arizona wine blog

Maynard James Keenan on Arizona Wine | part two

Maynard James Keenan talks about Arizona Wine

Arizona wine maker - Maynard James Keenan

Arizona wine maker – Maynard James Keenan

Maynard James Keenan was one of the wine makers who spoke at a forum on Arizona terrior at the 2013 Arizona Wine Grower’s Association “Festival on the farm”.  He spoke a little bit about what makes his vineyard site unique while guests were treated to the 2008 Caduceus Cellars “Judith” (sold out)

For more pictures visit Facebook.com/weeklywinejournal

Arizona Wine Festival | Saturday November 16, 2013

Festival at The Farm celebrates success of Arizona’s wineries

 

Photo from the Festival on the Farm at South Mountain 2011

Photo from the Festival on the Farm at South Mountain 2011

PHOENIX – The Arizona Wine Growers Association will celebrate another year of rising national acclaim by raising a glass with the public on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, at The Festival at The Farm. Set among the pecan groves of Phoenix’s intimate The Farm at South Mountain, the fifth-annual festival is a way to sample the best wine from across Arizona, all in one place. 29 local wineries
will be in attendance. The festival is from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and is limited to 1,000 guests. Advance tickets are available through midnight on November 14 at $65. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $75.

The festival will include an exciting live auction, scheduled for 3:00 p.m., featuring 21 amazing lots from outstanding Arizona wineries including a private wine class for 20, chef-winemaker pairings, vacation packages, one-of-a-kind wine tasting experiences and even a personal wine cellar stocked with Arizona wines. Also on Saturday afternoon will be a special event featuring panelists from several renowned Arizona wineries including Maynard Keenan of Caduceus Cellars.

The seminar, AZ Terroir: Taste the Difference, will begin at 1:45pm. Winemakers and growers from each of Arizona’s three distinct regions will discuss which grapes are doing well and how the terroir is influencing the flavors of the wine.

Wine Review | Robert Craig 2009 Affinity, Napa Valley

Wine Review | Robert Craig 2009 Affinity, Napa Valley

I’ve had the ’09 vintage of Robert Craig’s “Affinity” before, but it recently caught my attention at my local Costco -priced at under $40! I couldn’t pass it up.

Great napa wine

I have an Affinity for this wine!

The blend on the 2009 Affinity is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 2 % Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc.

Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator had estimated the wines maturity to occur  between 2012-2013 and 2017-2023. While there is quite a bit of difference on the back end of that estimate, they are very close on the start. As I write this post it is about halfway through 2013 and this wine is definitely coming into its own right now.

The nose is quintessential Napa.  espresso, cocoa, with floral hints from the Cabernet Franc .  The palate is rich, dark and robust.  Plum and cherry with a solid backbone of tannins provided by the Petit Verdot.

I sampled this over a 24 hour period.  Enjoying the first half of the bottle with grilled Filet Mignon and baked potato with all the fixings.  On the second night I had it just by itself, before dinner.  The wine definitely opened up by the second night, which is not to say it wasn’t ready to drink on the first night.  On the first night I decanted for 15 minutes only.

Retail price on this wine is about $55.  You can expect to pay $80-$120 at a restaurant.

Weekly Wine Journal rating: 96 points

Arizona’s Stage Stop Vineyards 2011 release party

Northern Arizona’s Stage Stop Vineyards is set to release their 2011 vintage this week with a first ever wine tasting at the owner’s house this coming Thursday night.

Arizona Wine Blog

Stage Stop Vineyards 2011 Red Barn Red

The release party is a private-invite only event hosted by Cullum homes and limited to 100 guests who will be joining vineyard owners Melinda, Earl Petznick and their wine maker Eric Glomski.  The cuisine is being catered by Mark Tarbell.

Eric Glomski is the owner and wine maker of award winning Page Springs Cellars.  He was brought in to make this extremely limited 2011 release of Stage Stop Vineyards Estate Grown “Red Barn Red”.  Only 99 cases of this 75% Shiraz, 25% Mourvedre were produced.  Both the ’09 and ’10 vintages are already sold out.

Stage Stop Vineyards is located about 10 miles from Sedona right next to Oak Creek in Northern Arizona’s Verde Valley.  Owners Melinda and Earl Petznick purchased the historic Dancing Apache ranch back in 2002 and began planting in 2006.  The Dancing Apache ranch dates back to the 1800′s and some of the original buildings still remain including the name sake Red Barn, an old school house and a Stage Coach respite house.

Stage Stop Vineyards website

Page Springs Cellars Website

Arizona Winery Burning Tree Cellars | Interview

Another interview in a series of interviews I did with Arizona wine makers at the Festival on the Farm. Corey and Mitch, co-owners of Burning Tree Cellars, spoke with me for a few minutes about their wines

Southeast Arizona Wine Festival 2012

Photo from the Festival on the Farm at South Mountain 2011

Kief-Joshua Vineyards will be hosting the Southeast Arizona wine festival this coming weekend, April 14th and 15th, 2012

Kief-Joshua Vineyard is located in Elgin, Arizona which is about an hour drive Southeast of Tucson.

