Arizona Wine at Devoured 2013
I have to give a tip of the hat to Tim White, winemaker at Arizona Stronghold. Overall, he makes wines that are well-balanced, well-structured, especially for the affordable price point. Because of my association with Arizona wine, people often ask me about the ownership of the company. To set the record straight, the owners are Maynard James Keenan and Eric Glomski and family, but in terms of winemaking, Tim deserves the credit.
We move on to the folks at Dos Cabezas. Todd Bostock and Kelly Hearn Bostock, owners and winemakers, were lending their world-class pouring skills. First wine in their lineup was the 2011 "Red", basically a kitchen sink blend of Tempranillo, Primitivo, Counoise, Mourvedre, Sangiovese, Syrah and Grenache. In plebian terms, I can best describe this wine as a dirty, dusty, funky Pinot or a sexy Italian blend. Easy drinking, food friendly, "Red" could be an everyday house wine.
Next up is the 2011 Toscano, which comprises 70 percent Sangiovese and 30 percent Cabernet Franc. This is one of the prettiest red wines these folks make. Pinot Noir does not bode well in high-desert altitude, so if we have to fulfill a niche for that grape, I think Sangiovese fits the bill. It's light, fruity, and sexy with good tanin structure, and a good lengthy finish. I would drink this wine any time, all the time.
The 2010 El Norte is Todd and Kelly's version of a GSM. It's mainly Grenache with a little Counoise. For a GSM, it's definitely a lighter style, spicy and fruity on the nose, and well-made but in terms of distinction it doesn't stand out as much as the following wine, the 2009 Aguileon, which is one of my favorite wines they make. It is a blend of 95 percent Tempranillo, blended with 3 percent Petit Verdot, 1 percent Souzau, 1 percent Tinta Cao. Tempranillo does very well in Arizona soil. This libation has a great combination of earthiness and restrained fruitiness. It has great tannin structure, and the finish lasts forever.
One of the things I appreciate the most of these folks is their total hands on approach. They farm two vineyards, the Cimarron Vineyard in Willcox, and an estate Vineyard near the winery in Elgin. I was disappointed to not see the Dos Cabezas "Pink," which I think is one of the best roses in the state alongside Maynard's LeiLi, as well as the Meskeoli white blend. They do a fantastic job with distinctive white wine. I later found out they had run out, so I guess that's a good problem to have. Their El Campo blend made the San Francisco Chronicle's top 100 wines from all over the world. I mention this not only to give them props, but to also show that winemaking in Arizona is not just a novelty, but is to be taken seriously.