phoenix

Original Taste to benefit Arizona charities April 2nd 2011

Original taste scottsdaleThis Saturday night the Scottsdale Waterfront will play host to one of valley’s signature charity events.

“The Original Taste,” will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2011 from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, and other children’s based charities supported by Executive Council Charities.

Attendees of “The Original Taste” will have the opportunity to discover flavors from around the globe that are available at some of Metropolitan Phoenix’s finest dining establishments. Over 40 of the Valley’s most recognizable restaurants will be showcasing their talents and over 70 varieties of wine and spirits from around the world will be available to sample.

Tickets are priced at $100 (General Admission) and $200 (VIP access) if purchased before March 1, or $150 (General Admission) and $250 (VIP access) between March 1 and the evening of the event.  Information regarding sponsorship opportunities is also available on “The Original Taste” website.

In addition, the after party, known as “Late Night” will be held immediately following “The Original Taste.”  Pricing for “Late Night” will be $25 (General Admission) or $100 (VIP access) and can also be purchased (independently of The Original Taste tickets) on The Original Taste website.

scottsdale wine tasting“We’re incredibly excited to hold this event on a Saturday night at the Scottsdale Waterfront as it allows us to draw from the thousands of individuals who head to Old Town Scottsdale each weekend,” said EC70’s Dane Fernandes, Chairman of The Original Taste.  “Those who would typically dine at a nearby restaurant can experience a vast array of food and beverage options.  Plus, ‘Late Night’ will present a unique, one-of-a-kind experience.  Ultimately, these events give us an opportunity to raise more money for the children of Arizona.”

For tickets and more information regarding “The Original Taste” and “Late Night,” visit the Original Taste WEBSITE

Updated LIST of participating restaurants

Palette to Palate kicks off Devoured Culinary Classic 2011

Devoured Culinary Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum was the setting for Palette to Palate 2011

The people who snapped up the 250 VIP tickets for Palette to Palate last Friday night at the Phoenix Art Museum were treated to some of Arizona’s finest food and wine pairings.

The lineup of Chef’s included Payton Curry and Geoffrey Gersten with the team at Guerrilla

Payton Curry and The Guerrilla Gourmet

Gourmet, James Porter and Randy Slack from Petite Maison, Aaron Chamberlin chef and owner of St. Francis and James Angel and last but not least Silvana Salcido Esparza from Barrio Cafe with Hector Ruiz.

St Francis Phoenix

Aaron Chamberlin's Salmon and Beet creation

Arizona wine makers Sam Pillsbury (Pillsbury Wine Company), Todd and Kelly Bostock (Dos Cabezas) and representatives of Arizona Stronghold Vineyards were on hand pouring wines to be paired with the Chef’s creations.

Check out the Weekly Wine Journal’s FACEBOOK page for more photos from this event.  Don’t forget to hit the “LIKE” button (but only if you really do like!)

Below is a video summary of the event including interviews with Chef James Porter and Chef Aaron Chamberlin.

Devoured Culinary Classic ready to woo and wow!

Calgary PhotographerDevoured (www.phxart.org/devoured).  Independently edible award-winning culinary event, a showcase of Arizona’s finest local restaurants, chefs, wineries and industry purveyors in a distinctly Phoenix setting.  Hosted by Phoenix Art Museum, benefiting Local First Arizona and Phoenix Art Museum, and produced by R Entertainment Co.

WHERE

Phoenix Art Museum (1625 N. Central Ave) Central Avenue and McDowell Rd.

Dorrance Sculpture Garden and Great Hall

  • FREE Parking
  • METRO Lightrail: McDowell Rd/Central Ave stop

WHEN

Friday Saturday & Sunday, March 11, 12 & 13

Fri., March 11, Devoured *Palette to Palate, 7:30pm (limited to 250 guests)

New this year at Devoured. Phoenix Art Museum Great Hall

An adventurous pairing of artists & chefs – developed by Local First Arizona & the Men’s Arts Council of Phoenix Art Museum. Integrating harmonious styles of food & art – and exploring the results! Featuring St. Francis Chef Aaron Chamberlin & painter James Angel; Petite Maison Chef James Porter & painter Randy Slack; Caffé Boa Chef Payton Curry & painter Geoffrey Gersten; Barrio Café Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza & painter Lalo Cota

*heavy hors d’oeuvres & Arizona wines

Sat. & Sun., March 12 & 13, Devoured Culinary Classic, 11am-4pm

A grand tour of Arizona’s finest culinary talents & pioneering winemakers…Taste, discover & meet them – up close & personal.

