Podcast: Making Ocotillo Wine at Trident Winery


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It’s been a crazy week here at the Wine Monk Chateau–harvest is in full swing and I have not had much time for taking notes on wine.  On top of that, allergies have been acting up and interfering with my palate.  So: here’s a podcast I recorded a while back.

In this podcast, Ray Stephens of Trident Winery in Pine, Arizona, walks me through the process of making one of the strangest and most interesting wines in his tasting room: his Ocotillo wine.  This is a long podcast, but well worth it for the sheer amount of wine geekyness that goes on here.

(Should also note that in some aspects of my personal life, this podcast is out of date–but all the wine stuff is solid and immutable!)

Below are some photos from the process.  Enjoy!


Flowers are ready to be made into a tea that will be the base for the wine


Getting the yeast ready


A very blurry Ray Stephens, the mastermind behind this really cool wine.



Bodega Pierce: 2014 Malvasia Bianca


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It’s been a while since we’ve explored my Ultimate Bae and fiancée Malvasia Bianca here on the Arizona Wine Monk Blog.  That’s my own fault.  It’s a long story we won’t get into, other than it involves a woman who’s perfume bore a remarkable resemblance to most Arizona expressions of this varietal.

But I’m all better now.  I don’t plan on leaving Malvasia Bianca ever again. Malvasia is bae, as I suppose the youngsters might say.   And what better way to get back into Malvasia than with one of the best producers of this grape in the state?  We reviewed the 2013 vintage a while back, so let’s jump forward in time, shall we?

2014 Malvasia Bianca from Bodega Pierce

The Wine: Like the 2013 vintage, and the 2015 that’s currently at Four-Eight Wineworks, this wine is 100% varietal Malvasia, coming from Rolling View Vineyards. I’m pretty certain that this vintage, like the last, was fermented in stainless steel, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of it was aged on a little bit of neutral oak as well, as it seems a little fuller bodied than last year’s vintage. The incredible differences between vintages make me wonder if different yeasts are being used each year, or if Malvasia naturally is that varied from one year to the next, based on weather conditions, but I digress.  The winemaker was Michael Pierce.  The wine itself is the lovely, cheerful sunshine yellow of an average local Malvasia Bianca; a wine itself which was once described to me as “liquid sunlight.”The Nose: What’s particularly interesting to me is that every vintage is so incredibly different. The 2013 vintage was quite floral on the nose, and 2014 is decidedly not. (The 2015 in Four-Eight currently is also different, being entirely tropical fruit.) Instead, notes of lemon-lime and apple form the opening salvo, along with tropical fruit such as starfuit, pineapple and banana.  As the wine opens up, these notes begin intermingling with flint, chamomile, and white tea, and the slightest hint of gardenia and lavender.

The Palate: Notes of chamomile, white tea, and starfruit are particularly prominent in this vintage on the palate as well; with hints of elderflower, jasmine, and rose intermngling with the tropical fruit and tea.  As the wine opens, these floral notes intensify, and intermingle with flint and dust. As the wine opens up, notes of honey emerge on the palate.  The finish of this Malvasia lasts for 1 minute and 19 seconds.

The Pairing: I feel like this wine will be a great breakfast or brunch pairing with huevos rancheros or a green chili omlette. I feel this would also be a great wine to pair with a gyro too; the subtle flavors of the wine will play with properly-made tzatziki sauce.  For a vegan or vegetarian pairing, Pad Thai will also work splendidly.

Impressions: As I stated before, I’m struck by how different each vintage of Malvasia from this vineyard is.  Does this grape vary so much by climate? Are different yeasts used every year?  Is it both?  I wasn’t able to reach Michael Pierce to comment about the yeasts used in the different vintages in time for this post to go live, but hopefully he’ll be able to tell me one way or the other.

If you want to try Malvasia, but don’t particularly care for Floral whites, this one is a good one to begin your explorations with.  This particular Malvasia feels more masculine than other expressions, so much so that I would declare this vintage to be a blonde gentleman and scholar of the Crusades. He has a tan from just returning from a dig site at a Crusader castle somewhere in Lebanon.

