Apologies, the Wine Monk Blog is going to go on hiatus for a few days or so, due to life throwing a massive curveball. I hope you will understand. Thank you for your support.
Arizona, Arizona rosé, Arizona Terroir, arizona wine, Arizona Wineries, Arizona wines, AZwine, blended rosé, blends, Bordeaux Varietals, Chateau Tumbleweed, Cimmaron Vineyards, Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, italian varietals, Pillsbury Vineyard, Rosé, Rosé all day, Spanish varietals, Verde Valley, Verde Valley Wineries, Willcox, Willcox Bench, Willcox Grapes, willcox wines, wine
As the sun climbs higher and higher, we continue our Month of Rosé with the latest take of a yearly offering from Chateau Tumbleweed; as you recall, I reviewed the previous vintage not too long ago. The 2016 Rosé breaks with the largely single-varietal tradition previously practiced by this gang of self-proclaimed wine nerds, as we discussed in my previous entry… so we need to take a closer look.
The Wine: The most popular method of making a rosé in Provence, France (arguably the heartland of rosé in the world) is what is known as the direct press method. The fine folks at Chateau Tumbleweed chose this method to create their 2016 vintage, which is made of 45% Barbera (from Dragoon Mountain Vineyard), 35% Tempranillo (from Cimmaron Vineyards), and 25% Mourvedre (from Pillsbury Vineyards), all from the Willcox AVA. The wine, after the aforementioned direct press, underwent fermentation at 55 Degrees in stainless steel. There is less than .10 percent residual sugar in this vintage. It was aged in steel for 7 months. The color, despite being a direct press, is more reminiscent of the shade I tend to associate with Spanish Rosatos, rather than its French cousins; a rich, deep orange-pink color that is deeper and more vibrant than salmon. The winemaker was Joe Bechard.
The Nose: This 2016 rosé opens with intense notes of Strawberry, rhubarb, rosehips, creosote, and sage, with hints of tarragon and unripe plums as the wine opens up in the glass… assuming you let it sit that long.
The Palate: This wine is pretty juicy, with an intense, thirst-quenching acidity, and tastes remarkably like a strawberry rhubarb pie; notes of strawberries, rhubarbs, and baking spices are all present in this wine, along with peach and limestone. The finish of this wine lasts for 56 seconds, with notes of limestone, strawberries, and a little bit of thyme.
The Pairing: Peppermint mint patties or Klondike bars strike me as a good pairing for the 2016 rosé wine on a hot summer day, but if you want something more substantial, hot dogs (meat or otherwise) off the grill on a bun strike me as a pretty good companion to this wine. But this wine definitely also qualifies as a porch-pounder.
Impressions: The 2016 Rosé is another great offering from Chateau Tumbleweed. The unique taste profile combined with a gripping acidity means this that is going to be a great wine for the summer.
The homey, comforting Strawberry Rhubarb pie flavor makes me think of your cool hipster aunt who owns a bakery and always sends you a little something special for your birthday.
American oak, Arizona Terroir, arizona wine, Arizona Wineries, Arizona wines, az wine, AZwine, barrel making, barrels, Canton Cooperage, Cellar 433, David Day, French Oak, Hungarian Oak, Marselan, oak aging, podcast, Rhone varietals, Rune Vineyards, viognier, White wine, willcox wines, wine podcast, wine podcasts
Apologies for the odd posting schedule this month; Holy Week and Lent seems to do this to me every year, and invariably always catches me off guard with posts… but now we seem to be back on track. Ish. Which means it’s time for another podcast, and this is a fun one for the super curious, the super geeky, or both. This time around, I sat down with David Day of Canton Cooperage. We talked oak aging and barrel construction whilst drinking the 2013 Rune Viogner, and the Marselan from Cellar 433. Hang on tight, this podcast is a lot of fun!
Arizona, Arizona geology, Arizona Malvasia, Arizona Terroir, arizona wine, Arizona Wineries, Arizona wines, AWGA, AZwine, Bess Karner, Freitas Vineyards, Grand Arizona Wine Festival, italian varietals, Malvasia Bianca, podcast, Podcasts, The Cider Wench, Verde Valley Wineries, Verde Valley Wines, White wine, White Wines, wine podcasts
For the Arizona Wine Monk’s Very Special Arizona Statehood Day Podcast (Or, I guess, Valentine’s day Podcast also, or the St. Tryphon’s Day podcast… all three? Sure, why not?), you all finally get to meet my girlfriend, Elizabeth (Bess) Karner. Who wants to be called The Cider Wench.
