Verde Valley Wine Consortium Podcast #1: Marselan


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Marselan! In this podcast, sponsored by the Verde Valley Wine Consortium (and hopefully the start of a new sub-series), a few of us sat down and explored this fascinating Cabernet Sauvignon x Grenache cross. We drank three bottles; two from Page Springs Cellars, and one from Jerome Winery. Take a listen!

Laramita Cellars: 2016 Rosé


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As I mentioned before when talking about this label’s Roussanne, Laramita Cellars is a new label from Willcox created by Greg Gonnerman, the owner of Chiricahua Ranch Vineyards in Willcox.  Mr. Gonnerman’s fruit is highly sought after by many Arizona winemakers such as Kent Callaghan, Rob Hammelman, and Ray Stephens, so I’m excited that this label is being released, and I look forward to seeing Greg’s own work with his grapes.  On that note, let’s take a look at the 2016 Laramita Cellars Rosé.

For the record, we’re almost finished with my June special series on Rosé… Which will go into July, apparently, as I have at least two other wines I want to talk about after this one. I suppose I need to drink faster!

2016 Laramita Cellars Rosé

The 2016 Laramita Cellars Rosé in the coo; forests of the Mogollon Rim.

Label Notes: Featured on the 2016 Rosé label is Energia by Arizona artist Marina Rynning. The plan is that each year the rosé label will feature new contemporary art by various Arizona artists.

The Wine: The 2016 Laramita Cellars Rosé is a maceration-style rosé; the main difference between this style and the direct press style is that the juice spends a little more time on the grape skins, thereby creating a more vibrant color. (And boy, howdy, is the color of this wine fantastic: a rich, shocking rose pink.)  This wine was made from 100% Mourvèdre, sourced from Greg Gonnerman’s Chiricahua Ranch Vineyard, near Willcox.  The grapes were harvested at 21.5 Brix.  Rhone4600 was the yeast used to make this vintage, which spent over 12 hours on the skins.  This vintage was made at the Sand-Reckoner facility by Rob Hammelman and Greg Gonnerman.

The Nose: At serving temperature, the nose of the 2016 Laramita Cellars Rosé opens with Bing cherry and raspberry; as the wine opens, different fruity notes of apricot, passionfruit, and guava emerge, intermingling with orange peel, sagebrush, and limestone.

The Palate:  This wine opens with Grapefruit, passionfruit, peach, persimmon, and raspberry. The finish lasts for 43 seconds, with notes of limestone and sage, intermingling with high acidity.

The Pairing:  I paired this Rosé with a nice day up along the Mogollon Rim, but cheeses like Manchego would work well with this vintage.  You could also serve this wine with a light chicken dinner, or baba ghanoush as a vegetarian pairing.

Impressions:  This solid, food-friendly, feminine rose strikes me as being somewhat indifferent, and rather academic: kind of like an Ornithologist who prefers field work, but is stuck teaching summer courses.  It’s simple and refreshing, but that’s what makes a good summer Rosé.

I do admit this is probably my favorite Mourvèdre Rosé I’ve tasted outside of France.  Drink this vintage now, or save it for Thanksgiving.

2016 Laramita Cellars Rosé

Here it is again at the edge of the Rim.

oDDity Wine CollectiVe: 2016 Idiopinkracy


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Perhaps it isn’t terribly surprising that the geeky folks at oDDity have decided to make something completely different from their cohorts: it’s in their name, after all.  They have committed to making unusual vintages, and have been living up to that promise with every vintage they’ve made thus far.  So when I heard last crush season that they were going to make a rosé from something completely different, I got really excited. When I first tasted the 2016 Idiopinkracy… I fell in love instantly.


The 2016 Idiopinkracy, pretty in pink, overlooking the Verde Valley.

The Wine: Sourced from Deep Sky Vineyards down on the Willcox Bench in the Willcox AVA, the 2016 Idiopinkracy is made from 100% Counoise, an obscure hipster grape from the Southern Rhone Valley that has its share of die-hard fans. (We explored a bit of the history and viticulture of this grape in a few previous examinations, so I won’t repeat all of that information again). This whole-cluster press rosé was fermented in Stainless Steel. After fermentation, the wine was aged in a neutral barrel of American oak, which I think granted this wine a great deal of its unique character. Malolactic fermentation was inhibited. This wine is a copper-salmon shade of color.

