A short Sunday jaunt to the Sonoita/Elgin wine region in Southeast Arizona discovered three palate-pleasers. Our first stop was the Kief Joshua Winery, which is hard to miss on winery row in Elgin. The impressive castle-like structure welcomes tasters to a wonderful wine-tasting experience. Here, we enjoyed a glass of the recently released 2009 Kief Joshua Zinfandel with our made-to-order omelets; it was the perfect choice. Produced with grapes from John McLoughlin’s Vineyards in Willcox, AZ, this Zin has a slightly earthy nose of cherries, green olives, and cassis. The taste is herbal with black plums and raspberries. This could be the perfect holiday feast wine with grilled lamb.
Next stop was just down the road at Canelo Hills Vineyard that revealed its 2008 Canelo Hills Sunrise, the “perfect house wine.” This blend of Nebbiola and Syrah (in roughly equal proportions) is made with grapes from AZ Stronghold Vineyards and Sweet Sunrise Vineyards. It tastes of pomegranate and cranberry. The finish is crisp, clear, and acidic, thanks to its 12.9% alcohol content. This is a great lighter red wine to be enjoyed in the coming warmer months, but it’s a great everyday wine year-round.
Tucked back off Elgin Road a ways, Rancho Rossa Vineyards is unpretentious. The tasting room/winery is surrounded by nearly 24 acres of orderly grape vines, ready for the growing season ahead. Owner Sarah Hamilton cheerily greets us and pours a few selections. My favorite was the 2006 Rancho Rossa CSM, a blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot grapes, all grown on the Rancho Rossa estate.
Hamilton explains that this wine has been aged in American and French Oak for 18 months, and may have been a “mistake” fashioned by winemaker husband Chris Hamilton, who was talking during its creation. But it’s no mistake that this is a totally enjoyable wine. It is fruit-forward as expected, and complex as blends should be; the finish is slightly dry and refreshing. Rancho Rossa donates ten cents to the American Cancer Society for every bottle of wine sold.
These wines and many of those reviewed in a previous Pour Me Some Grapes blog will be among the 40-some Arizona wines being poured at the Sunday, April 3, 2011 Arizona Wine Tasting Festival at CataVinos Wine Shoppe & Tasting Room in Tucson (call (520)323-3063 for details). The 2:00pm-5:00pm event will feature nine Arizona wineries from around the state. If you haven’t visited the three wine regions in Arizona (Verde Valley to the North, Sonoita/Elgin to the Southeast, and Willcox to the East), or if it’s been a while since the last time, here’s your chance to sample just a few amazing wines waiting to be discovered by your palate.