More importantly, in this podcast, Bess meets Malvasia Bianca, my longest-lasting relationship and girlfriend wine, in the form of the 2011 Private Reserve from Freitas Vineyards, or as she calls it, “Captain Tightpants Bianca.” We also have fun talking about her experiences at the AWGA Gala dinner and awards ceremony, and her impressions of Arizona and our wines, as well as general nerdy things–fans of C.S. Lewis’ more obscure works should also take a listen.
This wine has been reviewed before on the Arizona Wine Monk blog here, so take a look at this original review as well; this was one of my favorite Arizona vintages of Malvasia and it’s sadly no longer available. In fact, this was the very Malvasia that made me fall in love with this grape.
Happy Arizona Statehood Day, guys! And Blessed feast of St. Tryphon the Pruner as well. And, um, St. Valentine’s day if you’re Catholic. (We Orthodox technically don’t celebrate until July.)
I haven’t quite finished with my next article for the blog in terms of wines (give me another day or so), but here’s some awesome news: Wine Enthusiast Magazine just published an article about our wine industry. Read it at the link below.
Arizona Viognier, AZ terroir, az wine, Callaghan Vineyards, Falanghina, Fiano, field blend, French Varietals, italian varietals, Kent Callaghan, Lisa, Malvasia, Malvasia Bianca, Marsanne, Petit Mansang, Sonoita, Sonoita AVA, Sonoita wineries, Sonoita wines, terroir, viognier, White blends, White wine, White Wines, wine
It’s been a while since I explored something made from Sonoita AVA fruit, and when I was last down, I finally gave Kent Callaghan his long-awaited (I assume, anyway) Turkish wines I brought back from the Queen of Cities last year. In return, Kent was kind enough to trade me a few bottles at his insistence, and this was one of the bottles I chose. I do like field blends…
The Wine: The 2014 Lisa’s is a field blend; part of a yearly series (or seems to be a yearly series). According to Kent Callaghan, this particular vintage has a high percentage of Viognier, with lesser amounts of Malvasia Bianca, and Marsanne in line. There are also small bits of Falanghina, Fiano, and Petit Manseng. I have to say, I do like field blends: it’s a good way to get a feel for a vineyard in a particular year. The wine was aged on roughly 10% new French oak; the rest of the barrels were neutral, and it was aged on the lees for 6 months. The Lisa field blends are named after his wife. The 2014 vintage is a friendly dandelion yellow in color.
The Nose: I was really surprised by this wine when I first opened the bottle and poured it into the glass, as I was expecting fruity and floral from what I knew of the blend. Instead, this wine opens up with strong herbaceous notes of lemongrass, lime, thyme, and white tea, intermingling with breadfruit and orange blossom. Once the wine opens, the overall aroma of this wine becomes more floral and fruity, with notes of vanilla, jasmine, gardenia, peach, cantaloupe, and pear intermingling with the breadfruit and lemongrass.
The Palate: Like the nose, the palate starts off with strong breadfruit and lemongrass notes, with hints of lavender, white tea, and thyme. As the wine opens, the palate changes: notes of tangerine, peach, green apple, and starfruit emerge and intermingle with the aforementioned herbal notes. This is a medium-bodied white wine with decent acidity, so it will pair well with a wide variety of foods. The finish of this wine is long, lasting for 1 minute 35 seconds, with notes of nutmeg, apricot, and flint.
The Pairing: I feel like this wine would pair well with a lavender/lemon roasted chicken, or some sort of smoked, lemon-braized oceanic sportsfish (like Marlin or the like), with a side of wild rice, and roasted vegetables. It could also pair well with bratwurst and sauerkraut. For a vegetarian or vegan pairing, a lentil coconut curry or saffron rice dish would work quite well, I think.
Impressions: This is one of the strangest, and most interesting whites to parse through that I’ve had in a while. I normally don’t recommend (or think about) decanting whites, but this time around, I would, simply because the nose and palate change so radically over time within this vintage. I also predict this wine should age quite well; it has a nice acidity, and the dramatic change in nose and palate suggests this attribute to me as well.
The Lisa’s is a sunny, friendly vintage, reminiscent of a friendly travel writer or food critic, or even a novelist. While friendly, there’s a lot of complexity here to reward the careful drinker.