Caduceus Cellars: 2015 Nagual del Agostina (August Noise Review)


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2015 Naugal del Agostina in the meadows of Mingus Mountain

Hello stranger, Can you tell us where you’ve been? More importantly, how ever did you come to be here?”–Puscifer, The Green Valley.

It is perhaps not terribly surprising that I have a list of recently planted grapes that I’ve had my eye on. These grapes will have their first full vintages released either this year or next. These are grapes which I’ve spent some time imagining would do well here, under open Arizona skies. One of the grapes on this list is a somewhat obscure Italian and French varietal called vermentino (or rolle in France). In its homeland, this grape produces crisp, bright, acidic white wines. When I heard a few years ago that Maynard had planted some vines of this varietal near Cornville, I was excited and awaited the first vintage. This vintage, the 2015 Nagual del Agostina, was recently released in the Caduceus Cellars tasting room, so I grabbed a bottle and sat under my favorite tree atop Mingus Mountain to meet the new grape in town.

The 2015 Nagual del Agostina is technically a blend of 90% vermentino and 10% malvasia bianca, though according to American liquor laws, this qualifies as something that could have been labeled as the majority varietal. The grapes for this wine came from the Agostina vineyard block, not terribly far from Oak Creek, at about 3,300 feet in elevation. The grapes for this wine were whole-cluster pressed, and cold-soaked. This wine was partially fermented in stainless steel at 52 degrees Fahrenheit, and partly in neutral oak puncheons at 65 degrees. These different styles of fermentation add a great deal of complexity and character to this vintage. The wine was aged in stainless steel. Very similar to the typical Italian expression of this varietal, this Arizona vermentino is a bright, almost transparent yellow-green in the glass.

On the nose, the 2015 Agostina is deeply reminiscent of its Italian brethren. Bright and refreshing, the nose opens up with a fragrance akin to a mountain meadow in springtime, intermingling with honeydew melon, apricot, green apple, and lime. As the wine opens, hints of mint, vanilla, limestone, and distant desert rain emerge from the glass, along with just a hint of baking spices. Surprisingly, the only malvasia influences which are noticeable in this wine are very subtle notes of jasmine and gardenia.

The palate of this wine doesn’t have any noticeable characteristics of malvasia, which normally makes itself very explicitly known. Notes of lime, peach, and green apple intermingle with subtle hints of sea salt and limestone. (This limestone note is not something I recognize in Italian expressions of this grape, which leads me to believe it is an artifact of the local terroir; remains of the ancient lakebed which once covered the valley.) As the wine opens, honeydew melon and lychee notes emerge, intermingling with some absolutely stunning acidity. The finish of the 2015 Agostina lasts for 1 minute and four seconds, filled with notes of honeydew melon, vanilla, and sage.

I have to say that I’d be hard-pressed to find a better pairing for this wine than the approach I took: a warm summer’s day in the mountains, among the wildflowers, leaning against a ponderosa pine. It would also pair really well on a porch, watching monsoon storms sailing across the landscape, while smoking some aromatic pipe tobacco. If you must insist on a food pairing, the vibrant acidity of this wine lends itself to a host of varied options. My first thought is to pair this wine with grilled salmon with rosemary and lemon, with a side of saffron rice. For more Southwestern flair, serve this wine with some great grilled chicken tacos, with a squeeze of lime, a tiny bit of chili powder, and just a smidge of avocado. If you’re seeking a vegetarian or vegan pairing for this vermentino, make some falafel with a side of tabbouleh; the flavors in such a dish should meld well with the wine.

The 2015 Agostina is, in a nutshell, the perfect wine for the hot summers here in the Verde Valley. It is a classic vermentino with some local Arizona flair. Light, and airy, with a nice kick of acidity, this is a wine that will quench your thirst in the hot summer sun, whether on a romantic picnic date, or sitting alone under a tall pine tree swaying in the wind. This wine is a blonde photographer, light on her feet, who prefers wilderness photography over all other things. She is kind, a little aloof, but a good friend. I would be remiss to not note that this wine is one of the very first to be approved by the new Arizona Vigneron’s Alliance, an organization specifically devoted to promoting vintages made from Arizona grapes. Grab your bottle from the Caduceus tasting room for $40.