The Nose: Bright notes of juicy watermelon, bubble gum, apricot, mint, and vanilla, open up the nose, intermingling with more subtle notes of nutmeg, white flowers, limestone dust, sagebrush, and cardamon.

The Palate: This rosé totally tastes to me like the Platonic ideal of bubble gum (or Juicy Fruit), intermingling with a slight bit of mint, strawberry, watermelon, and refreshing limestone minerality along with a gripping acidity and subtle hints of vanilla limestone, and caramel on a finish that lasts for 45 seconds.  As the wine opens, additional notes of grapefruit, apricot, and cardamon emerge on the palate.

The Pairing: The Idiopinkracy is going to pair fantastically with a smoked brisket featuring a simple dry rub; the acidity would just cut straight through the fat.  For a vegetarian or vegan pairing, a super-spicy Chili with nopales, onion, and, of course, the fake meat stuff.

Impressions: This, I admit, is my first Counoise rosé, and I dig it.  Out of the rosé vintages I’ve been drinking this month, this is among my top three, for sure.  The unique flavor profile, combined with bracing acidity makes this a top contender.  Drink this now, as the monsoon starts to break.

Personified, the Idiopinkracy reminds me of a pinup model lounging on a couch; she lays on her back, heels in the air, innocently blowing bubblegum bubbles.

Only 24 cases of this wine were produced, and when I last talked to Bree (on the night of June 24th) there were only 8 cases left… so grab it before it’s gone.  You can find it at Four-Eight Wineworks, at $30 a bottle.

Podcast: Dos Cabezas Sparkling Pink on the Beach


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2016 Dos Cabezas Sparkling Pink

Rosé on the Beach.

I just got back from visiting my girlfriend Bess out in Rhode Island and let me tell you, I already miss the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean after just a couple days back here in the desert. Luckily, I’ve got a nice stash of soothing Rosé to drink to cool me down. And, I even take some of my goods with me back east. I decided I’d take my can of the 2016 Sparkling Pink from Dos Cabezas with me to drink on the beach for my vacation. 

Bess and I drank it on the shores of a quiet bay in Rhode Island, while blowing bubbles and watching terns fly overhead. Why don’t you take a moment out of the heat and join us for an hour, and relax for a bit?
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Freitas Vineyard: 2011 Dolce Vita


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A few weeks ago I was hanging out at Vino de Sedona, and I happened to tell Rebecca about my plans for exclusively reviewing Rosé for the month of June in this blog. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “The new vintage of Freitas Rosé is out!” She was kind enough to send me home with a bottle. This is a good thing, as rosé wines made from grapes in the Verde Valley are few and far between.  It’s an even better thing since I would have been short of a Rosé for a full month of reviews, since I discovered to my dismay that my 2012 Merlot Rosé from Charron Vineyards was corked (which is always a tragedy). So, here we are!  Thanks again, Rebecca!

2011 Dolce Vita

The 2011 Dolce Vita in the ruins of Old Jerome.

The Wine: The 2011 Dolce Vita is a rosé made with 100% Sangiovese, sourced from the Freitas Estate vineyard in Cottonwood, Arizona. The vineyard is on alluvial gravel and soils overlying the Verde Formation.  I don’t have the production data on hand for this wine, but judging from my examination, I suspect this wine was fermented in stainless steel, after being pressed and cold-soaked for a day or two. (It *might* be a saignée, however, as I know Freitas has done Sangiovese and Sangiovese blends in the past that are pretty dark.)  The wine is off-dry, probably with 1-2% residual sugar. Age is starting to affect the color of this wine; some bricking can be seen on the rim of the wine in the glass, so it fades from rust-orange to salmon pink.  (This is perfectly normal in aging wines.)

The Nose: Notes of watermelon, apricot, kumquat, strawberry, and cantaloupe intermingle with aromas of clay, sagebrush, and sea salt.

