My blog today is a continuation of last week's entry on the growth of diversity in today's wine world and finding good wine in unlikely places, more specifically, in Arizona. I recently tasted through some eye-opening new releases from Arizona, and as promised, here are some more profiles of promising Arizona wineries.
Page Spring Cellar and Arizona Stronghold
Page Spring Cellar is owned and run by Eric Glomski, who worked at California’s Limerick Lane and David Bruce wineries before setting up shop in Arizona. Glomski intends to focus primarily on Rhône varietals such as Syrah and Mourvèdre, and as his own vineyards mature, he intends to move away from using California fruit in his wines.
In addition to Page Springs Cellar, Glomski also helps out Wine Spectator guest blogger Maynard James Keenan with Keenan’s Caduceus label. The two have also partnered up to form Arizona Stronghold, a label that sources its fruit from the former Dos Cabezas vineyards, which they bought when that winery moved from the Willcox area to Soñoita.
Glomski and Keenan will have 80 acres of vineyards combined by next year, located in both the northern and southern wine regions of the state (about 250 miles apart). With soils ranging from limestone and gravel to white volcanic ash, and weather moderated by the vineyards’ altitudes (between 3,800 and 4,500 feet), Glomski and Keenan are uncovering some interesting terroirs in an unlikely place.
The reds from Page Springs and Arizona Stronghold show gutsy textures and flavors similar to those of the Southern Rhône, with black fruits and notes of tar and toast. The white wines are even more unique in profile, with broad, almost oily textures, but no lack of delineation to their flavors, offering melon, brioche, heather and more.
Production at Page Springs is currently maxed out at around 5,000 cases a year, while the joint venture Arizona Stronghold label is just getting started. Glomski plans to grow Arizona Stronghold well past its current 5,000-case level. (Keenan’s own Caduceus label is even smaller, at just 1,500 cases of annual production, and the debut Arizona wines have not yet been officially released.)
“The other two are direct-to-consumer labels,” said Glomski, referring to the two boutique labels. “But Arizona Stronghold is the one that I want to use to put Arizona on the map with.”
Based on the early returns, Glomski may be ahead of schedule in getting Arizona on the wine map. The Arizona Stronghold Nachise Cochise County 2007 is an impressive Châteauneuf-du-Pape-like wine, made from a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Petite Sirah that shows ripe cassis and blackberry fruit and plenty of smoky notes with additional spice, licorice and mineral hints. At just $20 it provides lots of bang for the buck. The Arizona Stronghold Tazi Cochise County White 2007, made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Malvasia Bianca, is focused, with good medium-weight tangerine, lemon verbena and white peach notes followed by a slightly waxy but lengthy finish
Among the recent Page Springs releases, the Mourvèdre Cochise County Arizona Stronghold Vineyard 2007 offers textbook varietal character. It’s nicely focused, with cassis, bacon and incense aromas and flavors, carried by sinewy but integrated structure. There's nice length and it should unwind a bit with modest cellaring. The Syrah Cochise County Norte Block Arizona Stronghold Vineyard 2007 has an overt layer of sweet spice and dark toast, along with raisin bread, blackberry and fruitcake flavors. There's a hint of pastis on the grippy finish, and though it’s not shy at all in style, it’s still really tasty.
For whites, the Viognier Arizona La Serrana 2007 is plump and forward, with warm buttery almond, melon and peach flavors that are round and soft, but persistent on the finish. In contrast, the Malvasia Bianca Arizona Vino de la Familia Blanca 2007 is spicy, with Muscat like notes of orange zest and tangerine, backed by a hint of nectarine pit on the slightly waxy finish. It’s a fun change of pace.
Because Glomski has a broad portfolio of vineyard-designated releases, the productions of the individual Page Springs Cellar wines are in the 50- to 175-case range, and they carry $20 to $40 price tags, a bit higher than the Arizona Stronghold wines, which will be easier for consumers to source thanks to their 700- to 1,000-case production levels.