The wines of Arizona and Arizona Wine Country are worth exploring. There are 3 primary growing areas in the state with diverse characteristics.
Our able guide is Jessica Dupuy, Writer, Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine & Spirits. Her latest book, The Wines of Southwest USA, is part of the Classic Wine Library. It covers the emerging wine regions in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. Joining her is Arizona winemaking pioneer, Kent Callaghan, Founder & Proprietor of Callaghan Vineyards.
“Based in Austin, Texas, Jessica Dupuy is a wine, spirits, food, and travel writer, as well as a speaker and consultant. She is also a regular contributor for Texas Monthly magazine and Forbes.com. She’s a Certified Sommelier, a Certified Specialist of Wine and Spirits, and a Level 4 Diploma candidate for the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust.”
“Founder and Owner Kent Callaghan (Callaghan Vineyards) and his parents (Harold and Karen) planted their Buena Suerte Vineyard in May/June of 1990. Their planting happened to coincide with a vicious heat wave, one consequence of which was that Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix was shut down for a few days. Nobody had tested passenger jets at temperatures over 120F. But it was only 105F in Elgin…Needless to say; they lost a few (thousand) vines. This experience set the stage for what would become the Callaghan M.O. – replanting – always with an eye toward grape varieties and rootstocks better suited to their arid, windy, sun-bleached region.”
“Over many years, they have tossed out their original Bordeaux mindset and moved to one rooted in the Mediterranean. Spanish varieties, in particular, seem best suited to their site – Graciano, Mourvèdre, Grenache. They have found that one Bordeaux variety, Petit Verdot, provides a distinctive spicy/peppery/meaty blending component. As for white wine, they have only one estate at the moment – Lisa’s – a blend of Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Malvasia Bianca, Clairette and Petit Manseng. The object is to produce an uncommonly nuanced white wine with great freshness and flavor “chew”. With all of their wines, the primary concerns are depth of flavor and complexity. Textural considerations are secondary and best addressed by appropriate cellaring and/or food pairing. Most of their time is spent working in the vineyard.”
Kent discusses the 2017 Callaghan Vineyard’s Claire’s which was sampled by the “SoCal Restaurant Show” in a recent virtual wine tasting, “Arizona Wines: From Novice to Knowledgeable in Under an Hour.” Five distinctive Arizona wines were tasted with four Arizona winemakers providing commentary including Kent Callaghan. Claire’s is 65 per cent Mourvedre estate, 25 per cent Graciano and 10 per cent Petit Verdot.
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