Cody V. Burkett is channeling Omar Khayyam, and bids you remember that you need is a bottle of wine, a picnic lunch, and your own damned self, singing in the wilderness. Follow him on instagram at @theazwinemonk if you like pretty wine and sunrise photos.

Lightning Ridge Cellars: 2011 Estate Petit Verdot


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You don’t see as many Bordeaux grapes grown in the Sonoita AVA these days as you once did.  And in my opinion, Petit Verdot is among my favorites. I had to pick up this bottle of Petit Verdot one of the first times I visited Lightning Ridge Cellars, almost 2 and a half years ago.  I’ve had it aging quietly since then… and I’ve been craving Bordeaux grapes lately for some reason, so I decided to break this bottle out of the cellar and give it a try.

lightning ridge petit verdot

2011 Petit Verdot from Lghtning Ridge Cellars, Sonoita AVA.

The Wine: I was not able to get details on this vintage, but there is tangerine notes on the nose and on the palate after an extreme decant, so I am assuming this fruit is from the Sonoita AVA.  I’m also guessing this wine was aged on American oak, due to the scent profile, in heavier toast, newer barrels. The wine was made by Ann Roncone.  This wine, as you would expect from Petit Verdot, is an extremely dark, almost blackish purple in color.

The Nose: When first opened, the biggest aromas that grab me hint at a usage of new American oak barrels: cedar, teriyaki sauce, and dill that overwhelm the nose, scents which make me assume the use of american oak.  Given a few hours to decant though, the situation has entirely changed; more subtle notes of the wine come out to play: pencil shavings, banana, sage, and rose come out to play, intermingling with big cassis, blackberry, plum, and mulberry notes.  After a day-long decant, the nose of this wine also contains the scent of violets, cinnamon, and rosemary, and the fruit notes have become more subdued.

Palate: This wine still has huge tannins.  When first imbibed, vanilla, cedar, and nutmeg notes are prominent, but as the wine calms down and opens up, notes of pomegranate, plum, cherry, banana, cassis, rosemary, and mulberry emerge, intermingling with intense leathery tannins, persimmons, espresso, and chalky limestone.  After being open for two hours, the wine has a finish of 4 minutes, with big tannins, spice, and earth .  After further decanting this wine for a day, the wine obtains even more subtle flavors of violets and rosemary (and there’s still lots of tannins and persimmon notes), and the finish lasts for 4 minutes and 21 seconds.

Pairing: Bigger is going to be better with this wine: ribeyes, porterhouses, and other big meat dishes are going to be fantastic with this wine, but since I’ve been on a Persian cuisine kick lately, you should pair this wine with a Beryooni dish (Lamb, basically).  Or Lamb kebabs.  For a vegetarian pairing, big is also going to be your watchword: mushroms will be your best friend.  A lasagna made with portobello mushroom or ruffles with a side of wild rice will shine with this wine.

Impressions:  Petit Verdot for me is usually a sort of brooding artist or writer, sometimes with a bit of a twisted mind, fond of using deep colors, prone to chain smoking and abstract art.  The last one we visited reminded me of Rothko, but this is… different.  More moody, but less abstract, possibly more impressionist in mode… a little like Van Gogh, actually.

I admit, at first I didn’t like this Petit Verdot, and felt it over-oaked, and for those who aren’t fans of American Oak, your first thought may well be like mine: “oh god, what did they do?”  Wait.  Let it decant.  Decanting is your watchword with this wine, and if you don’t decant this wine, (or really, any other Petit Verdot) you’re going to have a bad time.

Which is why I’m going to close with a meme for the first time ever on The Arizona Wine Monk Blog:


Take this advice to heart. Or cellar this wine for another 10 years and you won’t feel nearly as impatient when you take that first sip just out of the bottle.


Passion Cellars: 2014 Jerome Red


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Those who know me well, or are simply long-time readers of my blog, know that my day job is working for the Passion Cellars tasting room in Jerome, Arizona and I don’t review the wines often for fear of being accused of bias. That proviso aside, Jason Domanico is making some dang good wines, and sometimes I even get to help out.  (As long as I don’t get in the way!) One of the flagship blends for the tasting room is the Jerome Red, which, while the blend has varied from one vintage to the next, has always had one goal in mind: evoke the terroir of Arizona.

