of food pairing.  The finish itself lingers for just shy of three minutes.  After decanting, flavors of mint emerge as well, along with cloves, perique, and anise, and the finish of this wine lasts 3 minutes, 17 seconds.

The Pairing: I feel like I need something rich, decadent, and savory with this wine.  I keep thinking “elk” because of the incredible richness of this wine… so my initial thought is some sort of mozzarella-stuffed elk meatballs with penne pasta and red sauce.  I’d use chopped up portobello mushrooms and artichoke for a vegan pairing, but keep the same sauce and pasta.  Or, pair this with a nice evening and a good pipe smoke, or nothing at all. There’s enough complexity here, I think, that lends this wine to simple contemplation on its own.

Impressions:  This is a pretty darn satisfying wine.  It’s not flashy, perhaps, but it’s decidedly comfortable and there’s a lot of complexity here.  One could either use the 2 as a dinner wine and serve it with food or sit alone with it for a few hours and a contemplative pipe and watch it grow in complexity.  It’s quite versatile!

I think this right now may be my favorite Sangiovese blend of recent memory.  I’m very curious about how the 2012 vintage compares, so I may well be drinking that soon. (Then again, almost every time I say “Oh I’ll drink the subsequent vintage soon” I end up waiting a year.)

I’d have to say this Sangiovese blend is your best friend in her little black dress at a cocktail party, catching everyone’s eye. Everyone else there wonders how you were able to bring a date that drop-dead gorgeous.