Arizona, Arizona Merlot, arizona wine, Arizona Wineries, Arizona wines, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Blends, Bordeaux Varietals, Jason Domanico, Jerome, Jerome tasting rooms, Jerome Wineries, Merlot, Passion Cellars, Rolling View Vineyard, Salvatore Vineyards, Scottsdale Tasting Rooms, Willcox, Willcox Bench, Willcox Wine, Willcox Wineries, willcox wines
It’s not every day that you can watch the release of a wine that you’ve been watching and waiting for since the moment the grapes came off the vine; a wine you’ve been slowly watching ferment, then sleep quietly in barrel, and then in the bottle. But, luckily for me, that’s going to be this upcoming weekend with the release of the Salvatore Vineyards Merlot.
I’ve watched this wine at every step, tasted it at almost every point, and now it’s ready to be released into the world. This leads to a lot of interesting commentary on Merlot in Arizona, and why it’s unworthy of the shunning treatment that this grape has seen in spades since Sideways. Spoiler alert: this is one of my favorite single-varietal Merlot vintages I’ve tasted in Arizona, hands down.
The Wine: The grapes for this wine were harvested on August 14th, from Rolling View Vineyard. Rolling View Vineyard grows Merlot clone 181, and those vines were planted in 2005, making those vines just shy of 9 years old when the fruit came in. The fruit, as you can see in the below photo, was absolutely beautiful. After destemming and lightly crushing the grapes, the wine underwent a 5-day cold soak. The wine was inoculated on August 20 using a strain of yeast known as Vitilevure MT; this is a strain of yeast developed in Bordeaux for use specifically on Bordeaux varietals. This Merlot then underwent a maceration of 37 days, before being pressed and barreled. As winemaker Jason Domanico states, “The idea behind the Merlot from Rolling View was that it was such a small batch that we would experiment with some crazy risk taking, such as a longer-than average cold soak with extended maceration. But when I saw these grapes come in, I knew from that moment this wine would end up as something special.”
The wine was then aged in 1-year-old medium toast French oak barrels for 19 months, and was racked once in June of 2015. The Salvatore Merlot was then bottle-aged in special climate-controlled conditions for an additional 8 months before it’s release. The idea behind such long-term aging both in barrel and in bottle was to allow this wine to come to its full potential, along with evoking the long-term aging of Right-bank Bordeaux wines, which are made largely from Merlot, as part of the continuation of the small-batch experimentation process so characteristic of this particular wine.
The color of this particular vintage is much darker than many other Merlot wines I’ve encountered in Arizona, about equal in depth to the Whole Cluster Merlot from Chateau Tumbleweed, which is this wine’s only real rival in my opinion. (See more for some rambling on color and what it might all mean at the end at the end of this entry.) The takeaway point is that the 2014 Salvatore Merlot is as dark as some expressions of this varietal in California: a rich, deep jammy reddish purple in color.
The Nose: The nose of the 2014 Salvatore Merlot is quite rich, and deep, opening at first with notes of plum, tobacco, violets, sandalwood, and blackberry, intermingling with additional notes of anise, Willcox dust, and black currants. As the wine opens up during an extended decant, additional notes of cherry, chocolate, leather, cinnamon, and espresso emerge from the glass, forming a bouquet which is strikingly similar in my mind to a Willcox take on a Left-bank Bordeaux.
The Palate: The 2014 Salvatore Merlot is a decidedly full-bodied wine with a rich, nuanced palate. The wine opens with notes of plum, blackberry, and black currants, with hints of vanilla, sandalwood, and rich, leathery tannins which intermingle with more delicate, subtle notes of violets and bay leaves. After decanting for three hours, additional notes of tobacco, leather, sage, espresso, huckleberry, and anise emerge from the glass. There are intense, heavy tannins to be found in this wine. The finish is long, lasting for 2 minutes prior to decanting, and 3 minutes 32 seconds after a three hour decant, and is filled with notes of black cherry, nutmeg, violet, leathery tannins, and Willcox dust. This wine continued to be great even after opened for four days, just stating for the record.
The Pairing: Rich foods will be your friend with this wine. Pair this wine with a sumptuous Beef bourguignon, a peppercorn rib-eye steak with a side of scalloped potatoes and grilled asparagus, elk steaks, or even certain avian dishes made of roast duck or wild turkey. For a vegan or vegetarian pairing, go with roasted tomatoes, or a grilled portobello mushroom lightly seasoned with balsamic, salt, and pepper.
Impressions: As I mentioned above, the Salvatore 2014 Merlot is one of my favorite vintages of this grape to come out of any winery in Arizona. It is intensely rich, tannic, and on par, I feel, with some of the best Merlot anywhere in the world. The dark color is also fascinating, because I’ve noticed a great deal of variation in Merlot within Arizona; in fact, this variation can be seen within the tasting room of Passion Cellars itself.