This vintage won a bronze medal at the San Fransisco International Competition a few months ago… and so I’ll be honest, I’m pretty pleased by that since I helped compile this blend with Jason one day while at the winery production facility in Willcox.


2014 Jerome Red from Passion Cellars, and the town of Jerome.

The Wine: The 2014 Jerome Red is a blend of 20% Aglianico, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Mourvedre, 20% Sangiovese,  16.66% Nebbiolo, and 3.3% Alicante Bouchet.  The fruit for this wine is all from Willcox; coming from Dragoon Mountain vineyards, Fort Bowie Vineyards, and Zarpara Vineyards; the whole of the Willcox growing area represented in a single wine. (This is one reason I think this blend is really nifty, actually; a sampling of the terroir of each location all in one place, forming a unified whole).  The Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in new French oak, while all the other wines were aged in neutral French oak.   The individual wines were made by Jason Domanico, while the blend was decided on by a committee consisting of Jason Domanico, Jim Lynch, and myself.  

Storytime: We were doing blending trials and had these 5 barrels left over, trying to make two different blends.  Nothing was blowing us away, so we decided to take a break and get some lunch and try again afterward when our palates were rested.  While at lunch, I suggested, based on individual flavor profiles, that we blend all the barrels together when we got back, and see what that would be like.  We gave it a shot, liked it immensely, tried it again with one of the cab barrels that saw new French oak… and liked it even better.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The Nose: The nose of the 2014 Jerome Red begins quietly and subtly, like a monsoon storm growing on a distant mountain, with soft notes of star anise, cinnamon,cherry, and roses, intermingling with monsoon petrichor and distant Willcox dust.  As the wine opens, it explodes with bright notes of plum, vanilla, cassis, and pipe tobacco, melding with the aforementioned notes.  It really does smell like an approaching monsoon storm in many ways; something most Arizona natives have picked up on in the tasting room.

The Palate:  Like the nose, the 2014 Jerome Red starts off subtle and works to a crescendo on the palate.  It begins with notes of plum, cherry, cedar, cinnamon, and star anise, then intermingling with sage, rosemary, and cassis as the wine opens, with a massive salvo of earth, coffee, and spicy, leathery tannins at the finish, with bracing acidity–like the climax of a monsoon storm roaring down from the desert. The finish of this wine is dusty, and earthy, with cherry, juicy plum, pomegranate, and bracing tannins, lasting for two minutes and 31 seconds.

The Pairing: I’d almost stick with drinking this wine without food, before or after dinner, simply to enjoy that flavor profile and to soak up that Willcox landscape hidden within the wine, preferably while you’re watching the monsoons build as you sit upon on your mountaintop perch.  You could pair this wine with ribs, pork chops, or a nice ribeye steak.  It occurs to me that lamb would also work well, with just a slight hint of paprika and rosemary, and a side of rice. For a vegetarian or vegan pairing, aim once again for something big with a lot of texture, like a slab of portobello mushroom and a baked potato.

Impressions: This wine will cellar well for another 10 years–if you wanted to wait that long, and if stored correctly. If you are going to drink it now, I do highly recommend decanting this wine for at least an hour, or pouring it through an aerator.  I admit, I’m biased about this wine since I helped make it, but the medal from San Fransisco does speak to its quality.

As for personification, I feel like the 2014 Jerome Red is a gentleman who has many different facets. He’s quiet, and young, a man of few words at first, with intense bearing and gravitas, perhaps slightly nervous overall. He’s either a scientist or a priest, if not both at once; but either way, he dabbles in writing. Once you get him to open up, however, the shyness falls away and there’s an incredible intensity that kind of takes you aback, and he will go on about the topics which passionately interest him deep into the night.


Four Tails Vineyard: 2014 Pretty Girl Viognier


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While down in Pierce and Dragoon last week, I managed to stop and peek at a couple of vineyards; one of which was Four Tails.  Seeing the Viognier on those vines, ready to be harvested within the next month made me think of this bottle sitting in my cellar, and since it’s been a while since we looked at a Viognier… well, now seemed like the time.  It’s a beautiful little vineyard, tucked away in the high desert near the old mining town of Pierce, down in Southeastern Arizona, at the foot of the Dragoon Mountains.

four tails viognier

Four Tails Vineyard 2014 “Pretty Girl” Viognier out on the deck again.

