I had dinner the other night at one of my favorite places on earth, the courtyard of Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. The ambiance is amazing when you're sitting outside with the chateau facade in the background and surrounded by the lush green of the garden. It makes me feel like I am in the Place des Vosges in Paris, or in St. Tropez in the large garden of a friend’s house.
But an added attraction last Thursday was running into Maynard James Keenan, who was sitting a few tables over with some of his newest releases from Arizona. I have been enjoying his blog almost as much as his rockin' music.
Maynard in person comes across as an unassuming, friendly man with a big heart for winemaking. We discussed his dreams of making Arizona a serious wine region. He obviously has a love for balanced, refined wines in an Old-World style. It is certainly a contrast to his high-energy music. I thought he would be into mega fruit-forward blockbusters. But he’s into the farthest thing from that.
He explained that he loved the balanced reds of Spain and Italy. He still remembers drinking a great bottle of 1990 Soldera Brunello di Montalcino Case Basse Riserva. (Me too. I only wish the newer vintages weren’t so high in volatile acidity!) Anyway, Maynard likes elegant and refined wines.
I was most impressed with his new white, which comes from his vineyards at Arizona Stronghold, a winery he owns with his winemaker Eric Glomski. It’s called Tazi. The 2007 reminded me of a subtle, sleek and minerally white from Friuli. It's a blend of mostly Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling with a little Chardonnay and Malvasia Bianca. It's very aromatic with floral, apple and honey character that followed through to a medium body, with bright acidity and a medium finish. I wrote down “very pretty” in my notebook. 88 points, non-blind, of course.
His reds were also very pleasant. I tasted two 2006s from his Caduceus winery—the Anubis (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sangiovese) and La Naga (Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon). Both are made with bought fruit from Paso Robles in California. They were very good quality and showed a light touch in the winemaking, whereby finesse and length were the emphasis instead of power and alcohol.
Maynard said that the reds were the type of reds he hopes to make from his vineyards in Arizona when they come into production. He says that the area where his vineyards are, near his home, remind him of Sicily, with hot days and cool nights. The rocky, loamy soil also has volcanic deposits, just like the great island. Check out his cool website: www.caduceus.org
Anyway, I wish him the best of luck. He’s got passion for what he’s doing, whether making music or making wine.
Jimmy Hwang — Atlanta , GA — April 29, 2008 2:30pm ET
Brad Kanipe — Atlanta — April 29, 2008 2:32pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — April 29, 2008 2:35pm ET
Neil Gustafson — Chicago, IL — April 30, 2008 8:21am ET
James Suckling — — April 30, 2008 8:57am ET
Maynard James Keenan — page Springs, az — April 30, 2008 7:57pm ET
Neil Gustafson — Chicago, IL — May 1, 2008 6:52pm ET
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