TICKETS

Devoured, a grand culinary experience…at a remarkable value

Tickets & Information at www.PhxArt.org/Devoured

Tickets via www.ProTix.com or call 1.866.977.6849

Daily Tickets.  $59 through March 11; $69 at the door.

Two-day Tickets.  $90 in advance through March 11. $118 at the door.

Weekend Pass. (3days). $118 through March 11

Museum Members.  2-days $90. Members call 602.257.2124

HIGHLIGHTS

SubZero/Wolf Ferguson’s Chef Demonstration Stage

Saturday

11:30 – Jacques Qualin, J&G Steakhouse

12:30 – Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Café

1:30 – Anthony Dias Blue – James Beard Award winner & among world’s leading wine experts…Mr. Blue talk Arizona Wine scene

2:30 – Julia Baker, Julia Baker Confections

3:30 – Aaron May, Vitamin T

Sunday

11:30 – Payton Curry, Guerrilla Gourmet

12:30 – Bernie Kantak, Citizen Public House, with mixologist Richie Moe

1:30 – Matt Smith, Boa Bistro/Caffé Boa, with Empty Glass Wines

2:30 – Justin Beckett, Beckett’s Table

*each chef’s dish featured with a suggested wine pairing

AJ’S Fine Foods Dessert Lounge. A new feature inside Phoenix Art Museum’s Great Hall featuring AJ’s bakery specialties; Urban Cookies, Delicious Dishes and Espressions Coffee Roastery.

Musical Entertainment

Saturday

11:00am – What Laura Says

1:30pm – Hot Birds and the Chili Sauce

Sunday

11:00am – Steve Ansel & The Jackson Street Band

12:15pm – Roger Clyne (& promoting his new tequila, Mexican Moonshine)

1:30pm – Calumet

AWARDS & ACCOLADES

In its debut year, Devoured was named 2010 Critic’s Choice for culinary events by The Arizona Republic. Additionally…

  • Named Best Culinary Festival 2010 by Phoenix New Times
  • Named one of 5 Best Dining Developments of 2010 by The Arizona Republic’s food & restaurant critic Howard Seftel, (second only to reopening of Nobuo at Teeter House).
  • “Here’s the excuse you were looking for to put your diet on hiatus…” – Jess Harter, East Valley Tribune
  • “Tasty treats can be found at just about any festival, but true foodies should seek out Devoured Phoenix…” WHERE Magazine

Blind tasting Wine | Almost as Delicious as Humble Pie

Sometimes we all need a thick slice of humble pie to chew on. If you find yourself routinely puffing your chest out or staring for long periods in the mirror at your handsome reflection, I suggest a blind tasting.

wine tasting at FnB Scottsdale

Lots of wines, no labels

Not only are they grounding, but blind tastings are also a great way to test your “wine chops”.  A while back, I attended a blind tasting at a local wine bar.   There were 4 wines, 2 whites and 2 reds.  We did not know the varietals or where they came from– known as a “Double Blind” tasting. We were given only one clue: The wines were single varietals, not blends.