The Palate:  This medium-bodied Rosé opens with notes of caramelized marshmallow, apricot, and watermelon intermingling with mint, sage, and cherry.  The medium acidity in this wine plays well with the residual sugar found within. The finish lasts for 44 seconds, with notes of apple, vanilla, sea salt, limestone, and sage.  The acidity of this wine lingers longer on the palate than other parts of the flavor profile.

Pairing: I feel that the 2011 Dolce Vita would pair well with a chicken pesto dish, or, better yet, a pesto pizza. You might also be able to get away with pairing this wine with calamari for a Lenten pairing.  For a vegetarian or vegan pairing, serve this wine with a Moroccan-style Couscous dish.

Impressions:  I like this wine better than I did the full on dry Sangiovese I reviewed previously, as well as the previous 2010 Vintage of the Dolce Vita, which I felt was much sweeter.  This wine has a good balance between the residual sugar and the acidity which is very much prevalent in Sangiovese–let alone that higher acidity so prevalent in Verde Valley wines.  It is light and juicy.

This wine makes me think of strawberry blonde tomboy who tends to beat her friends in swordfights and wants to be an Ornithologist when she grows up.

Chateau Tumbleweed: 2016 Rosé


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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.

2016 Rosé

The 2016 Rosé from Chateau Tumbleweed in all of its geeky glory.

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.

Passion Cellars: 2014 Second Love Rosé


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I’m going to tell you guys something you don’t know that may blow your mind.  Or you may already know about it, in which case, well on you!  Ready for that knowledge?

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris isn’t actually a white grape at all. It’s actually what ampelographers call a “Gray grape.” (This actually makes sense if you know French, as “gris” is the word for gray… let alone German, which calls it “Grauburgunder” up front with Teutonic forthrightness.) A gray grape is a grape which has a, well, grayish, appearance. This is due to some red pigments in the skins, but not enough to make a red wine. (See the photo at the end of this review for what I’m talking about.) Therefore, most winemakers choose to make white wines exclusively from these grapes… but you can make a Rosé from them, either purposely (or accidentally). This is a style that you can occasionally find in Alsace or parts of Italy. The folks at Passion Cellars did a Pinot Grigio this way in 2014, when creating the Second Love Rosé.

Second Love Rosé

The Second Love Rosé from Passion Cellars atop the Mogollon Rim.

The Wine:  The Second Love Rosé was made from fruit sourced from Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, in the Willcox AVA. The grapes were crushed and destemmed, and then pressed with a basket press. Fermented (and aged) in stainless steel, the intent was to create a white wine, but things didn’t quite go as planned. Previous vintages made of Pinot Grigio by the winemaker had lost their pinkish tint during fining and filtering, but the color remained this time around, so it was decided to bottle it as a Rosé in the Alsatian style. The Winemaker was Jason Domanico; I was present on the crush pad when these grapes arrived. A little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon from Fort Bowie was added to the blend (less than five percent) to increase acidity and keep the color stable. This wine was named “Second Love Rosé,” as it was the second rosé made by Passion Cellars, and the first was called “Love.”

The Nose: The nose opens with notes of peaches, apircots, grapefruit, and lychee. Additional notes of rosehips, grapefruit, strawberry, and muskmelon emerge in the glass when the wine has been open for a while, intermingling with a touch of minerality that is reminicent of mineral water on a hot day.

The Palate:  The palate of the Second Love Rosé opens with notes of rosehips, peaches, and unripe starberrery, intermingling with notes that are reminicent of limestone and pink Himalayan seasalt. There is plenty of hearty acidity to be found on the palate. The Finish lasts for one minute and four seconds, leaving notes of seasalt, dried straw, rose, hibiscus, and limestone as it fades away.

The Pairing: Serve this wine with smoked salmon, with a side of wild rice and roasted bok choy. If you’re not a fan of fish, wings with a rosemary herb rub will also work. For a vegetarian/vegan pairing, serve the Second Love Rosé with a Tuscan bean soup.