The Wine:  The 2014 Pretty Girl Viognier is named for Bono (short for Bonita), the basset hound owned by the Four Tails crew; and she is prominently featured on the label. The grapes for this vintage came from Pillsbury Vineyard, rather than the estate (which I believe this will be the first viognier harvest from the estate this year…). It was barrel fermented with a selection of commercial yeasts (Vin 2000 and Rhone 4600, to be precise), and then aged in neutral french oak for one year. The wine was aged on the lees for 8 months, which gives it a distinctly fuller-bodied character. The wine seems a little more golden in color than some other viogniers I’ve encountered in the state as well.  James Callahan was the winemaker.

The Nose: The biggest, most prominent scent I get off the nose of this wine is key lime. which intermingles with more subtle scents of orange blossom, acacia flowers, honey, and allspice.  As the wine opens, more subtle notes of honeysuckle, peach, and green apple emerge from the glass.

The Palate: This viognier is a little more full-bodied than some other expressions in the state, which is likely partly due to barrel fermentation, but I’m also wondering if this wine was aged on the lees a little longer.  Green apple, caramel, starfruit, and peach form the prominent notes in the fore palate of this wine.  As the wine opens, notes of allspice, gardenia, and vanilla emerge. After the wine has been open for a while, I do finally detect that telltale signature of Willcox dust, but it is something you have to hunt for, and is exceedingly subtle.  The finish of this wine is long and languid, lasting for 1 minute 45 seconds.

The Pairing:  This will seem a bit heretical perhaps, but I would totally pair this wine with boneless hot wings, or with a Denver Omelette for brunch.  A more traditional pairing for this wine would be garlic penne pasta with a bit of rosemary and thyme if you want to aim towards vegetarian), or quail.

Impressions: If you are a drinker of reds seeking to expand into whites, this is a good start. It’s a full-bodied viognier, which is pretty standard for Arizona.  This second vintage from Four Tails leaves me very curious about upcoming wines, and I’m really looking forward to trying the first wines from their estate vineyard one of these days.

To me, this Viognier is decidedly masculine; a little muscular, blonde, and perhaps a little brusque with his words. He may come off as a dudebro, but if you actually sit with him, you learn he has a deep passion for Norse history.  He spends some of the time in the gym, but that’s because he’s preparing for the vacation of a lifetime; he’s going to join a crew that’s sailing a replica Viking longship from Norway to Greenland.

Los Milics: Ita’s 2014 Rosé


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Pavle Milic is kind of a superstar in the food world of Arizona. As co-owner of FnB, a gastropub focusing on local agricultural products, it is perhaps no wonder that he is an avid supporter of the Arizona industry, with many dinners occurring with local winemakers throughout the course of the year (the most famous perhaps being the Rabbit Island Brunch series, which I *almost* managed to go on earlier this year… dang weather).  With this in mind, it is not surprising at all that he’s created his own label in conjunction with the aid of Todd Bostock at Dos Cabezas, which can sometimes be the easiest Arizona wines to find in local supermarkets such as Whole Foods and AJ’s.


2014 Ita’s Rosé from Los Milics

The Wine: This was the first Los Milics rosé vintage.  The 2014 vintage is made from 85% Mourvèdre and 15% Garnacha.  This wine was barrel fermented in neutral French oak. The Mourvèdre in this vintage is what gives this wine the deep pink color like the clouds at that perfect monsoon sunrise or sunset. The grapes for this wine came from Todd Bostock’s Cimmaron Vineyard, on the Willcox Bench.  The wine is named for Pavle’s wife, Ita.

The Nose: The nose of this wine belies its Willcox heritage; there’s no Sonoita tangerine. Bright apple, strawberry, raspberry, and peach notes fill the nose; intermingling with more subtle notes of vanilla, and Willcox dust.

The Palate:  Notes of apple, peach, raspberry, soft cherry, and nectarine open up on the palate. As the wine opens, hints of vanilla and baking spice emerge, intermingling with the. Willcox limestone-style minerality/dust which is so typical of wines from the bench. The vanilla notes are clearly a result of the barrel fermentation.  There’s also great acidity in this vintage.  The finish of this wine lasts for 2 minutes , and is filled with notes of raspberry, mint, and dust.