Within the Passion Cellars tasting room right now, there is another 2014 Merlot, also single-varietal, this time made with fruit coming from Fort Bowie Vineyards. This Merlot is several magnitudes of order lighter in color than the Salvatore Merlot. Trying to determine just why this would be the case has been leading me down a rabbit hole of research trying to determine exactly why this is–as I’ve noticed that wines made from Fort Bowie fruit are consistently lighter in color generally, but especially with Merlot. Is this a climate issue? A result of terroir? Different clones? Is it because of the tendency of Fort Bowie vineyards to have been over-cropped back when it was a source of fruit? Or is it a combination of more than one of these factors? All I can say now is that I know in this particular case it’s decidedly not a result of different maceration times. This question has lead to some interesting discussions on my personal Facebook page with several local winemakers and growers that I’ll not repeat here, (as it’s a bit off topic and I’m already almost off the rails right now), but I plan on talking about possibly in a later blog post, as well as an upcoming Merlot podcast I hope to record in the next week.
Back on topic: the 2014 Salvatore Merlot will definitely reward you if you decant it, or the patient soul that is willing to cellar this wine for another year at the very least. I honestly feel that this wine is tannic enough to cellar for at least another 10 years, at the very least, and I expect it to begin peaking in another 3. If you don’t want to cellar this wine, I really recommend decanting this wine for no less than two hours, if you can. Decidedly feminine, this wine is curvaceous, sexy, and captivating, with a deep throaty laugh; the absolute life of the soirée wearing a fancy, backless deep violet dress. She’s a great dancer, and a fantastic kisser.
As I mentioned in the article which I posted two days ago, there was an associated podcast… and here it is! In this episode, Dina Marie Ribaudo, Gary Kurtz, Dave Meyers, and myself sit and drink the Six Grapes, and the Bastardo port while smoking cigars.
Also, in this one I get actively corrected and schooled by Gary about something, so be sure to listen to this podcast for that reason alone. 🙂
Arizona Sangiovese, Flying Leap, Flying Leap Vineyards, Flying Leap vineyards and distillery, italian varietals, red wine, red wines, Rolf, sangiovese, VCR 06, Willcox, Willcox AVA, Willcox Bench, Willcox Grapes, Willcox Wine, Willcox Wine Country, Willcox Wineries, willcox wines, wine, Wines, Wines of Willcox
It’s been a while since I reviewed anything from one of my favorite vineyards from down south, Flying Leap Vineyards. I spent a day down there helping at the Still with Rose and Rolf which will be a whole other post when I get around to talking about it–it was not only a lot of fun, but I learned a great deal and even got a poem out of it. Also, for the record, this is going to be an image-heavy post (and depending on if there’s snow tomorrow, there might still be more…) One of the last times I was in the Willcox tasting room, I grabbed a bottle of the Sangiovese Reserva. I tasted both… but I ended up liking the Reserva just a bit more, so that’s what I took home to review. But for those who took the other bottle, I didn’t want to leave you hanging on that harvest data, so I’m including that here. (And knowing me and my love of Sangiovese, I’ll probably grab a bottle of the Classico eventually.)
The Wine: The fruit for this wine was sourced from Block 1 of the Willcox Bench vineyard owned by FLV, in the Willcox AVA. The clone of Sangiovese which Flying Leap is growing is VCR 06, and these grapes are growing on their own roots, rather than on any particular rootstock. The Reserva forms part of a pair of Sangiovese wines found currently in the tasting rooms for Flying Leap, the other being the Classico. The grapes for the Reserva were harvested on September 14 at 25.5 Brix, and a pH of 3.57. The grapes for the Classico were harvested on September 21st, at 23.8 Brix. The Classico was aged in stainless steel, while the Reserva was aged in French Oak barriques for 12 months. The idea was to demonstrate two different styles of making wines from the same grape; a classic European style which is light and acidic, and a more “American” style (for lack of a better word). The Reserva has an absolutely lovely light garnet-purple color, not nearly as dark as the 2013 Sangiovese I reviewed previously. The wine was made by the FLV team of Rolf Sasse, Mark Beres, and Marc Moeller.
The Nose: On the nose, the Reserva opens with rich scents of cherry, raspberry, hazelnut, pipe tobacco (squadron leader–what else), Willcox dust, and sandalwood. As the wine opens, additional notes of rosemary, plum, monsoon petrichor, and lilac intermingle with the opening notes. This is a wine that benefits from being decanted, or simply by taking some time sipping your glass.