The first ever Southeast Arizona Wine Festival will feature wine tastings by 17 Arizona wineries and wine makers from all regions of Arizona will be represented.  The festival will also feature two wine education seminars: a wine sensory seminar and a wine pairing seminar.  Sonoita’s Steak Out restaurant will be on hand serving up chicken wings, pulled pork and sirloin sandwiches!

Buzz and the Soulsenders will be entertaining the crowd with their blues styled music too!

Tickets are $15, gates open at 10am.  Tickets can be purchased on site.

Restaurant Review | An Evening at Scottsdale’s Cask 63

Fine wine and dining experiences come in many forms, from cozy home-like settings to fresh and fancy urban settings.  Cask 63, located in Scottsdale’s Gainey Ranch district, is the later.  The owners of Cask 63 American Eatery and Wine Bar purchased an existing restaurant from Fox Restaurants Concepts in late 2011, quickly reworked the menu and restaurant and had it up and running by January 2012.
The mood of the restaurant is modern and hip, and minimalist, which helps keep your attention on the amazing food created by Brian Feirstein, co owner and executive chef.  During my dining experience I was visited by General Manager and Owner Jerry Tingle and we chatted for a while about how Cask 63 came to be and about what they are attempting to achieve.  One of the interesting things to note, is that although the restaurant has it’s own vision and concept of what it wants to be, Jerry and Brian are very much in tune with what their customers want.  Jerry can be found mingling with customers most nights, searching for suggestions on ways to improve the experience.  I find it a nice touch when the owner visits your table and asks for your opinion on things.

For an appetizer I had oysters of the day  paired with Perrier Jouet Champagne.  For a main course I had Australian lamb chops.  These were double bone-in, which gives you a much bigger juicier portion than single bone.  As a fan of lamb, and all grilled meats, I have to say this was one of the best incarnations of this dish I have ever had.  Although I do like ‘gamey” tasting lamb dishes, this dish was not gamey and I could have easily mistook it for beef.  It was delicious.  I paired this with a rather unusual wine…Vall Llach Embruix – Priorat from Spain.  This was a very interesting wine.  It was described to me as the perfect wine for people who like Cabernet, Zinfandel and Merlot.  Full bodied, smooth, with dark ripe fruit and hints of spice.

As far as the wine goes at Cask 63, you will find many of the standard high end favorites that seem to be prerequisites at wine bars seeking to endear themselves to wine aficionados.  You will find all the well known Napa greats like Silver Oak, Caymus, Far Niente, and Joseph Phelps Insignia. I was happy to see some of my favorite and less well known wines including Ladera Howell Mountain and Justin Isosceles.  Including bubbles the wine list boasts almost 100 names varying in price from $7.50 a glass all the way up to Hundred Acre’s Kayle Morgan Vineyard for $490 a bottle.

Weekly Wine Journal Restaurant Rating: 90 points

Cask63.com

Blue Tooth Wine Society celebrates with JAW cellars

Arizona wine broker

The lineup!

The “Blue Tooth Wine Society” celebrated the holiday season this past Saturday night at the home of Jim Wiskerchen.  Jim is the founder of the Blue Tooth Wine Society, a group of people who share a common interest in learning about wine in a relaxed and friendly environment.  The BTWS currently has 275 members.

Arizona wine maker

Jim Wiskerchen

Jim Wiskerchen is also a wine broker for many Arizona wineries.  Currently Jim sells just under 10,000 cases of wine a year for his winery partners, and he plans to double that in 2012.

But wait, theres more!  Jim is also a winemaker!  Jim’s first vintage was released just a few months ago: JAW Cellars “Meritaz”  a play on the Meritage name, containing a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, aged 24 months in New French oak

Jim plans on increasing production in 2012 to over 175 cases.  He also will be releasing more varietals.  His plans include a Malbec, a dry Zinfandel, a Red Bordeaux blend and a white Bordeaux blend and a GSM.  He also is planning a Torrontes, a wine which has done quite well in Argentina.

Rare Jem: '95 Quilceda Creek

The holiday party was attended by a variety of guests, the more die hard fans of the Blue Tooth Wine Society!  Each brought a wine to share.  The variety was incredible.  From The Duro, Portugal to Campo de Borja, Spain.  From Sonoma, Napa and Lodi to Washington State and Arizona.

Some of the rare gems we enjoyed included a 1995 Quilceda Creek Cabernet and a 2005 Caduceus Cellars “Nagual Del

Rare Jem: '05 Caduceus Sensei

Sensei” and a Cameron Hughes Lot 200

Follow Jim Wiskerchen on Twitter

Join the Blue Tooth Wine Society here at Meetup.com

Arizona Wine Festival on the Farm | Nov 19 2011

wine tasting farm at south mountain

Arizona Wine Festival on the Farm, held amongst the pecan groves on The Farm at South Mountain, Phoenix Arizona

The 3rd annual Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Festival on the Farm will be held at The Farm at South Mountain this Saturday, November 29th, 2011

The annual wine festival is THE Arizona Wine event of the year – YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS IT! ;)

The Arizona Wine Festival will feature 20 wineries pouring wines from Arizona’s wine producing regions of Verde Valley, Wilcox, Sonoita and Elgin.  In addition  there will be a People’s Choice wine competition and educational seminars such as Wine Pairings 101.

wine peoples choice award

Wine education seminars and people's choice awards

The Festival will culminate with an amazing auction.  Last year some of the amazing items on the block included dinner for 4 prepared in your home by FnB’s Pavle Milic and Charlene Badman, and the top auction block which fetched $8000 was dinner with Maynard Keenan prepared by Mark Tarbel.