The Pairing: Like most rosés in Arizona, I want to pair this with finger foods, like hot wings, but this will also pair beautifully with falafel and a side of baba ganoush.

Impressions: This is a rich, splendid rosé with a lot of character, great to drink on the deck while watching the monsoon storms build.  Well-structured, the Ita’s is a great Rhone-style rose from Arizona that should be a little easier to find than some others in the state.

As for the personification, the Ita’s is delicate, yet firm.  I get the impression that this wine would be a musician, focused on classical, acoustic guitar. She was born far away, and for some reason can never return home; most of her music is based upon memories of her childhood from the mountains of her homeland.


Carlson Creek Vineyards: 2012 Merlot


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With the grand opening this last weekend of their fantastic new tasting room in Old Town Scottsdale, (and it was a fantastic opening shindig on Thursday night), it seems like the perfect time to crack open a bottle of one of their wines I’ve been meaning to review for a while!  Sadly, my first bottle of this wine was corked (and with the large amount of wines I review it was something BOUND to happen sooner rather than later), but Robert gave me another bottle back at the Willcox Wine Festival, and now all is well.

It may just be that all is well because of wine?  Eh, enough philosophy.  Let’s drink!

Carlson Creek Vineyards 2012 Merlot on my deck at dusk

The Wine: Bowie still casts a long shadow in the Arizona industry.  This vintage, which I seem to remember Robert telling me was the only Merlot they’ve made at Carlson Creek, came from fruit harvested from the now lost vineyard.  It’s a darker merlot; I’ve seen both light and dark expressions of this grape here in Arizona, usually dependant on the strength of the summer monsoons. The dark color and intense tannins indicate to me that 2012 was likely a dry monsoon season at Fort Bowie vineyards that year.  I’m not too sure about the aging of this vintage, but I’m guessing that this wine definitely saw some French oak.

The Nose: Rich blackberry, mulberry, and plum notes form the opening salvo of this vintage, intermingling with vanilla, dust, and cinnamon.  As the wine opens, subtle notes of espresso and cocoa  also emerge from the glass.

The Palate: The palate opens with notes of plum, black cherry, blackberry, and leathery tannins.  Notes of Turkish coffee, Virginia cavendish, and thyme round out the palate. The finish of this wine is filled with rich tannins, alluvial gravel, black cherry, and plums, lasting for about two minutes.

The Pairing: Elk steak, for sure, is the first thing that comes to mind, or Beef Bourguignon would also work for this wine if elk is not available.  For a vegetarian pairing, I’d actually treat this merlot as one would a Cab Sav–a heavy lasagna with shitake mushrooms or even grilled portobello mushrooms over mesquite coals would do quite nicely.

Impressions: Wines made from Bowie fruit can be hit or miss, since it is widely known that the fruit coming from this site was often difficult to work with, and of intermittent quality throughout the history of the vineyard.  But this is a very solid, friendly, and ageable merlot, and could easily be cellared for another 5-10 years with no problems.

This merlot is like an old friend you haven’t seen for many years.  You only meet up maybe once or twice every couple years… and it’s like you weren’t ever apart. 




Chateau Tumbleweed: 2015 Albariño


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Albariño is a grape I’ve had my eye on for a long time in terms of Arizona wines, for an intensely personal reason (which I’ll get to later, I promise).  It’s a grape that in Spain is often grown within sight of the sea, and is known for producing some phenomenal whites there.  When I heard that two different wineries were producing a full varietal expression of this grape with their 2015 vintages, I was ecstatic.  It just so happens that Chateau Tumbleweed released theirs to the public first (while the one Passion Cellars is producing will be a cellar club exclusive and will be hard to obtain unless you’re a member).

2015 Albariño, doing a handstand.

The Nose: The nose is largely reminiscent of varietal wines made from this grape in the Rias Baixas DO in Galicia, Spain.  Notes of peach,  kumquat, and boxwood form the opening salvo of this wine, intermingling with just a slight hint of cliff rose, mint, baking spices, and white pepper.  There’s also a slight hint of Willcox dust, replacing the usual sea salt that I normally get in Spanish expressions of this grape.

