I was recently down at the ASV bottling and barrel room out on the high desert plains between Camp Verde and Cottonwood recording a podcast with Corey Turnbull and Jon Scarbourough, and this was one of the wines we drank dyring said podcast… and it was so fundimentally interesting that I had to take the bottle home to get to know this wine a little better. I’ve know we’ve reviewed a lot of wines from Arizona Stronghold here, but this one needs to be discussed. Promptly. This wine, mark my words, is going to get high marks in every competition it enters.
2014 Gewürztraminer, from Bonita Springs Vineyards, in a mountain stream
The Wine: The wine is made from 100% Gewürztraminer, coming from Bonita Springs Vineyard, near Willcox. Since it is a slightly higher elevation than the rest of Willcox, cool-weather varietals tend to do very well here, and this wine demonstrates that truism quite nicely. The grapes were destemmed, and then left to cold soak for a few days before pressing; this was done to increase the aromatic potential of the future wine (which, needless to say, was a success). The wine was steel-aged for 7 months or so. The winemaker was Corey Turnbull and the ASV gang. Corey once described this as one of the best white wines he feels he’s ever made. There is no residual sugar–it’s completely dry, and did not undergo Malolactic Fermentation. It is now found in the Arizona Stronghold Vineyard tasting room, as part of their site archive series.
The Nose: The first thoughts I had on this wine’s nose, when I first caught it, was of Holy Friday in the Orthodox Church, and the massive amounts of rosewater that are flung at everyone in the parish. Intense rosewater aromas intermingle with crisp pears, lychee, and lavender. When left open for a time, the wine gains a new grouping of aromatics which only remind me further of Holy Friday services in the Orthodox Church: namely frankincense and jasmine, with hints of lilies, cinnamon, apircot and orange oil.
Palate: This is an incredibly full-bodied wine compared to the other Gewürztraminer I’ve had from Arizona recently, from Skull Valley. Crisp, fresh pears intermingle with peach, lychee, creamy apircot, and rosehips/rose petals once again right off the bat. These flavors are then joined by rich apples, cinnamon, and jasmine notes, and eventually mesquite honey. There’s a lively crisp acidity to this wine that leads me to think this wine is just beginning a long life–and that it will age really well. The finish of this wine is filled with rich apple, rose, and lychee, with just a touch of the limestone dust minerality prevalent in white wines coming from the Willcox/Sulphur Springs Valley region, and lasts for about 20 seconds.
Pairing: This wine is going to pair really well with Pad Thai with chicken or shrimp at about a 3-4 level spice, followed by some of those delicious fried bananas or coconut sorbet for dessert. For a vegetarian pairing, use tofu instead of chicken. Gewürztraminer is pretty much a no-brainer traditional pairing for spicy food, after all, so anything spicy and South Asian would do in a pinch–or even spicy Mexican cuisine. If you seek a brunch pairing for this wine, go for a Chili Verde Omlete with bacon and extra tabasco.
Impression: I think this is probably the best Gewürztraminer I’ve ever had, and for sure the best from Arizona. The especially ironic thing about that fact as Corey pointed out is that this comes from the exact same vineyard, and the same vines, as the Kokopelli Vineyard Gewürztraminer I had on my 21st birthday–my first Arizona wine. That wine was asbolutely terrible, and set me scurrying away from Arizona wine for another year, and from this varietal in question for almost 6 years.
In my mind, this demonstrates two truisms about wine: it depends on the winemaker, and it depends on the vintage. It also demonstrates just how much Arizona wine has grown and developed in the years since I’ve been drinking vintages pulled from our local earth. I’d love to see what this wine would be like in five more years–at the very least. (I suspect this wine may well hold up longer than that, perhaps as much as ten.) It’s still quite young yet, though, but when it achieves it’s full potential this wine is going to be turning heads left and right.
This wine is very friendly, and kind, and loving, and likes being around flowers. She gives her all, and doesn’t expect anything in return but equal amounts of love and kindness. She’s a badass with a lot of heart, and is quite erudite. She enjoys helping people in need, even if it’s simply by being someone to talk to when you’re down. Fond of soccer, and obscure Byzantine hymnography, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and join in the fun singing to obscure indie folk bands from the West Coast. She likes holy week, and is Orthodox. Which makes me think of the times I drove the school van back in Seminary for my friend Sophia to pick up flowers to decorate the icons for major church feasts. Yup, this wine is her.