Golden Rule Vineyards is located near what could be said to have been the mining district of the Sulphur Springs Valley, while Willcox had a more agricultural history. In fact, the names of many of the wines made by this winery harken back to the local history of mining in the twisted granites and metamorphic rocks that make up the Dragoons and other nearby mountains, which have left their pieces behind in the vineyard–an entirely different terroir than the Willcox Bench. The Manzora Red is no exception. This entry also serves as a brief geological examination of Golden Rule Vineyards, so there will be a few more photographs in this entry than normal–be warned!
2013 Manzora Red and… yes, I’m playing D&D while drinking it. You already knew I was a nerd, so why are you surprised, exactly?
The Wine: The unique terroir of the area around Dragoon owes itself to the same unique geology that made this region a hotbed for mines, such as the Manzora mine which granted this wine its name: a massive influx of mineral-rich volcanic rock (especially porphyritic granites) during the Cretaceous and Tertiary intruding with and subsequently uplifting a suite of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The soils at Golden Rule Vineyard are eroded from these granite intrusions.
The vines at the foot of the Dragoon Mountains show the geological setting for the terroir of this region.
The Manzora Red is made from 100% Golden Rule Vineyard fruit. It is a blend of 71% Zinfandel, 14% Petit Sirah, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The wine was made at the Aridus facility (I think, and if so, in 2013 it was made by Rob Hammelman, if I recall my Aridus timetable correctly–but I could be wrong). By taste, this wine definitely has seen some new oak; French for sure, but possibly some American as well. The Manzora red, as you’d expect for a zin-heavy blend, is pretty high in alcohol at 15.7%; but this is not noticeable on the palate unless the wine is overchilled.
The Nose: The nose of this wine is classically Zinfandel-like, with notes of cherry, plum, watermelon, pomegranate, and minty monsoon petrichor. As the wine opens, these aromas intermingle with Willcox earth, orange peel, black tea, and mulberry emerge from the glass.
The Palate: This wine also has a classically Zinfandel-like palate, with jammy plum, cherry, and pomegranate, intermingling with sour mulberry, nutmeg, cedar, and granite earth. It’s almost explosively fruit forward. As the wine opens, additional notes of dates, black tea, and strawberry emerge from the glass. There are some tannins to be found here; along with hints of tobacco. The finish of this wine lasts for 1 minute and 24 seconds, and is filled with notes of tobacco, granite, and anise.
The Pairing: Pair the Manzora Red as you would a Zinfandel; with barbecue pork or a flank steak, hot off the grill with some green and red bell peppers and asparagus. For a vegetarian or vegan pairing for this wine, aim for a squash-based casserole with roasted tomatoes, red and green peppers, and caramelized onions.
Impressions: The more I examined the geology of Golden Rule Vineyards when I visited there a few months ago, the more I realize that this region doesn’t really belong categorized with the rest of the Willcox region, in terms of terroir. (In distance? Yes, visit Golden Rule during your visit to Willcox Wine Country). The wines here taste different thanks to the granitic nature of the soil which has been formed from the particular rocks which have eroded down from the mountains.
I am particularly interested in seeing if this similar geology is going to be reflected in the estate vintages from Four-Tails vineyard, which is in a strikingly similar geologic setting. These two vineyards are far from prehistoric Lake Cochise, which forms the base geologic setting for the wines of the Willcox Bench, as I’ve talked about before.
For now, though, the wines from Golden Rule are the only exploration available for this unique terroir, and the Manzora Red is an easily-approachable, food friendly, red table wine blend that any lover of Zinfandel will deeply appreciate. Zinfandel and Zin blends are pretty uncommon in Arizona, so be sure to check this one out. It should cellar for another 5-10 years, no problem. I was also deeply fond of the Sangiovese and the Black Diamond Cabernet, the latter of which will be reviewed on the blog…. eventually.
The personification of this vintage? We’re going to go with a D&D character class for this one: Elven Fighter, level three.
Sangiovese and vines with a building monsoon sky