I was lucky enough to score a few tickets for the release party honoring the new Provisioner vintages last Thursday. I don’t get to go to these sort of events very often. It was great fun, with some fantastic food, and of course, bull-riding. The strangest thing, though, was not being the only person around wearing a bolo tie. Anyway, enough preamble; let’s talk about the party. And of course, the wines. The party was at the monOrchid in Phoenix, and sponsored by Arizona Stronghold.
One of my biggest concerns and questions I’ve had about the Provisioner project is what the fate of the Provisioner label would be with the destruction of Fort Bowie last January, the first fatality of the Year of Flint Knives. I asked Corey Turnbull about the future sources for this label, and finally had an answer. For the 2016 vintage anyway, much of the fruit will come from Bonita Springs, which produced an abundance of fruit compared to the harsh frost year of 2015. The vintages released this year we’re the 2015 wines; another last gasp from Fort Bowie.
In the longer term, there are discussions with John McLaughlin of Dragoon Vineyards to plant extra vines purely for the production of the Provisioner label. The planting of these vines might be paid for by agricultural grants, and would also require a long-term agreement between all those involved. A long-term agreement and the use of grants would keep the price of the resulting wines low. After all; the Provisioner label is designed to make Arizona wine accessible to the average consumer, the “wine for the people.”
While I admit they aren’t my favorite vintages to come out of Arizona, for the price, they’re good. Indeed, these wines are better in my opinion than many California vintages that are sold for the same price range. They do what they are supposed to do, and do it rather well.
As for the wines in question: I’m not sure what the Rosé is blended from off hand (I couldn’t find any information about this year’s release).
The Provisioner White is a blend of 61% French Columbard, 21% Chenin Blanc, 11% Pinot Gris, and 7% Malvasia Bianca. As a firm, medium-bodied white, it has a lot to recommend for it in terms of pairing versatility, though I feel that the acidity of this vintage is a little low compared to most Arizona whites. On a similar note, I feel that this wine is not super-representative of Arizona’s best whites–but as an introduction, it works quite well. (I feel like an ideal “Arizona” white would be a blend of Malvasia, Viognier, Picpoul, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vermentino, but that’s just my take on what seems to be consistently good, and I’m not sure how I’d combine them.) I’m quite curious about future vintages of Provisioner without Bowie fruit, since Columbard and Chenin Blanc are (or rather, were) practically exclusive to Fort Bowie of Blessed memory.
The Provisioner Red is a blend of 34% Merlot, 30% Sangiovese, 22% Grenache, and 14% Pinot Noir. It’s an approachable mid-bodied red blend that will pair well with foods thrown on the grill. For that matter, it will work with comfort foods consisting of family recipes that have been passed down through several generations. I feel that this wine is more representative of the Arizona industry. The reason for this is that everyone unanimously agrees that Sangiovese is one of the best grapes produced in Arizona… And everyone else seems in agreement that Grenache does well here in Arizona. (For what it’s worth: my ideal Arizona representative blend would include Tempranillo, Tannat, and Syrah along with the grenache and Sangiovese, but that might be too tannic.)
Fun Statistic: at 14% over 1800 cases and 560 kegs, the Pinot Noir in this blend probably represents close to half of the production of Pinot Noir in Arizona, as there are only five vineyards that grow this grape in the state (that I’m aware of), and two of them are controlled by Glomski.
There was a lot of great food, and great music to be had at the party as well, along with some fantastic art, and even a mechanical bull… I’ll just let the pictures tell the story from here on out!
Anyway, it was a great party. Next year’s will also be quite a bit of fun, I think…