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The opening of Cabal Cellars in Jerome has probably taken many people by surprise. Located in the old Passion Cellars Tasting room (the new one is above the Police Station), Cabal is another brainchild of winemaker Jason Domanico, but with a twist–this is a label created with his employees in mind. Jason noticed that most of his employees wanted to become more involved with other aspects of wine and winemaking than just working the tasting room, so he created this custom-crush type label with that aspect in mind. The long-term plan for Cabal Cellars is to eventually be mostly, if not entirely, employee-owned. The 2015 Conspiracy is an excellent opening example of the weird and fun wines that should be coming out of this label over the next few years. The label themes for the wines from Cabal are going to be great conspiracies, movers and shakers in history, and people who were forgotten by history as a result of circumstance.

2015 Conspiracy

The 2015 Conspiracy by Cabal Cellars can best be categorized as an “inverse Bordeaux-Style’ blend.

The Wine: The grapes for the 2015 Conspiracy were sourced from Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, in the Willcox AVA. The blend is composed of 70% Petit Verdot, 24% Malbec, and 6% Tinta Cao. This vintage was aged in French oak for 23 months. The idea behind the 2015 Conspiracy was to make an inverse Bordeaux-style blend made from the least-commonly used Bordeaux grapes: Petit Verdot and Malbec. These grapes are only typically 10% (at most) of any given blend coming from Bordeaux. The label design was suggested by Jim, the former cellar assistant to Jason, and features one of the greatest Baseball conspiracies: the infamous 1919 Chicago Black Sox. The wine is, as you would expect from a blend containing mostly Petit Verdot, a deep ruby or garnet red.

The Nose: The nose of the 2015 Conspiracy is deeply influenced by the Petit Verdot in the blend, opening with aromas of pencil shavings, intense blueberry, blackberry, plum, and black cherry, which intermingle with rich floral notes of lavender, lilac, and violets, along with that classic Willcox dust. After the wine has been decanted, the 2015 Conspiracy attains aromas of blueberry jam, crushed violets, paprika, cacao, and rosemary.

The Palate: The 2015 Conspiracy is a big, full-bodied red wine with bright acidity and big tannins. Again, intense Blueberry, blackberry, plum, and marionberry flavors create a strong jammy character, intermingling with those big tannins, and a hint of cedar. Before decanting, the finish lasts for a full minute, with lingering notes of earth, basalt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, and rosemary. After decanting, the tannins fade and additional notes of violets and coffee emerge.

The Pairing: This is a big wine that demands big foods. Pair the 2015 Conspiracy with New York Strip steaks or Portobello mushrooms if you desire a vegan pairing.

Impressions: The 2015 Conspiracy is a fun, big, bold red blend which is a unique take on a classic and venerable tradition. Indeed, one could rightly call this an “Inverse Bordeaux” blend. That being said, this wine right now is very big and tannic, and I feel will greatly benefit from extended aging in the cellar, anywhere between 3-5 years or more. I think it is a good sign of things to come from Cabal Cellars, and am looking forward to future offerings.

Personified, I feel that the 2015 Conspiracy is a war veteran sitting in an overstuffed leather armchair in a study, watching his grandchildren play outside while he smokes a cigar. Maps and memorabilia are out on his desk.