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Sand-Reckoner finally opened their long-awaited tasting room in the Tuscon Warehouse district this last weekend, and while I sadly was unable to descend from my mountaintop to join them, I did decide to drink yet another one of his lovingly-created Malvasia Bianca vintages. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make that sound like a chore; the 2013 Malvasia Bianca was a delight to drink.  I really hope to check out the space soon; from all accounts, it is an absolutely delightful space, located at the Tuscon Warehouse Arts district: 510 N 7th Ave, #170.

2013 Malvasia Bianca

The 2013 Malvasia Bianca from Sand-Reckoner is a good wine to sip by a rushing stream.

The Wine: The grapes for the 2013 Malvasia Bianca were sourced from the Sand-Reckoner Vineyard.  The grapes were destemmed and then spent 24 hours soaking on the skin.  The wine was fermented in neutral oak, with 8 months on the lees.  The 2013 Malvasia did not undergo malolactic fermentation. The winemaker, as with all Sand-Reckoner wines, was Rob Hammelman.

The Label: There’s some neat stuff going on here with the label of this wine; I want to talk about it because I think it’s pretty cool. As you may well have guessed, the name Sand-Reckoner is an homage to one of the greatest mathematicians of the ancient world, Archimedes. This particular label features an artistic interpretation by Thomas Ale Johnson of a particular calculus function: a visual homage to this mathematical theme. This function also appears on the label of the Rosé, but in a different color.

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, but also with a strong grassy note that is not present in earlier vintages.  This actually took me a bit off guard, as I was not expecting it.  (It is not a bad thing!  It adds to a strong “springtime” impression.)

The Palate:  On the palate, the 2013 Malvasia Bianca is similar to many others; a little bit more full-bodied, thanks to the lees aging.  Hints of lilac, honeydew melon, vanilla, jasmine, and elderflower are predominant, as are the aforementioned notes of lemongrass.  The classic limestone dust that’s present on most Willcox whites is also to be found on the finish (along with lemongrass, honeydew, and elderflower), which lasts for 49 seconds.

The Pairing: It’s hard for me not to recommend Malvasia with Pad Thai, like I always do, but the grassy notes in this vintage make me wonder about some new and innovative pairing ideas for this wine.  A Lemon-Basil pesto chicken dish strikes me as a dish with a lot of potential for pairing with this wine.

Impressions: Once again, a Malvasia I like a great deal, but the unique, grassy character of the nose and palate of this particular vintage remind me of some classic Sauvignon Blanc wines I’ve had from Sancerre–something out of the ordinary for Arizona Malvasia, at least for me.  This means new food pairings, new ideas, and new questions:

Is this something that’s actually a normal flavor during the aging process? Is it a result of barrel fermentation?  Is it a result of aging on the lees for shorter, rather than longer?  Or was it a result of weather conditions in the vineyard that were different in 2013 versus other years? The only answer, of course, is to drink a lot more and compare a lot of notes. I do enjoy wines that force me to think about new questions.

This particular Malvasia is a naturalist–perhaps working with the BLM or the Nature Conservancy in an attempt to restore the desert grasslands that once covered much of the state.  She wears a silver necklace with a pronghorn antelope, etched in silver, and earrings in the shape of Kestrels.  On her shoulder is a tattoo of a Loggerhead Shrike with an impaled butterfly.