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The Southwest Wine Center, as I’ve stated before, is focused around educating the future members of the Arizona wine industry. The students make their wines, and they’re all good. In fact, the Mourvèdre I reviewed earlier this summer picked up grand accolades at the Jefferson Cup in Missouri recently. Last year, they experimented with a Beaujolais style wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon that was a big hit. This year, they experimented again, and the result is the 2017 Amphoria, which I personally like more than last year’s experiment. (They also made a lot more of this year’s experiment, which is a Very Good Thing, as far as I am concerned.)

2017 Amphoria

The 2017 Amphoria: a memory of summer in a cold winter world.

The Wine: The 2017 Amphoria Rosé is made from 100% Sangiovese, sourced from the Yavapai College Vineyard in Clarkdale, Arizona. I actually helped pick the grapes that went into this wine, so it’s really neat to drink this. The wine was made utilizing carbonic maceration, the same method used to make Beaujolais Nouveau, as well as the New Wine from Garage-East. (I explained the process in that entry, so go and take a look there.) What also makes this wine so unique and experimental is that after fermentation and press, this wine was aged in replica Roman amphorae created by SWC student Tom Schumacher. The wine was, like all wines from the Southwest Wine Center, made by the students of the Viticultural and Enology program at Yavapai College. The 2017 Amphoria is medium-bodied rosé which is a lovely light salmon pink hue.

The Nose: The 2017 Amphoria opens with aroma notes of grapefruit, pomelo, fennel,  and sage, rounding out with hints of strawberry, peach blossom, and acacia blossom. Subtle hints of minerality and the faintest hint of black pepper lurk beneath the fruit, herbs, and flowers.  As the wine opens in the glass, notes of apple, apricot, and rose petals emerge.

The Palate: This wine is a well-integrated, medium-bodied rosé with mouthwatering acidity and slight tannins. There is a hefty load of citrus on the palate, with notes of pomelo and grapefruit intermingling with strawberry, rosehips, sage, papaya, and acacia. The finish of the 2017 Amphoria lasts for 52 seconds, filled with notes of papaya, guava, pomelo, thyme, with subtle hints of black pepper, coriander, and pottery/schist.  

The Pairing: I really want to pair the 2017 Amphoria with roasted goose. Or quail, cooked in a coq au vin style.  Birds, in general, strike me as a good pairing for this wine.  Rich Chinese food dishes would also potentially work well, offering a vegetarian or vegan pairing option, if that is your thing.

Impressions:  This is a great local rose made in an interesting way, and I suspect that the minerality notes are actually imparted by the use of Amphorae to age this wine, as they seem to have the same “placement” in the palate structure that oak tends to (at least, for me), and it is a different sort of minerality than I typically associate with whites and rosé coming from Willcox.  (I will put on my geologist hat for a moment here: the minerality in this vintage is more like licking a piece of schist, or even ancient Hohokam pottery, rather than a piece of limestone.)

Now, the question from a neuroenological perspective is: Is my brain tricking me into thinking this, or is it an actual flavor difference? (Is neuroenological a word? It needs to be a word.) I honestly don’t know, but what I do know is that I get this same schist-earthenware flavor note in the few Qveri-aged Georgian wines I’ve tried over the years, which are aged in a similar style. That’s the neat thing about this wine; it’s a good conversation starter between wine geeks.

Personified, this wine makes me think of sitting inside on a cold winter’s day, staring at snow out the window, and wishing for wildflowers and roses in springtime.  This bottle is drinking great now (which makes sense, considering the style), but I suspect could age for another year easily.  I do not recommend aging this wine for more than a year.

2017 Amphoria

These are some of the grapes that went into this vintage.