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I am doing this review a little differently this time around. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much of my new favorite YouTube Channel, Regular Car Reviews. Dang it, Gary. I am holding you responsible for this.
People often ask me why I am so into wine, so obsessed with it. While sipping on the first estate release from Four Tails Vineyard this week, the 2015 Double Trouble, I was thinking about this question. And this wine has helped me crystallize an answer, or at least, part of an answer.
Cabernet Sauvignon has traveled a long way from its native Bordeaux to be rooted in Arizona soils. Every place where the world is warm enough to grow vinifera grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon is almost always the first in the ground; in California, Arizona… South Africa, Australia, even India and China. It’s comfortable and friendly, like a close relative. People can pronounce it, which also helps. (Imagine the middle-aged suburban housewife going drinking with friends away from the kids, saying to a waiter “Yeah, I’ll have a glass of the house Cab sav.” That sort of thing.) The 2015 Double Trouble is the first wine made from the first estate crop of Four Tails Vineyard. The first vines that the owners, Barb and Cale Coons planted in their vineyard in Pearce, Arizona? Why, Cabernet Sauvignon, of course. (They also planted Viognier and Tempranillo.)
The ubiquitousness of Cabernet Sauvignon makes me remember that, even though I was born here in Arizona, I’m not really a native here. I am only the first generation. Like Cabernet Sauvignon, part of my genetics are connected to France. The fact is, even the native peoples of Arizona came from elsewhere. Are we really native *anywhere* other than to the Kingdom of God? And if this wine, made from a workhorse noble grape that’s grown everywhere (or at least almost everywhere), on 6 out of 7 continents, can make me think such deep thoughts, how could I NOT like wine? What other mysteries lurk in my glass of this wine?
Onto the technical stuff. The 2015 Double Trouble, as I alluded to above, is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate vineyard at Four Tails Vineyard, in Pearce, Arizona. The wine was made by James Callahan; his last vintage making wine for Four Tails. Future wines from this vineyard are being made by Gary Kurtz. I haven’t been able to reach James for information specifically how this wine was made, in terms of maceration time or oaking regimen, but I’d have to guess this wine was likely made with a commercial yeast and saw at least one year in some percentage of new French oak; I get none of the characteristics that to me indicate American oak. The wine itself is named in honor of the owner’s two yellow labs, Bubby and Bruno who are thick as thieves, and never apart.
I really like this wine. The nose of the 2015 Double Trouble opens with notes of rich, dark cassis, plum, and black cherry, intermingling with notes of sandalwood, frankincense, petrichor, and pomegranate. It smells like what you imagine purple velvet should smell like. On the palate, gripping leathery tannins dance amidst notes of tobacco, cedar, cherry, and plum, with just a hint of granite, graphite, and sage. The finish of the Double Trouble at first is short, but hopeful: like a coffee date that both parties really want to turn into a dinner date, but didn’t plan to like each other this much, and are trying to cancel evening plans to stay in each other’s company; only 21 seconds. As the wine decants for a few hours, the finish opens to about 45 seconds, and those tannins slowly relax and open. Notes of Lilac and violets emerge amidst all the fruit. The first minutes of that awkward date, filled with anxiety have passed. Now the two parties involved are conversing over cocktails, ignoring the rest of the world. Love–or at least lust with direction–are filling the air.
I want to drink this wine with a good medium-rare steak, just with a bit of salt and pepper, with some baked potatoes on the side, while smoking a decent cigar from the Dominican Republic. Something simple, but elegant–not fancy. Homey. Yeah, That’s what this wine is kind of like. It’s comfortable but elegant–like a well-worn suit jacket that you find $50 bucks in the pocket from the last time you were at a wedding with an open bar, so you use the find to treat yourself to something nice. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s damn nice. In fact, I think this wine is probably the best Cabernet Sauvignon I’ve had from Arizona in a while. That’s kind of what Cabernet Sauvignon is like for me; a close friend that you see perhaps once or twice a year, but you’re always able to pick up where you left off like it was only yesterday. It’s drinking great now, but you could cellar it for a few more years no problem. I don’t know that there are any bottles left, but Cabernet Sauvignon should be a regular feature from Four Tails Vineyard from now on, so check their website.
Wine, by nature, is a drink that engenders deep philosophical conversation, and thoughtful contemplation, which is, of course, the lion’s share of what I’ve been writing about. The fact is, wine always has a story to tell, for anyone willing to pay attention. And that’s why I like wine so much. The stories.
I like listening to those stories, and attempting to translate them for a wider audience. In fact, this is sometimes why I like wine more than I like most people. Arizona wines are just beginning to tell their stories. I’m glad to simply be here, listening.