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As I’ve mentioned before, the Southwest Wine Center is a fantastic resource for future winemakers in Arizona, with a full production winery and vineyard for students to get hands-on practice with the specific viticultural conditions within the state of Arizona. The 2016 Sunlight is, to my knowledge, the second wine made with estate Verde Valley fruit, and the first white! Let’s dig in.

2016 Sunlight

The 2016 Sunlight, from the Southwest Wine Center, at dawn.

The Wine: The 2016 Sunlight is a blend of 62% Malvasia Bianca, 38% Viognier, sourced from the vineyards at the Southwest Wine Center.  It is the second estate wine released by the college. The wine was fermented in stainless steel, and then aged in neutral American oak. It is a bright straw yellow in color.

The Nose: The nose of the 2016 Sunlight is heavily influenced by the Malvasia in this blend.  This wine has aromas of fresh green growing things, apricot, flowers, grass, peach, quince, jasmine, and cliff rose, intermingling with a hint of white pepper and meyer lemon.

The Palate: While the nose is Malvasia influenced, the palate is heavily influenced by the Viognier. The 2016 Sunlight is a medium-bodied white wine with medium acidity. Notes of apricot, siltstone, citrus, white pepper, and apple intermingle with honeydew melon, guava, and the telltale floral notes of Malvasia.  The finish has notes of baking spices, guava, limestone, and lasts for 40 seconds.

The Pairing: I want to pair this wine with enchiladas, made of chicken and green chili. It would work with Thai food, but not as well as most full Malvasia vintages.

Impressions: The 2016 Sunlight is an intriguing blend that holds much promise, though I personally found it a little underwhelming and disjointed, and was missing something; maybe acidity, maybe something else. The Viognier and Malvasia, I feel, did not integrate terribly well with one another, but it is possible that this wine will further integrate over time, and I imbibed this wine too young.

Furthermore, I feel that if this wine had an additional varietal, say Picpoul, this wine would have totally been a rock star. I know that Picpoul is grown at the college, but I’m unsure when the ETA for the first harvest of that crop is. A similar blend with even 10% Picpoul would truly shine like a beacon, in my opinion.