The Palate: On the palate, this Albariño is a little fuller in body than Spanish versions. The palate opens with notes of pear, apple, and boxwood, peach, and what almost reminds me of a burned marshmallow.  As you’d expect with a wine with a pH of 3.51, it’s nicely crisp. The finish of this wine lasts for 1 minute and 21 seconds, and is filled with notes of the classic Willcox limestone (exactly where I would have experienced sea salt in a Spanish version), peach, and vanilla.

The Pairing:  The traditional pairing for this wine in Spain is Octopus.  This is obviously going to be hard to come by in Arizona, but since I’m Eastern Orthodox, I’ll be the last one to tell you to avoid tradition.  I also feel like crab cakes or cod with cockles and white wine would pair well with this wine.  For a vegetarian pairing, serve with Kim chi, or a Vietnamese style salad.

Impressions:  If you like Spanish Albariño, you’re going to really dig the Chateau Tumbleweed one, for sure.  It has a lot in common, with wines from the Motherland, except for very subtle differences which I suspect are largely influenced by terroir; the shores of an ancient lakebed in the desert are a very different landscape than within sight of the sea (even though the ancient oceans that once covered Arizona play a large part in the alluvial fill of the valley, and can be seen in the surrounding mountains of the region).

So, as I mentioned before, I have personal reasons for being invested in Arizona Albariño.  Spanish versions of this grape have, in my mind, traditionally been the grape personification for one of my favorite exes, nicknamed (among other sea-themed names) the Sea Walker. Since this is a grape often grown within sight of the sea in Spain, it is a fitting personification for an aspiring marine biologist.  That relationship ended years ago when we both entered our dream careers, mine being Arizona wine, of course.  In a fashion, Arizona expressions of Albariño are a way to satisfy my curiosity about possible alternate universes where she moved out here.  She’d be different out here, but still pretty cool, and well worth getting to know.

Corrine the wine-slinger poses with said albariño

Page Springs Cellars: 2014 Dos Padres Vermentino


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I’ve been on a bit of a Vermentino kick lately here, and so I decided to explore Page Springs Cellars’ expression of this varietal.  I reviewed the Caduceus Vermentino release earlier, but that’s going to be published in conjunction with next month’s Noise review.


2014 Dos Padres Vermentino from Page Springs Cellars

The Wine:  Fun story: I helped pick the grapes that went into this wine!  It was towards the mid-afternoon on a very, very hot day, after we were harvesting Malvasia.  The wine is made from 100% Vermentino, harvested from the Dos Padres block, on the other side of Oak Creek from the Tasting Room at Page Springs.  The vines are about 6 years old or so, if I recall correctly. I am unsure of what all went into the aging process, but if I had to guess, this wine was likely fermented and aged in stainless steel, or neutral oak.

Note on Geology: Dos Padres is planted on the limestone, evaporite rocks, and conglomerate of the Verde Formation, which plays a massive role in the terroir of that particular vineyard.

The Nose: Apple, pear and lime are the biggest notes on the nose, along with limestone dust.  As the wine opens, notes of pomelo, the sea, and green tea emerge from the glass.

The Palate: The 2014 Dos Padres Vermentino is an acid bomb, hands down. Intense citrus, forms the opening of this wine, along with sharp apple, sea salt, limestone dust, and white tea.  The finish lasts for 1 minute, 42 seconds, and is filled with notes of limestone, pear, and sea salt.  As the wine opens, notes of apircot, aloe and thyme emerge.

The Pairing: This is a good dry summer white–especially if you like acid bombs. Pair this wine with ceviche, shrimp tacos, or hummus and carrots.  Tabbouleh would be another fun pairing…

Impressions:  This is an intensely terroir-driven Vermentino. The limestone notes definitely are not normal in this grape, which is otherwise very similar to Italian versions of this varietal. It’s a deeply interesting wine which is very expressive of the vineyard where it was grown.

This wine is masculine–a sculptor of marble, prone to monolithic figures echoing the deepest recesses of the psyche.  However, I don’t know anyone who does this now–but his work would be reminiscent of Neolithic statuary from the Cycladic Islands of Greece for some reason.


Vermentino at Montezuma Well





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