Impressions: This wine was so incredibly popular in the Jerome tasting room that it is now gone from that location; it is possible that bottles may still remain in the Scottsdale and Willcox locations.  Serve this wine, if you still have a bottle, at about 45-50 Degrees Fahrenheit. This is a fun exploration into a rarely-seen style for Pinot Grigio, and I was rather fond of it.

The Second Love Rosé is kind of like the flirtation you had when you were a teenager over the summer while staying at Summer Camp. your time together was brief, and you used to write letters, but now… not anymore.  You remember her with fondness on bright summer days when you stand by running water, under cool stream breezes and swaying pine trees.

Second Love Rosé

Pomace from the Pinot Gris press; note the reddish color of the grape!

Second Love Rosé

Bonus shot of Sarah Gianelli on the crush pad during the Pinot Gris press. Again, note just how dark the color of the juice is.

Caduceus Cellars: 2014 Lei Li Rosé


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Nebbiolo is a grape shrouded in the mists of legend, producing some of the best reds found in its homeland of the Piedmont. It’s a grape we’ve seen before several times on this blog; I’ve even explored a previous vintage of this same wine before.  Let’s look at the 2014 vintage of the Lei Li Rosé.

2014 Lei Li Rosé

The 2014 Lei Li Rosé, photographed at the Verde Valley Wine Festival.

The Wine: This rusty, salmon-colored rosé is the last of its kind for Caduceus; the last Nebbiolo rosé made by Maynard from fruit sourced from Bonita Springs Vineyard, in Graham County, in the Willcox AVA. (Future vintages will be sourced from blocks in the Verde Valley.) The 2014 Lei Li Rosé was made in the direct press method and was aged in both stainless steel and neutral French oak puncheons.

The Nose: The 2014 Lei Li Rosé opens with notes of earth, raspberry, apricot, and mint. Interestingly, this wine also has just a hint of the classic “tar-and-roses” notes which are often associated with Nebbiolo in its Urheimat, which is pretty neat.

The Palate: On the palate, this wine has notes of chokecherry, mint, white tea, and heirloom melons, intermingled with white chocolate and peach.  The finish lasts for 52 seconds, with notes of mint, white chocolate, limestone dust, and strawberry. This mid-bodied wine has good acidity, which is pretty standard for an Arizona Rosé.

The Pairing: The tannins in the 2014 Lei Li Rosé mean that this is a vintage one could potentially pair with pork chops using a rosemary marinade, or rosemary garlic hot wings.  Okay, so I like pairing rosé with hot wings.  It works, okay?  For a vegetarian pairing, I feel like this wine will pair well with a whole host of Indian dishes.

Impressions: It’s my opinion that Nebbiolo is, with some exceptions, best suited for Rosé production in Arizona; this particular vintage is no exception.  I admit I don’t like the 2014 vintage of the Lei Li Rosé as much as I liked the 2012 vintage, but it’s still quite lovely.  This wine is a friendly archaeologist who prefers to spend his time on dig sites along the Mogollon Rim, rather than teaching students.

Chateau Tumbleweed: 2015 Rosé


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I forgot we reached an important milestone on The Arizona Wine Monk blog recently, where we passed 300 different reviews of different Arizona wines. I think this says a lot about the vibrancy of the state of our industry, where I can record 300 different vintages and not come close to exhausting the potential of the wines here in this state.  Here’s hoping for another 300!  To celebrate, here’s another Barbera that didn’t make it into the Barbera Podcast I recorded New Year’s Eve due to lack of time: the 2015 Rosé from Chateau Tumbleweed.

By the waters of Jerome, we drank Rosé of Barbera from Chateau Tumbleweed.

The Wine: Arriving at the winery at 23.1 Brix, the grapes that went into the 2015 Rosé are 100% Barbera, sourced from Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, in the Willcox AVA.  These grapes were cold-soaked for 24 hours, then whole-cluster pressed. The subsequent juice was chilled and settled for 48 hours, before racking and inoculation.  The wine was fermented in stainless steel for 26 days at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Aged entirely in stainless steel, the 2015 Rosé was allowed to undergo a native malolactic fermentation. The wine saw minimal cold stabilization and no heat stabilization.  The wine is filtered, but unfined–(the exact opposite of the Chateau Tumbleweed staff. Kidding.  You know I love you). The color of this wine is an intense, vibrant pink.

