The SOMM Journal

February/March 2015

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Page 85 of 92

{ }  85 Wine tourism is less developed than on the West Coast and, given the state popula- tion distribution, is likely to grow more in the Verde Valley (it being one hour north of Phoenix) than in the other two wine areas. Verde Valley is showing the early signs now, with the topographically stunning town of Jerome sporting places to stay (mainly quaint B&Bs) and tasting rooms (Caduceus Cellars, Cellar 433 and Passion Cellars). The historic town of Clarkdale has a cooperative winery in Four Eight Wineworks. Cornville has tasting rooms (Javelina Leap Vineyard and Winery, Oak Creek Vineyards and Page Springs Cellars) and Cottonwood likewise (Alcantara Vineyards, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards and Winery, Burning Tree Cellars, Pillsbury Wine Company and Fire Mountain Wines). Concurrently, fine dining is also emerging in the area with the addi- tion of Abbie's Kitchen in Cottonwood, which features informed New American cuisine. The state showcases its wines at a series of events organized by the Arizona Wine Growers Association. The annual "Festival at The Farm" each November, is an opportunity to find most of the top wineries pouring in one place. Sommeliers looking for a one-stop buying shop should add this to their calendar. It was at this festival that I came across the single biggest find of the tour : the 2013 Malvasia Bianca by Sand-Reckoner Vineyards from Cochise County (in the Willcox area). I was struck by the body weight in the mouth and the subtle flavors. It was a stark contrast from the essentially simple expressions of this grape found in most mono-varietal bottlings outside Madeira. Sand-Reckoner's was the best, but Malvasia Bianca is widely grown and impressed as a category. All indicators are pointed up for the Arizona wine industry. Now would be a good time to put it on your radar. Maynard James Keenan, best known as singer for the band Tool, is owner/ winemaker at Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards. Kent Callaghan, owner of Callaghan Vineyards. Sand-Reckoner Vineyards 2013 Malvasia Bianca, Cochise County Appealing nose of citrus and peach along with mineral notes of chalky soil. Flavors reinforce the nose but the wine also contributes a significant body weight in the mouth that magni- fies its complexity. Careful winemaking has produced a fruit-acid balance that is precision-tuned. The revelation of the tour. Caduceus Cellars 2012 "Nagual de la Marzo," Yavapai County Sangiovese (55%), Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Barbera (10%). Open fruity nose of black cherries and French oak notes. Chewy tannins make it a wine that can be drunk with fatty meat now but would be better as a quaffing wine two to three years down the road. Callaghan Vineyards 2009 "Caitlin's," Elgin 60% Petit Verdot, 40% Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/ Cabernet Franc. Powerful, full-bodied red wine best with red meat. Aged in French and, uniquely, Polish oak. Nose of blackberry, black cherry and wood. Flavors of chocolate, mocha and concentrated dark fruit. Dos Cabezas Wineworks 2011 "Águileón" Tempranillo (88%), Graciano (6%) and Mourvèdre (6%). Fruit entirely from the winery's Cimarron Vineyard. A powerful example of Tempranillo in the style of a more atavistic Ribera del Duero. Earthy and spicy nose (black pepper). Chewy raspberry and black cherry in the mouth. The texture reflects the 24 months this wine spent in neutral French and American oak. Caduceus Cellars 2013 "Nagual del Marzo" Rosé, Yavapai CountySangiovese (100%). Produced with the saignée technique. Whole cluster pressed and cold fermented. A charming soft rosé that paired well with a salmon salad. All of the tannic notes of Sangiovese are expunged, leaving a crisp, dry and refreshing cherry, raspberry flavor profile. Top Picks from Arizona The historic town of Clarkdale has a coopera- tive winery in Four Eight Wineworks.

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