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Tucked away in the rough and tumble streets of Tombstone not far from the OK Corral of story and song  can be found one of the most unique wineries in the state.  Silver Strike Winery is a small production facility sourcing fruit at this point from Willcox, but from the future will be experimenting with some fruit sourced from a vineyard much closer to town.  Most of their wines are fermented in and aged on Stainless Steel, which is one reason why I chose the wine I did to bring home with me, since it is almost unheard of for a Cabernet Sauvignon to be aged entirely on steel.  They also don’t add sulfites to their wines.


NV Deep Core Cab, from Silver Strike Winery.

The Wine:  The Deep Core Cab is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, near Willcox. There is no vintage listed on the bottle, but I seem to recall Jann and Hank saying that this bottle was from the 2015 vintage.  (I lost my notes from the tasting room so I can’t be certain of my memory, sadly).  The wine was fermented in stainless steel, then aged in stainless steel before bottling.  This is the first Cabernet Sauvignon I’ve encountered that wasn’t a rose which was fermented and aged in steel, which I found to be interesting.  The color of this wine, as one would expect from most expressions of this varietal in Arizona, is light; a shade of ruby rather than dark crimson. Jann and Hank Bengel are the owners of Silver Strike Winery; Hank is the winemaker.

The Nose: The nose of this wine opens with notes of cherry, anise, black pepper, and cassis.  As the wine opens, notes of cocoa nibs and coffee also emerge from the glass, along with green pepper and plum, and that Willcox dust.

The Palate: On the palate, this wine has prominent cherry and plum notes, with hints of chokecherry, cocoa, and coffee, intermingling with black pepper and cinnamon.  As the wine opens, notes of green pepper and anise emerge onto the palate, along with the dusty flavor I associate with wines made from fruit from the Willcox AVA.  There’s a fair bit of tannins here, despite the wine not encountering any oak.  The finish of this wine lasts for 1 minute and 16 seconds, and is filled with notes of anise, pepper (both green and black), sour cherry, and dust.

The Pairing: I really wish the Persian restaurant in Cottonwood was BYOB, because I feel this would pair really well with the fare served there.  Middle-eastern cuisine with this wine would be a match made in heaven, whether with meat or without.  Focus on pairing with Lebanese or Persian cuisine, especially.

Impressions:  It’s really interesting to see the land shine through in this wine, unimpeded by oak.  The low sulfite content does make me worry about long-term age-ability (as does the clear bottle), so if you intend on aging this wine, temperature control and darkness are absolute essentials to keep in mind.

The wine itself is a grizzled old miner who is an expert cook.


Sunrise shows off the color of this wine best.