The Nose: At cellar temperature, the nose of the 2015 Rosé opens with aromas of Strawberry, cherry, watermelon, peach, and orange peel.  When chilled to serving temperature (45 degrees), this rosé also gains a minty aspect to the nose.

The Palate:  This light-bodied, high acid Rosé opens with notes of strawberry, watermelon, and orange peel, intermingling with notes of limestone and white tea. The finish lasts for 1 minute and 20 seconds, with notes of juicy persimmon, watermelon, lingering acidity, and limestone dust.

The Pairing: Pair the 2015 Chateau Tumbleweed Rosé with tacos featuring fish or tempura shrimp.  For a vegetarian pairing, serve this wine with pita bread and Baba ghanoush.

Impressions: The 2015 Rosé from Chateau Tumbleweed is a classic, Italian-style dry rosé which to me is very similar to wines coming from the Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo DOC. Light, juicy, and savory, this wine is sure to delight any lover of rosé.  If you have any bottles of this wine left, I wouldn’t cellar it past September.  Drink now, while the sun is at its harshest.

Personified, I feel this wine is a happy marathon runner; her strawberry blonde hair in a pigtail.  She’s peppy and exuberant.

2015 Rosé

I had a lot of fun photographing this wine.

Carlson Creek Vineyard: 2015 Grenache Rosé


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Most wineries in Arizona make at least one rosé wine, often from their first vintage. However, it took a while for Carlson Creek Vineyards to get on board. I grabbed this bottle of their 2015 Grenache rosé on release day down in the new Scottsdale tasting room, just down the road from Salvatore Vineyards and Aridus. (I don’t always make it for wine release days, and it was a lucky coincidence) Let’s take a look.

2015 Grenache Rosé

The 2015 Grenache Rosé from Carlson Creek, paired with a Lavender sky.

The Wine: Robert Carlson reports that the 2015 Grenache Rosé was made in the saignée style, and fermented (as well as aged) in stainless steel.  The fruit was sourced from Carlson Creek Vineyard, one of the largest vineyards on the Willcox Bench.  It’s one of the bigger Rosé vintages I’ve seen, clocking in at 15% Alcohol. This wine is a vibrant salmon pink color.  As you would have guessed from the name, this wine is made from 100% Grenache.

The Nose: This is wine with many rich, varied aromas.  Notes of vanilla, cliff rose, rose hips, gardenia, peaches, strawberries, and raspberry intermingles with notes of watermelon and caramelized marshmallows as the wine opens.

The Palate: I would classify the 2015 Grenache Rosé as a medium-to-full-bodied Rosé, as there is a fair bit of weight to the palate. The palate opens up with notes of bing cherry, raspberry, strawberry, gardenia, and peach. This wine has medium acidity. One of the biggest flavors I get from this wine on the palate as it opens up is a juicy characteristic that reminds me a great deal of watermelon jolly ranchers.  The finish of this wine lasts for 55 seconds, with notes of sea salt, limestone, ocotillo, raspberry, and a tiny hint of anise. It’s a bit hot in terms of alcohol, but that’s something that can be

The Pairing: The full-bodied character of this vintage means it can stand up to heavier food than most Rosé wines. I really want to pair this wine with super hot wings with blue cheese; I think the heat of the wings and the creamy nature of the blue cheese will work rather well with the higher alcohol content and bigger flavors of this wine.  For a vegetarian pairing, do something using jackfruit with buffalo sauce instead of barbeque sauce; maybe with some sort of hummus dip.

Impressions: Long-time readers and those who know me rather well know that I don’t tend to have an overly high opinion of Arizona Grenache, as I feel this wine is best-suited to Rosé and brandy-making, with some key exceptions. This is a stellar example of a good Grenache Rosé in Arizona.

Personified, I feel like this wine is reminiscent of an extreme beach bum and surfer; someone who travels the world to catch the biggest waves, and performs slam poetry describing his experiences.