When blind tasting, every part of the wine tasting process needs to be intricately analyzed. Is the wine pale in color, like water? Or is it a deep, honey golden color? When it’s swirled, how viscous does it appear – thin and watery, or cloying and thick? Are the aromas more earthy and woody, or sweet and fruity? When tasting, is the wine heavy with mouth drying tannins or more light and silky? Each identifiable characteristic will act like a piece to a puzzle, helping you more accurately label a wine a certain way.
To make it even more interesting, the wine bar was offering a $25 gift certificate to anyone who could guess all 4 wines correctly.  After all the eager contestants had arrived, we got down to business.
weekly wine journal wine blogThe first white wine was placed before us like a microorganism beneath a microscope. Guests put their noses in the glasses, taking notes, swirling and gazing into the distance searching for analogies. This was repeated several times, as gazes turned to puzzled, contorted facial expressions.
I found the first wine tasted like lemon Theraflu – not exactly appealing. The second white wine was marginally better with a sort of buttery chardonnay mixed with grassy Sauvignon Blanc taste, a somewhat confusing flavor profile for me.  Halfway through the competition and my confidence had already taken a harder beating than BP Oil.
weekly wine journal wine blogNext came the reds. The first red wine had me completely stumped.  It was unlike any red wine I had ever tasted before, and not in an amazingly good way either.  I found it to be one of the single worst tasting wines I have ever tasted and I couldn’t finish it.  The other guests finished theirs, and the girl next to me remarked that she really like it. I thought to myself, “if you like flavors of nail polish and forest fire with a muddy dirty mouth feel and very little in the way of fruit, this is right up your alley.”
The second red wine I liked a lot more; smooth, with decent fruit, light acidity and tannins. My mind went straight to Merlot. Without a doubt, no questions asked.
It turned out to be a Cabernet.  Then the moment we had all been waiting for – the results. While the $25 gift certificate would be nice, it was our pride that we were all hoping to walk away with.
The first white: Pinot Grigio. I could have sworn it was blended with Theraflu.
The second white: a Sauvignon Blanc – I was almost there!
The third of our flight turned out to be a Zinfandel (a poor excuse for Zinfandel, if you ask me).
And finally, the fourth and final wine… a Cabernet Sauvignon. I would have bet good money it had been a Merlot. Maybe they had poured me the wrong stuff?
We looked around the room to find that a few had 3 out of the 4 pegged correctly, but nobody got them all right. No cash prizes, but there were plenty of defeated wine aficionados.
Blind tasting is a learning experience to say the least. Analyzing wine without knowing the brand, varietal, or price point really puts your palate to the test and is the single most honest way to evaluate a wine.  It’s an interesting and fun way to add mystery and intrigue to a wine tasting or wine party, especially if you venture out of the more well known grape, wine regions and flavor profiles.
Have you ever put your palate to the test in a blind setting?  If so, what were the results? Were you pleasantly surprised with your wine wherewithal? Or did you leave with a bruised palate ego?
Edited by Jon Troutman

New President of the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association | Peggy Fiandaca

Here is a quick 5 minute video with Peggy Fiandaca, the new President of the Arizona Wine Grower’s Association (2011).  Peggy brings many unique and valuable skill sets to the table and in this interview she explains a few of them.

Lawrence Dunham Vineyards WEBSITE

Partners for Strategic Action WEBSITE

Affordable California Cult Wines | Venge Vineyards

“California Cult Wines” usually connote images of big wigs spending massive amounts of money, bidding on wines at auction. I was lucky enough to attend a tasting that made me rethink the definition of Cult Wine. This is the second installment of a five part series, where I profile wineries making small amounts of incredible quality wines, at very reasonable prices.

