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Fort Bowie Vineyards has been dead and gone for over a year now and for some people, the wound still is fresh. It was a major source of fruit for many winemakers in Arizona. It still happens that I have a few bottles of wine made with from fruit sourced from this vineyard… and since I was thinking about the transience of things in the earthly realm, I figured it would be fitting to open one of those bottles while looking for fossils along the Mogollon Rim. I decided on the 2013 Checkmate from Dektown Cellars.
The Wine: The 2013 Checkmate is made from 100% Merlot, sourced from Fort Bowie Vineyards, which was once located in the small town of Bowie, Arizona. The wine was aged in French oak. The wine was made by Kimberley Meyers at Pillsbury. It is a dark garnet color; lighter than Merlot from California, but still darker than many other vintages I’ve encountered in Arizona except for a precious few.
The Nose: The nose at first is very tight, with notes of cassis, blackberry, raspberry, mulberry, intermingling with pomegranate and sandalwood notes. After decanting, additional aromas of lilac, Cavendish pipe tobacco, earthy petrichor, and anise emerge.
The Palate: The palate opens with cassis, blackberry, black cherry, and plum, with nice acidity, medium tannins, but is still pretty tight at the opening. The finish of this wine has notes of rich earth, flint, cassis, anise, and lilac on the finish, with medium acidity, lasting for 53 seconds. After decanting, additional notes of Cavendish pipe tobacco, and bay leaves emerge on the palate.
Pairing: I feel the 2013 Checkmate would pair very well with a nice New York strip steak, with a side of grilled asparagus and a baked potato. For a vegetarian pairing, focus on mushroom based dishes–a nice mushroom Lasagna will work quite well.
Impressions: The 2013 Checkmate is a very satisfying Merlot overall, and a good sendoff to Fort Bowie of Blessed Memory. A bottle of this wine is well worth the potentially difficult trek to acquire; though Kimberly Meyer is happy to help you out if you reach out to her. This wine could age very well for another few years yet; drink now, or cellar for an additional 3-5 years.