Arizona Wine at Devoured 2013
Pavle Milic knows his way around a bottle of Arizona wine, so when he graciously offered to give us the rundown on the local wine showcased last weekend at Devoured, we jumped at the chance. Full disclosure: As co-owner of FnB in Scottsdale, Milic serves AZ wine and he's in the process of making his own wine for the first time with the help of the folks from Dos Cabezas.
I'm sitting in the backseat of a car, two people in the front, and I'm drinking champagne through the cork of a bottle as we pass Bunt High School in Brooklyn. The two people in the front are lawyers. One turns and says to me, "What are you doing drinking through the cork?" and I say, "I'm bunting."
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I woke up wondering what the hell that dream was about, and I guess it can only be explained as a side effect from Devoured this past weekend. Not only was there great food, but great wine as well.
In my humble opinion, this is probably the annual food event that best showcases the local restaurant scene. I was pleased to see some local wineries showcased, including Arizona Stronghold, Dos Cabezas, Pillsbury, Page Springs, and Sand Reckoner. What was even cooler is that they were being poured next to a lot of non-Arizona wine from all over the world, and though I was slightly underwhelmed by a couple of the wines, they held their own overall.
My first stop was Arizona Stronghold. Paula, the director of sales, was there pouring the vineyard's 2011 wines, and was as engaging and gregarious as usual. The first wine we tasted was the Dala Chardonnay. For the sake of background, Dala means "one" in Apache (all of Arizona Stronghold's wines are named for something in that language), because it's 100 percent Chardonnay.
I've enjoyed this wine many times in the past, and for Chardonnay, this is definitely lighter-bodied, not overly buttery or oaky as many Chardonnays can be. It's not too complex, just very easy to drink. The nose is citrusy, not too creamy. After that we moved to the Tazi, which is by far my favorite wine in their lineup. I find it aromatic and refreshing, a blend of 28 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 25 percent Riesling, 18 percent Malvasia, and 16 percent Chenin Blanc. If I had to compare this wine to another that is well-known, I'd say it remind me of Conundrum. On the nose, it's very pretty and floral, reminiscent of a German Riesling or even Vouvray (French Chenin Blanc). I also appreciate the lack of overbearing oak on this wine, and that's, of course, due to the fact that it is aged in stainless steel and neutral oak.
In the red wine lineup, Paula was pouring both Mangus and Nachise. Their rendition of a super Tuscan style wine (a term used when when the Chianti varietal Sangiovese is blended with Bordeaux varietals), Mangus is 69 percent Sangiovese, 13 percent Merlot, 12 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 4 percent Petit Verdot, 2 percent Cabernet Franc. Unlike a true super Tuscan, this wine is fruitier, less dusty, a little bit more lean, and with good structure. It's overall pretty accessible and makes for easy drinking. The Nachise is their version of a Rhone blend using Syrah, Grenache, Petit Syrah, and Mourvedre. This wine has always performed very well for them and in many blind tastings has received a lot of awards. On the nose you get a lot of dark fruits, it's not overly tannic, and I think Arizona soil does very well with these varietals.