Venge Vineyards was founded in 1992 by Nils Venge, who is known as “The King of Cabernet”.  After graduating UC Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Grape Vine Viticulture, Nils took a job at well known Sterling Vineyards. In 1971 he was hired by Villa Mount Eden as their first wine maker.  While there he made the 1974 and 1978 vintages of Cabernet which put Villa Mount Eden on the map. While at Villa Mount Eden, Nils and his father in law bought a 17 acre Cabernet Vineyard right in the heart of Oakville.  The vineyard supplied Villa Mount Eden with its grapes and is now surrounded by other big names such as Silver Oak, Opus One and Groth.  In 1982 Nils Venge became a minority partner with Dennis Groth, and helped form Groth Vineyard.  His skills as a wine maker became well known while he was at Groth, and in 1985 the Cabernet Sauvignon received a 100 point rating from Robert Parker, making it the first Californian wine to receive 100 points. In 1992, Nils took his amazing track record and formed his namesake vineyard, Venge Vineyards.
In 2008 Venge moved operations to the newly acquired Rossini Ranch, a 12 acre cabernet ranch.  Over the years Venge Vineyards has consistently attained amazing ratings.  Check the last 3 vintages of the Family Reserve Cabernet for example:
2005: 94 points, Wine Enthusiast,
2006: 95 points, Robert Parker
2007: 95-98 points Robert Parker.
Only 150 six-bottle cases of the 2007 vintage were produced and at $125 it would seem like a good investment. Not everyone can afford to drop 100+ dollars on a bottle of wine, and luckily Venge produces much more affordable, Cult-quality wines. These are some labels to look out for.
2009 Venge, Champs de Fleur Proprietary White:
The name comes from the French term “field of flowers”, which is what the aromatics of this wine are like.  There are slight lemon grass accents and solid tropical fruit flavors on the palate.  A little bit of passion fruit and lemon drop in the mix, and you’re in for a treat.
The blend is 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 34% Chardonnay, and 11% Viognier, with the alcohol weighing in at 14.5%. This wine was whole cluster pressed and each varietal was fermented in separate stainless steel tanks before being moved to neutral French oak for 8 months. 25% of the wine underwent Malolactic fermentation which adds a nice softness to the finish. With only 675 cases produced and retail price of $25 a bottle, this certainly constitutes as a California Cult wine.
The second extremely good value Venge has to offer is called “Scout’s Honor’ named after Nils’ his dog.  Robert Parker raves about this wine calling it a “superb value” and states that the 2007 vintage is the best yet, awarding it 92 points. The 2008 vintage is currently in pre-release and you can only buy 2 bottles at a time from the website. Again, if this isn’t cult wine, I don’t know what is.
The 2008 Scout’s Honor blend is 66% Zinfandel, 15% Petite Sirah, 15% Charbono, and 4% Syrah. Charbono is not common in California, however it is the 2nd most popular varietal in Argentina where it is called Bonarda.  It was aged for 16 months in 60% new American Oak from Missouri. The alcohol is a knock you on your butt 15.2% – wow!  The beauty of this wine is that there is absolutely no heat present; the alcohol is very well integrated. The nose is full of red cherry and licorice while the palate is rich and very ripe with peppery accents. There is also a bit of minerality from the Charbono; very interesting, complex with a nice long finish.  Just over 1,000 cases were produced, and it’s priced at $38 on the Venge website. Thankfully, my favorite local wine merchant has it for $23.99!  If you like the more ripe, Lodi style of Zinfandel but want something with more complexity, you will definitely want to get your hands on a case of this wine.
Stay tuned for three more names to watch for, producing Cult-like quality at prices that won’t break the bank.

Affordable California Cult Wines, part 1 | Robert Young

wine labelA while back I attended a wine tasting billed as “5 Affordable California Cult Wines”.  Affordable and Cult?  This I had to see. Below is the first of a five part article series reviewing these Cult California labels that I was impressed by.

