I first want to apologize for the intensely sporadic nature of my posts lately. Life has gotten busy, and so I don’t have time to post nearly as much as I did previously. Please forgive me. I’m trying to get myself back on a regular posting schedule where I will post at LEAST once a week, if not once every two days, as I did previously. Anyway, enough of that, as we’re here for wine.
We’ve explored Caduceus wines a number of times before, but frankly, that’s because I like them… and the tasting room is more or less four blocks away from where I live in Jerome, so it’s pretty easy to go to the tasting room somewhat regularly (assuming time permits, which lately it hasn’t). Also, frankly, Maynard has done quite a bit for the Arizona wine industry, and he supports it, and the future of the industry, in a way that I only wish I could, in regards to the co-op at Four-Eight Wineworks and the Southwest Wine Center.
But enough of that. It’s time for some wine, of course.
2012 Primer Paso in front of Jerome.
The Wine: Assuming I remember my limited Spanish correctly, “Primer Paso” means “First Step.” I have no idea what this signifies. What I do know, however, is that the 2012 Primer Paso is a particularly unique take on the Côte-Rôtie style co-fermented wines that are occasionally made here in Arizona, due to the use of Petit Sirah and Malvasia Bianca. (A previous version, available for Velvet Slippers Club members which I’ve never gotten to try is Syrah and Malvasia Bianca alone.) The blend itself consists of 60% Syrah, 33% Petit Sirah, and 7% Malvasia Bianca, coming from Al Buhl Memorial Vineyard down on the Willcox Bench.
The wine underwent open top bin maceration combined with a little bit of a modfied cold carbonic maceration process. (Cold-soaking, in other words.) The wine was cask and puncheon aged for 18 months in new and neutral French oak, but the information regarding the percentage of new oak vs. neutral is unavailable. If I had to guess, I would say this wine was aged on no more than 25% new oak. While Côte-Rôtie style Syrahs are usually darker than average ones, this one is darker still, due to the influence of Petit Sirah; a shade of dark garnet red.
The Nose: The 2012 Primer Paso opens with notes clearly influenced by the Malvasia in this blend: jasmine, and a little bit of honeysuckle, intermingling with myrrh, vanilla, cassis, sour black cherry, black pepper, clove, cliff rose, and monsoon petrichor. As the wine opens up, the Petit Sirah in this blend makes itself noticed with subtle hints of bergamot, and black tea leaves.
The Palate: This wine opens with a juicy boysenberry and black cherry salvo that intermingles with rosemary, vanilla, cedar, cloves, honeysuckle, and latakia pipe tobacco. There’s still a lot of tannins present here, so I do feel this wine could benefit from further aging. The finish of this wine is long and languid, clocking in at 2 minutes 35 seconds, with Petit Sirah influenced notes of bergamot, and black tea, along with cloves, cinnamon, and granite.
The Pairing: With more tannins present in this wine, one could pair this wine with bigger meals. Elk steaks, or an elk pot roast with mushrooms is one meal that immediately comes to mind, but you could even pair this with lamb, or certain cuts of steak, like a New York Strip. You want something equally rich for your vegetarian or vegan pairing: mushrooms, slow roasted in red wine with peppers and jackfruit.
Impressions: I honestly think that while I may well have opened this wine a little young, its peak is rapidly approaching–in a year or two, at most. There’s still lots of tannins here, so I would recommend decanting this wine for at least an hour prior to imbibing.
Yet, at the same time, the 2012 Primer Paso is just fine and dandy as a slow-sipper on a languid afternoon with a big meal, followed perhaps with a pipe of your favorite tobacco… Or just outside on a lovely evening, on your porch for that matter. I have to admit, this wine is more or less my go-to wine whenever i want a glass of wine at Caduceus (this and Le Cortigane Oneste, but that’s a wine made from New Mexico grapes so I won’t be reviewing it here), so I’ve been fond of it for a while.
I have to say I also must categorize this differently from most other Côte-Rôtie style wines in the state, due to the presence of the Petit Sirah. It’s not feminine, like so many others–there is a distinct masculine element here that plays well with the feminine qualities of Malvasia and Syrah. In fact, I almost feel like this wine is kind of like a married couple, perhaps that one married couple you know that somehow, magically, always seems to have everything together. Sure, rough times may hit, but they always weather through the storm. Years may pass, but there they are, together, standing against the world with their various inside jokes and wry smiles.
So… I think this wine might just be my parents as a unit, which is a sentence I never thought I’d say. Which may also be why I’ve always found this wine to be deeply comforting, somehow.