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Rhone-style blends are, on average, the most common red you see in tasting rooms in Arizona.  Rhone-style White blends, though, are something I’ve found that I don’t see very much, as most people seem to prefer to leave their white vintages as single varietals. Sierra Bonita Vineyards, however, has two (or at least, had two in January) Rhone-style white blends that were very different, even though both blends were exactly the same year.  It’s a sign of just what a difference a year, and a bit of oak, can make. I’ll be examining the 2015 vintage in the future, most likely, but let’s look at the 2014 Hacienda Blanca first.

The 2014 Hacienda Blanca at Tonto Natural Bridge State park.

The Wine: The 2014 Hacienda Blanca (or “White Estate”) is a 50/50 blend of Marsanne and Grenache Blanc. The grapes were all sourced from the estate vineyard of Sierra Bonita Vineyards, located in the Willcox AVA. The wine was aged on 100% Stainless Steel. I acquired this bottle at the AWGA wine festival in January. The wine is a pale gold in color.

The Nose: This wine was described as a citrus bomb, and that’s no joke at all. Intense notes of Meyer lemon, lime, and citron form the opening of this wine, but there are additional subtle notes of apricot and red apple as well.  As the wine warms up from its original serving temperature, these citrus notes begin to fade, and the apricot and apple notes become more prominent.  Slight floral notes can be found: gardenia and orange blossom, specifically.

The Palate: The Citrus explosion continues on the palate, with bright notes of lime, and Meyer lemon.  As on the nose, additional notes of apple, pear, and apricot emerge as the wine warms, intermingling with peach, and Willcox dust. This is a fuller-bodied white blend compared to the average Malvasia, but not as full-bodied as most Arizona Viognier, with medium acidity.  The finish lasts for 34 seconds, filled with notes of peach, lemon, and limestone dust.

The Pairing: I would pair this wine with a greek-style chicken made with lemon and garlic, with a side of rice or Spanikopita. For a vegetarian pairing, I feel like this wine would go well with a medley of roasted zucchini and squash, dusted with a bit of sea salt and tarragon.

Impressions: I will admit I didn’t find this wine terribly complex, but, as I’ve stated countless times before, that’s not a bad thing. After all, these sorts of blends have been popular in the Rhone Valley for generations for good reason. It’s a good, simple white blend for a simple home-cooked meal, or on a warm day. That all being said, I feel that the red blends and varietals produced by Sierra Bonita Vineyard are a bit of a stronger presence, and I tend to like them a bit more because I like wines that make me think.

Personified, this wine is a quiet, easy-going gentleman in a Hawaiian shirt that likes to spend his time on the beach, reading a book, sipping margaritas under a parasol.