The first of the wines sampled was the 2006 Robert Young Reserve Chardonnay. According to the label, Robert Young Estate Winery, “Is a tribute to our heritage as fourth generation farmers deeply rooted in the Alexander Valley since 1858″.
I needed to dig a little deeper.  According to Susan Young Sheehy, Robert’s daughter, the history of her family in the Alexander Valley started with her great grandfather, Peter Young, who moved to California from upstate New York in the 1800’s and bought a farm. Robert Young was born two generations later in 1919. After The Great Depression which almost saw the family to lose the farm, the Young family eventually hit its stride. In 1963 Robert Young planted the very first Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the now well known wine region of Sonoma’s Alexander Valley.  The first crops were more successful than anticipated and Robert began tearing out the prune orchards.  By 1967 he had planted Chardonnay. In 1976 Chateau St. Jean put the Robert Young name on their label, making the specific vineyard designation a first in American wine. Today, the vineyard produces 14 premium varieties, producing nearly 2,000 tons of grapes. Only 75 tons of these grapes are reserved for the Robert Young Estate Chardonnay, sourced from the very best vines. Their 130 acres of Chardonnay consist of two clones (#17 and #26) which were sourced from Burgundy vines and developed by Robert Young in collaboration with UC Davis.  Many people consider the #17 clone (or the “Robert Young Clone”) to be the very best American Chardonnay.  In 2008 Robert and his son Jim were recognised for their significant contributions to Sonoma County Viticulture and were awarded the Viticulture Award of Excellence by the Sonoma County Wine Grape Commission. Robert Young passed away on June 19th, 2009 at age 90.  What an incredible life! Something to think about while sipping this fantastic Chardonnay:
2006 Robert Young Reserve Chardonnay.  100% Estate grown in Alexander Valley, Sonoma County.  This wine saw 14 months in 40% new French oak, 100% barrel fermented with full malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol weighs in at 14.3% and production was 3,285 cases.  At my favorite wine shop it is selling for $23.99.  This wine was rated 90 points by Wine Spectator and 92 points by Wine Enthusiast. Most of the previous vintages have scored 92-93 points, the exception being the 02 vintage which scored 89 points from Wine Spectator.  However, the 01 vintage received 96 points, Editors Choice and best White Wine of the Year from Wine Enthusiast.
Fans of  rich, full bodied, dry and oaky Chardonnay will love this, with its multi-layered mid palate displaying a nutty and fig like component with a creamy finish.
If you are looking for something a little more “cultish” you could try to track down a bottle of the Robert Young Cabernet “Big Block”, with only 145 cases produced.  If that is still not cultish enough you could try their 2007 Barrel Select Chardonnay which was aged in 2 Seguin Moreau French oak barrels, only enough to make 48 cases.
Though it sounds like an oxy-moron, the small production and long history behind this label make Robert Young a contender as an afforable, California Cult wine. Do you have any personally crowned, affordable California “Cult” wines?
Edited by Jon Troutman

Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour visits Arizona

Wine tasting

Guests at the Grand Tasting

This past week the Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour visited El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley.  The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and their local partners put on a week long celebration of the Paso Robles wine region.  In all 34 wineries and vineyards were represented. For a list of the vineyards scroll to the bottom of the page.

The week of wine started off on Monday, February 7th with wine maker dinners at Petite Maison and Ranchot Pinot.  The very next night saw more wine maker dinners at 5th and Wine, Cowboy Ciao and Big Daddy’s BBQ.  There were some after hours events held at Kazimierz Wine Bar in Scottsdale, as well as a special “Staff Meal” at Petite Maison and a walk through wine tasting at AZ Wine Company.

Seminar scottsdale

Industry seminar

The big day for wine tasting was Wednesday February 9th.  Starting at 1pm there was an educational seminar held for about 40 local distributors, retailers and restauranteurs . Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Stacie Jacob started out by introducing us to the wine makers and letting us know where exactly the Paso Robles AVA is.  Paso Robles is about a one hour flight and a half hour drive from San Luis Obispo.  People in the metro Phoenix area would find this to be a very convenient weekend getaway.

Stacie then handed the seminar over to the wine makers.  Ted Plemons of Cass Winery, Doug Beckett of Peach Canyon, JC Diefenderfer of Hope Family Wines and

Steve Peck

Steve Peck red wine maker for J. Lohr

Steve Peck of J. Lohr talked for about an hour.  Each wine maker talked about the uniqueness of the Paso Robles AVA and especially the value.  They really stressed the value, and Steve Peck put it succinctly stating that their neighbors to the north might say “Well if so and so is getting $50 a bottle then I should get $60, well in Paso Robles it’s not like that”.   In Paso Robles the pricing is very closely related to the direct costs rather than who has the “best” Cabernet or what other people are charging.

Peachy Canyon Wine

Doug Becket from Peachy Canyon

I sat at a table with Doug Beckett, proprietor of Peachy Canyon Winery.  Doug spoke passionately about the region and sustainable practices versus organic certification.  He received a warm round of applause when he stated boldly that organic farming “Is Crap”,  he explained why by saying “You may have heard of something called WIND. Well even if you are certified organic, if your neighbor is spraying chemicals then it blows onto your property”  He went on to explain how much more comprehensive sustainable farming is than organic certification.

