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Fort Bowie Vineyard was one of the major sources of grapes in Arizona, and its loss still resonates, for better, or for worse. (Someday, I should write an introspective about that vineyard, but today is not that day, and tomorrow doesn’t look terribly good either. Many Arizona wineries got their start with fruit sourced from Fort Bowie, and Passion Cellars was among them during it’s first crush season, when the 2013 Jerome White was made.
As part of my research for the upcoming Certified Specialist of Wine exam at Yavapai, I’m going to relay a bit of extra information about the various varietals in the wines I review–this also will serve to put our Arizona wines in a broader, worldly context.
The Wine: The 2013 Jerome White is 100% Chenin Blanc, sourced from Fort Bowie Vineyards. It is interesting to note that so much of Arizona’s Chenin Blanc was sourced from Fort Bowie, which is no longer in existence. As far as I’m aware, this means that the last remaining source for this grape in Arizona (that I am aware of) is Dragoon Mountain Vineyard. The wine was fermented, and aged in stainless steel. No Malolactic fermentation took place. This wine was made by Jason Domanico, as part of the first crush season at Passion Cellars, and won a double silver from the 2014 AWGA Festival at the Farm. This wine is a light greenish-yellow in the glass.
Nose: The 2013 Jerome White opens with notes of mint, lemon, apple, and apricot. As the wine opens up a bit, additional notes of honeysuckle, muskmelon, and honeydew melon emerge from the glass.
Palate: This wine is fairly light-bodied. When freshly opened, this wine has a delicate, minty quality that would make it deeply refreshing for hot summer days. This mint flavor intermingles with notes of peach, lavender, apricot, and pear. As the wine opens, additional notes of muskmelon, and apple emerge, along with a very slight minerality. The finish of this wine lasts for 43 seconds.
Pairing: Grilled Atlantic Char or pan-seared Rainbow trout, with a side of wild rice and roasted bok choi is what I’d pair this wine with; if you seek a vegan or vegetarian pairing for the 2013 Jerome White, make an Asian-style veggie stir fry with oyster mushrooms and again, wild rice.
Impressions: I’m normally not fond of Chenin Blanc, but when I tasted a bottle of the 2013 Jerome White in the tasting room last week where I was pouring it as a bonus pour, it actually really stuck out above the ordinary for me. That’s what led me to take home a bottle and sit with it. It strikes me as a great summer vintage. For some reason, I picture this wine as a pigtailed tomboy in her late teens, getting all muddy after jumping into rivers from swings.
How does this wine compare with one from this grape’s Urheimat?: The few Chenin Blanc wines I’ve had from the Loire tend to have a more marked minerality, possibly from the region’s Tuffeau soils–a layer of limestone in the subsoil. I suspect that if Chenin was ever planted in the Verde Valley, it would be very, very similar to Loire versions. That being said, since Arizona seems to have abandoned the Chenin bandwagon, this isn’t likely to happen. In short, it’s a little fruitier than Chenin Blanc from the Loire.
Fun Facts: Chenin Blanc is a varietal that comes from the Loire Valley, in France; also known in California and South Africa, used in Vouvray in France, and a whole host of other AOC’s in the Loire Valley. There are even sparkling versions of this grape to be found coming from the Loire. It is also one of the oldest known varietals, records of this varietal date back to 1455.