New Arizona Wine Kids on the Block Showcase Tasty Winesby Bonnie Lewis on Nov. 21, 2011, under Arizona wines, EVENTS, new wines, Verde Valley Region, Willcox Region, Wine people
The Arizona Wine Growers Association Festival at The Farm in Phoenix is a spectacular annual event, featuring the fruits of labor of winemakers from all over the state. While it’s delightful to catch up with my favorite winemakers, this year I focused on the newcomers to the lot. They prove that Arizona wines have come a long way and all of the wines produced in the state are worth a second taste by wine enthusiasts everywhere.
Burning Tree Cellars 2009 The Lotus
Burning Tree Cellars features the efforts of co-conspirators, Corey Turnbull and Mitch Levy. Corey says he’s been working to make this dream a reality for the past four years, under the tutelage of Eric Glomski in the Verde Valley region. Turnbull and Levy’s efforts have paid off, as their wines earned two medals in this year’s competition.
I took a liking to one of the award-winners, Burning Tree Cellars 2009 The Lotus. This 48% Petite Sirah, 26% Merlot, and 26% Syrah blend is rich and supple, yet soft. Aromas of damson plum, black cherry, and dark chocolate and subtle notes of charred earth, coffee, and sage rewards with a long chocolate-y finish. This one would be a contender to any hearty meal—perhaps that turkey and dressing?
The Lotus fruit was sourced from Ranchita Canyon Vineyard, San Miquel, CA (Petite Sirah)
Bonita Springs Vineyard, Sulphur Springs Valley, AZ (Merlot), and Colibri Vineyard, Portal, AZ (Syrah). It was open-top fermented, cap-punched three times daily, and oak-aged 11 months.
Burning Tree Cellars wines are available only at the Arizona Stronghold tasting room in downtown Cottonwood, AZ, but you can sign up for the winery’s email list and more information about how to get these wines delivered.
Sierra Bonita Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, the delicious, light, and well-rounded unfiltered Sierra Bonita Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with light fruits and oak. Cherries, strawberries, and hints of chocolate give this wine its complexity. This wine makes a great companion to soft, sweet cheeses, steaks, or with chocolate at dessert. I brought a bottle home with me to share—most likely with my evening square of dark chocolate.
Sierra Bonita Vineyards, named for its location adjacent to the historic Sierra Bonita ranch established in 1872, is located 22 miles northwest of Willcox, Arizona, at an elevation of 4,300 feet in a beautiful and rich agricultural valley.
In January 2011, the Smith’s released their first wines to the public—150 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and 120 cases of Syrah. The 11-acre vineyard was first planted in 1997, and they continue to add new vines. In 2009, they built their winery where they can process the grapes as soon as they are harvested—pesticide-free, returning all cuttings and skins to the vineyards, fostering a sustainable and eco-friendly vineyard. The wine is available exclusively from the vineyard property. While they have no tasting room, they will gladly arrange delivery upon request.
Sand-Reckoner Vineyards 2010 Rosé Cochise County
Located on the Willcox Bench at 4300 feet in elevation, Rob and Sarah Hammelman tend to the Sand-Reckoner Vineyards. The beautifully rugged high desert land provides potential for their vines—they must struggle, drawing from the challenging terroir: wind, dramatic temperature swings, limestone sub-soils, clear skies, and rumbling summer storms. 2010 is the first Sand-Reckoner Vineyards’ vintage.
I enjoyed sipping the Sand-Reckoner 2010 Rosé Cochise County, a blend of 65% Nebbiolo, 31% Sangiovese, and 4% Syrah. A bit heartier than some light-sipping summer Rosé, it featured a juicy acidity, full of strawberries and cream, and a hint of citrus in the finish. This would pair well with light foods and cheeses—perhaps served as an intro to your pre-meal appetizers at the Thanksgiving feast?
Thank you Arizona Wine Growers for your hard work and fortitude. Cheers!