wine tasting

Tasting the wines

While we were listening to each gentleman speak, we were also enjoying examples of their wines.  In all their were 8 wines to taste.  These wines were presented as value driven wines, ready to drink now, primarily for use in a restaurant setting.  There’s no use pouring a wine for a customer and then telling them that it will be great in 5 years.  It needs to be great right now.  We tasted a wide variety of styles and price points from a Viognier Marsanne blend from Cass Winery with a retail of $20 to a Cabernet Syrah blend from Hope Family Wines retailing for $50.  One of the wines that I found to be particularly good was J. Lohr Hilltop Vineyard Cabernet which is actually a blend of 80% Cabernet, 6% Petite Sirah, 4% Malbec, 4% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc.  I managed to get a little interview with Steve Peck the following night at a special wine tasting at AZ Wine Company.

wine tasting outside

Sun setting on El Chorro Lodge

After the trade seminar there was a media tasting between 2 and 5pm.  Guests tasted wines from the 30+ wineries that made the trip out to Arizona.  I tasted A LOT of wine.  I carried around my own spittoon as ingesting all of this wine in the middle of the afternoon would have had a rather unpleasant result!  By four o’ clock I had overloaded my palate, but a few wines managed to stand out for me.  Derby Wine Estates Reserve Pinot Noir and Kenneth Volk Vineyards Touriga Nacional.

Scottsdale wine tasting

The evening festivities

At 6 p.m. the public event got underway.  Guests were treated to the wines and a very nice catered dinner on the patio while the sun was setting on an absolutely perfect Arizona winter day.  The next night  I attended a wine tasting at AZ Wine company featuring Justin, Opolo, J. Lohr, Ancient Peaks, L’Aventure and Sextant, see more pictures of the weeks events on Facebook.

Wineries List:

Adelaida Cellars

Alta Colina Vineyard and Winery

Ancient Peaks Winery

Caliza Winery

Cass Winery

Clavo Cellars

Clayhouse Wines

Derby Wine Estates

Eberle Winery

Grey Wolf Vineyards and Cellars

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Hansen Winery

Hearst Ranch Winery

J & J Cellars

J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines

Justin Vineyards and Winery

Kenneth Volk Vineyards

L’Aventure Winery

Le Vigne

Lone Madrone

Midnight Cellars

Niner Wine Estates

Opolo Vineyards

Peachy Canyon Winery

Robert Hall Winery

Sextant Wines

Silver Horse Winery

Thacher Winery

Treana and Hope Family Wines

Ventuex Vineyards

Victor Hugo Winery

Vina Robles

Arizona Wine Grower’s reception|Quiessence restaurant|2010

Every once in a while I am lucky enough to attend a truly remarkable wine event.  Not that the other events are not remarkable.

Arizona wine awards banquet 2010

Quiessence Restaurant

It’s just that some events are so special that they really give you that feeling that you are in the midst of or witness to the start of something exceptional.  The 2nd annual Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Awards reception 2010 was one of those events.

The banquet was held at Quiessence restaurant at The Farm at South Mountain.  First a little background about the Farm:  Originally developed by Dwight Heard of the Heard museum, in the 1920’s the 10 acre parcel was planted with over 100 pecan trees.  These trees still stand today and provide a wonderful, lush and serene setting for Quiessence restaurant which is nestled way in the back of the property. Quiessence has accumulated an impressive list of awards but even more impressive were the culinary creations of executive chef Gregory LaPrad and Chef du Cuisine Anthony Adiario that were paired with the gold medal winning wines

The food and wine pairings were set up at 7 different stations around the restaurant and out in the garden. Here is a list of the menu and wine pairings:

House Cured Meats & Salumi – Arizona Stronghold Vineyards “Dayden” 2009

Winter Squash Soup – Caduceus “Dos Ladrones” 2009

Handmade pasta: Capunti with tomato, eggplant, fennel and sardines – Caduceus “Kitsune” Sangiovese 2008

Potato & Cheese Francobolli with Black Trumpet Mushroom Cream Sauce – ASV Bonita Springs Chardonnay 2009

Housemade Boudin Blanc Sausage with “El Norte” Braised Crimson Gold Apples & Fried Sage – Dos Cabezas “El Norte” 2008

“Frito Misto” Crispy Fried Shrimp, Calamari & Alaskan Halibut – Merkin “The Diddler” 2009

Braised Beef Wellington with Roasted Vegetable Compote – Alcantara Cabernet Sauvignon 2007-Paso Robles

Desserts: Petit Fours, Truffles & Confections – Sonoita Sparkles Peach

Quiessence Restaurant phoenix

Chef du Cuisine Anthony Adiario

Also out in the garden were a cellist and a violinist playing contemporary music accompanied by an Macbook back up band which really added a nice touch to the ambience.