The Palate: The 2014 Reserva is a fuller-bodied Arizona Sangiovese, opening with explosive notes of juicy black cherries and blackberries underlain by leathery tannins, sandalwood, vanilla, pipe tobacco, and Willcox dust. After decanting, additional notes of rosemary, plum, rosehips, lilac, and sage dance on the palate. As one would expect from Arizona Sangiovese, there is a refreshing acidity in this wine that will lend itself well to pairing with food, though it is not as acidic as the Classico. The finish of this vintage is filled with notes of plum, vanilla, dust, and a stern backbone of tannins, lasting for 1 minute and 17 seconds.
The Pairing: I want to pair the 2014 Sangiovese Reserva with some sort of savory pork recipe, preferably some sort of garlic and pepper rubbed pork loin with a side of scalloped potatoes with parmesan and cheddar cheese with a little bit of truffle oil and grilled artichoke hearts. For a vegetarian pairing, stick with a five cheese lasagna, also with truffle oil. I feel like you’ll need something richer with this wine, and the truffle oil will add just that nice touch. Vegan pairing? A portobello mushroom sandwich with green and red peppers.
Impressions: With Sangiovese being one of my favorite grapes, it is hard for me to find one I don’t like (and when I do, I want to throw said winemaker down a mineshaft for somehow botching it–you just shouldn’t botch Sangiovese, ever), but there are expressions of this varietal that do stand out more than others. I will say that consistently, the expressions of Sangiovese made by the FLV team stand out even amidst foreign brethren, and the Willcox Bench seems to be the best place for this grape in the state, as shown by other examples such as the Kitsune from Caduceus, the various vintages of Sangiovese from Zarpara, and from barrel-tasting at the winery I work at. I’ve not been as pleased at Verde Valley vintages on the other hand, such as that from Freitas. The takeaway from all this rambling is that the Reserva is a fine example of an Arizona Sangiovese, one I would readily recommend to anyone wanting to explore one of (I think) Arizona’s best varietals.
This particular Sangiovese is your platonic opposite-gendered best friend, dressed up in a little black dress joining you for a night on the town to a fancy party where she knows she’ll run into your ex, and therefore, wants to help you make her jealous.
North of the Mogollon Rim lies a vineyard that promises to explore the terroir of a unique part of the state, in the town of Snowflake, Arizona. So far on site, they’ve planted Cabernet Franc, and I want to say Seyval or Vidal Blanc, and one other grape…. but I can’t rightly remember which right now, dang it. (They are also involved with a few plantings of Barbera located near Dewey, which I also am very curious to taste eventually.) In the meantime, while the vineyards owned by Mogollon Vineyards grow and develop, they are sourcing fruit from Rolling View Vineyards to make their first vintages.
The Wine: The 2015 Chardonnay is made with 100% Willcox AVA fruit coming from Rolling View Vineyard, near Willcox, AZ. I get the impression this wine was fermented in and aged in stainless steel, though the possibility of neutral oak does exist. It’s a bright straw color in the glass.
The Nose: Bright green apples, peach, cinnamon, and gardenia form the opening salvo of this wine’s nose. As the wine opens, notes of honey, passionfruit, and flint dust emerge from the glass.
The Palate: Notes of red and green apples intermingle with notes of peaches, honey, and Meyer lemon. This wine is crisp, with some nice acidity which will lend itself well to pairing. The finish of this wine lasts for 46 seconds, and is filled with notes of limestone dust (which one would expect coming from Willcox fruit), lemon zest, and apple.
The Pairing: The acidity and bright flavor of this wine worked really well with the Lumberjack Hash from The Mine Cafe, in Jerome: a breakfast dish made with jackfruit in BBQ sauce and russet potatoes with a few other vegetables.
Impressions: It never fails to strike me how different and unique Arizona Chardonnay is from anywhere else in the world, or maybe it’s just that I don’t drink much of this varietal in general, to form a comparison between my fair landscape and those farther afield where this grape seems to be more popular (Napa and Burgundy, especially). This wine is nothing like anything coming out of California save for one or two stainless steel Chardonnays coming from the Russian River Valley; I’ve not had enough White Burgundy in recent memory to comment one way or the other. (Maybe that’s something I should attempt next year)
This particular vintage is bright and friendly; like that exuberant person in the office that is always cheery and positive–authentically so. He just wants you to be happy too, and often brings in cookies for his coworkers.
Right now, the tasting room for Mogollon Vineyards is open by appointment only, so be sure to make an appointment at their website.