Tickets for the event are still available here:

Central Coast Chardonnay roundup #1 | Mer Soleil | Layer Cake | Chalone

Wines reviewed in this article:  Mer Soleil Silver 2008|Layer Cake 2009 Virgin Chardonnay|Chalone 2009 Monterey

Photo courtesy of Ben Ladouceur

While many parts of North America are still in the grip of winter I have been preparing for spring and summer by tasting Chardonnay.  That way, when everyone else finally thaws out ( I live in Phoenix ) they will already have some Chardonnay “inception” on the brain.  Let’s get started!

The vast Central Coast region of California  stretches 250 miles from Santa Barbara County all the way up to San Francisco .  The massive region encompasses 6 Counties and 26 different sub A.V.A’s (American Viticultural Area).  There are more than 90,000 acres of vines planted in the Central Coast and about half those acres are Chardonnay.  One of those sub AVA’s is The Santa Lucia Highlands which is located  about 30 miles east of Monterey, California overlooking  the Salinas valley, the same Salinas valley made famous in many of John Steinbeck’s novels.

2008 Mer Soleil Silver

Mer Soleil Vineyard is located on the southern end of the AVA and is named after the influences of the Ocean (Mer) and the Sun (Soleil). The Mer Soleil vineyard is actually part of the Wagner family of wines.  The Wagner family has a very long history of wine making in California, and just in case you still don’t know who they are…have you heard of Caymus? Now we’re talking!

Mer Soleil makes two styles of Chardonnay, oaked, and unoaked (Silver).  Mer Soleil Silver is fermented in cement and stainless steel tanks and does not undergo Malolactic fermentation.  The vineyard subscribes to the agricultural practice of crop rotation and according to the vineyard  nearby lemon orchards is impart their flavor profile of the wines.

Mer Soleil’s website has little to offer in terms of technicals on their wine, so I have no information on total production, brix ect.  But it does let us know a little about the style.  A mix of Chablis like minerality and tropical fruit.   I found the wine to be rich, with solid acidity, and slightly riper than I expected, which was pleasant.  Think lemon and grapefruit.  The wine is dry and has a  nice big mouthfeel.  The alcohol weighs in at a hefty 14.8% but don’t let that scare you, its really well balanced with the fruit and I didn’t detect any off putting “heat” from it.  Mer Soleil Silver retails for around $20 a bottle.

Virgin Chardonnay label Layer Cake

Are you tempted by the cake??

You might have seen Layer Cake’s eye catching label, a nice big slice of layer cake, and you might have been tempted to buy the wine purely on that association and I forgive you for that because I bought their wines for the same reason!  Laker Cake’s 2009 Central Coast “Virgin” Chardonnay’s fruit is sourced from two vineyards within the Central Coast AVA; Monterey and Santa Barbara.

Layer Cake’s  Chardonnay is quite different than Mer Soleil’s Silver even though both are unoaked.  The first thing you will notice is the difference in alcohol content, with the Virgin Chardonnay coming in at a refreshingly light 13.5%.  The wine is lighter on the palate, with less minerality though it still retains enough to make it interesting.  The fruit is more lime and pineapple than grapefruit.  This wine retails for $13.99 and was provided to me as a sample for review

Chalone Chardonnay bottleChalone Vineyard 2009 Monterey Chardonnay.  Chalone Vineyard Estate is the oldest winery in Monterey County, and is the only winery in the Chalone AVA.  Chalone received international critical acclaim in the Judgment of Paris, 1976 earning 3rd spot out of 10.   As different as Layer Cake was to Mer Soleil, Chalone is to both of those wines.  Chalone makes wine very much in the French, Burgundian style.  The grapes are sourced from the northern portion of the Salinas Valley, in the Arroyo Seco AVA.  The soil consists largely of limestone which gives us a clue to the Burgundian connection.  By “Burgundian” I mean terroir or specific place driven wine as apposed to producer driven wine such as Bordeaux.  Chalone’s Monterey Chardonnay is also relatively light when compared to the typical Chardonnays of Napa Valley, the alcohol comes in at 13.5%   This wine, in contrast to the other two, saw 6 months in a combination of French, American and European oak.  Light on the oak, but enough to soften the crispness of the mountain fruit a little, as well as add another layer of complexity not found in the other two wines.  This wine retails for around $10 which is actually an amazing deal.

These three wines should keep you busy with variety for at least a weekend.  Next week I will have 3 more Chardonnays for your consideration

Cheers!