I was introduced to a man named Bob Webb, who founded the first winery in Arizona back in 1980.  I had a very interesting discussion with Mr. Webb.  One of my dreams is to buy some land and plant a vineyard and start a winery, which is quite unlike any other wine bloggers dreams!   Mr Webb was actually retired out of the wine business but recently came out of retirement when he decided to plant vines in the spring of 2010.  He said it’s in his blood, he cant stop.  Mr Webb planted multiple varieties on 13 acres high in the Sierra Madre mountain range.  At elevations above 7,000 feet these could possibly be the highest vineyards in North America.  He says he will only make wine from those vines if the fruit is exceptional, otherwise he will just scrap the idea.  I will be writing more on this project in the future.

Later on I  met legendary Arizona wine maker Kent Callaghan (pronounced Calla Gan).  We were talking inside in a small hallway and I told him I had grown up in British Columbia and suddenly he became animated.  Kent is actually a shy and humble guy – not very comfortable with the limelight. But with the B.C. connection he became a bit more animated.  He told me that his parents had owned property on Galiano Island  and  he had learned how to grow grapes from his father there.  Then he said “Hey, you like wine? Come with me.”  This is where an event like this becomes truly interesting… we went outside and he reached under one of the tables and pulled a couple of bottles of wine out of a box.  I sat with Mr Callaghan and Todd Bostock and drank some truly remarkable wine which shall remain nameless.

This event was a very nice and  intimate conclusion to a year of hard work by the Arizona wine industry.  It was really nice to see all of the people I have interviewed and met over the past year all in one place.

Visit the Weekly Wine Journal’s Facebook page for more PHOTOS

Here is a short video of some scenes from the evening:

List of Award Winners HERE

Arizona Wine Grower’s Association Award winners 2010

ARIZONA GROWER’S CUP Wine produced from Arizona grown fruit

RED WINE:

Gold:  Caduceus Cellars Kitsune, 2008

Silver: Dos Cabezas WineWorks, El Norte, 2008

Bronze:  Arizona Stronghold, Mangus 2008, Merkin Vineyards Shinola, 2009 Callaghan Vineyards, Padres 2007

WHITE WINE

Gold:  Merkin Vineyards, The Diddler, 2009

Silver: Callaghan Vineyards, Lisa’s 2009

Bronze: Carlson Creek Vineyards, Sauvignon blanc 2009, Caduceus Cellars Dos Ladrones 2009, Arizona Stronghold Site Archives 2009 Bonita Springs Chardonnay

ROSE

Gold: Arizona Stronghold Dayden 2009

Silver: Merkin Vineyards Lei Li 2009

Bronze: Dos Cabezas WineWorks Pink 2009

DESSERT WINE

Gold: Sonoita Vineyards Peach Sparkles NV

Silver: Coronado Vineyards Conquistador Red NV

Bronze: Wilhelm Family Vineyards Orange Muscat 2009, Four Monkey Naughty Monkey NV

ARIZONA WINE MAKER’S MEDAL Wine produced in Arizona

RED WINE:

Gold:  Alcantara Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Silver: Alcantara Vineyards, Meritage (B Blend) 2007

Bronze: Caduceus Cellars, Anubis 2008. Caduceus Cellars, Sancha 2008. Alcantara Vineyards, sangiovese 2007

WHITE WINE

Gold: Caduceus Cellars Dos Ladrones 2009

Silver: Alcantara Chardonnay 2008

Bronze: Page Springs Cellars ASV Chardonnay 2008

Here is the video of the awards presentation, in 2 parts:

part 1:

part 2: