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Long-time readers know about my penchant for Malvasia Bianca. It’s been a while since I’ve poked at anything from Aridus, and it’s high time I return to one of the largest winery production facilities in Willcox. Aridus began as a custom crush site but has quickly emerged as a winery in its own right. This winery has two tasting rooms; one in Willcox, the other in Scottsdale. One of the last times I was in Scottsdale, I picked up a bottle of the then newly-released 2015 Malvasia Bianca. I had last tasted this wine in the fermentation tank with Leah Shanker, the winemaker, so I was curious about the end result.
The Wine: The 2015 Malvasia Bianca was sourced from Al Buhl Memorial Vineyard in the Willcox AVA. This wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, and fermentation was cut off at 45 grams per Liter of sugar. This, assuming my math is correct (and it’s a big assumption), means that this vintage has 4.5% residual sugar. Aging of this wine also occurred in stainless steel. The wine was put into Alsatian-style split bottles to indicate it’s status as a sweeter wine.
The Nose: The nose of this particular vintage is pretty standard for an Arizona Malvasia. Floral notes of elderflower, jasmine, and lavender are prominent, intermingling with honeydew melon, banana, and baking spice.
The Palate: The palate of the 2015 Malvasia Bianca is overall quite similar to an average Arizona Malvasia. Notes of elderflower, apple, honeydew melon, lime, and jasmine fill the palate. It is the finish of this wine that is unique; filled with notes of flint, honey, banana, baking spices, and sugar. The finish lasts for 55 seconds. It did not seem as acidic as most varietal wines made with this grape, but that could be a result of the residual sugar.
The Pairing: A dear friend of mine sent me some shortbread cookies with cinnamon and nutmeg for Christmas, and they paired perfectly with this wine. This was a happy coincidence. The fact that this is a sweeter version of this grape means this will pair well with cheesecake, or creme brulee as well. You could also pair this like a traditional Malvasia with particularly spicy Thai food as well.
Impressions: I don’t have a sweet tooth, so for me, the 2015 Malvasia Bianca was just way too sweet. I hate to say this, but this is probably my least favorite Malvasia Bianca in the state at this time. (It’s just not my palate!)
That being said, if you’re a sweet wine drinker, this vintage will be a perfect opportunity for you to discover one of the best grapes grown in Arizona. Or, for that matter, if you have a dessert party coming up and need some local wines, this will be perfect. This wine reminds me a great deal of some classic German rieslings; lovers of that varietal need to examine this vintage as well. This is a gateway Malvasia.
I feel like this Malvasia is a little girl in a colorful german-style dress, her hair done in pigtails, dancing through a meadow.