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on tour with maynard james keenan

We Have Arrived


Posted: Sep 28, 2007 3:25pm ET

I have that "I know what you're getting for X-Mas" Cheshire Cat grin on my face right now. However, this particular X-Mas won't arrive until we bottle and release our 100 percent Arizona wines from the 2007 vintage somewhere around the spring of 2009.

I can still remember how uncertain we were when we began this adventure six years ago. The area here looked like it could produce some decent wines. We had a gut feeling. It was one part educated guess, one part seat-of-our-pants blind faith. Sprinkle some intuition on that and off we went. Uncharted territory, as far as we knew. In the meantime, we made wines from California grapes, which have turned out quite well, if I may say so.

We were afraid to send any of the California wines out for review, the thought being: "What if the Arizona fruit doesn't stand up?" If we received a favorable rating, one could argue that although we were capable of making good wines from established vineyards, the grapes were from California, not Arizona.

Well, I've changed my mind. I'm going to send my current releases out for review. 'Cuz like I said, I now KNOW what you're getting for X-Mas in the spring of '09.

We just pressed and barreled down my Cabernet from the Merkin West vineyard in Arizona's Yavapai County, along with the Tempranillo and Syrah from our Stronghold Vineyards outside of Tucson, in Cochise County. It's all divine and had me on the brink of tears. So far, the juice all tastes far more like Old World wine than New World. The Cab has big tannins, but they're soft and don't rip your tongue apart. It's complex without being overwhelming. Fruity but not candy coated.

Look out, California. I'd love to use a Ricky Bobby/Talladega Nights analogy here, but clearly we here in Arizona are a far cry from Jean Girard. Gun-toting rednecks is what we are. We're more like Rowdy Roddy Piper in They Live: "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum." Probably wanna hold off inviting us to any fine-dining events for now.

Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  September 29, 2007 5:20am ET
Maynard do you think the old world style of the wine is pure Arizona terrior or did Arizona have a cooler summer (cooler than the triple digit norm)?
Andrew J Walter
Sacramento,CA —  September 29, 2007 7:39am ET
Look forward to trying the fruits of your labors...I am confident that N AZ wll produce wines of superior quality
Kevin Lewis
Baltimore,MD —  September 29, 2007 10:11am ET
Maynard- I am from the east coast and I have never been to Arizona. What are the soils made of besides sand? How do you battle the constant 100+ temps during the summmer? Just cuurious at is seems you never get any cool weather. Cheers!
Maynard James Keenan
page Springs, az —  September 29, 2007 8:50pm ET
Karl, It may very well be the cooler summer, but time will tell. We're in the high desert so we don't have nearly the same heat Phoenix has to endure. I think the largest contributing factor is the cooler evenings and the soil. We have temperature drops of between 20 to 30 degrees each night.
Jackie Harris
boston, ma —  October 1, 2007 4:08pm ET
I am excited and can't wait to try when the time comes. If your wine is anything like your music then I'd say "Brilliant"! Good Luck Maynard!
William Landreth
Irving, TX —  October 2, 2007 10:44am ET
Maynard, you are always welcome at our fine dining events here in Dallas. Gonna order your new releases to give them a try. Can't wait to see how the high desert fruit turns out.

BTW, your website is the best wine related out there and hope to see you on tour again.Bill
Ron Telleysh
Ariaona —  October 18, 2007 2:52pm ET
Kevin Lewis, Have you seen MT Humphry or Flagstaff, after you leave Phoenix your car steadly rises to over 7000 ft, and it ROCKYCooler summer it was very hot here for long extended periods.Come visit arizona its wonderfulI will get some of this wine to try

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