Out there, I’ve seen lots of lizards and snakes, a ton of birds, a bobcat, coyotes, and my first and only cougar tracks.
When I head to Arizona, I try to order some wines ahead of time from producers I’ve grown to love and respect. Alternatively, there are some shops that carry local producers, and I frequently check the local section to see if they have some of my favorites: Page Springs Cellars, Dos Cabezas, Rune, Callaghan. Nothing beats coming home after a long day of hiking and grilling up some meat, pairing it with a local Arizona wine.
Page Springs Cellars is a gem – great people in a beautiful place making singular wines. “Unique” is an overused word in wine circles (I’m guilty), but these wines are in a league of their own. Their kitchen sink blends mixes are always delicious and interesting, and their varietal single vineyard wines are clear interpretations of their place and grape. So, on my most recent Arizona trip, I had some of their wines shipped to my destination. I also picked up some bottles from another of my favorite producers, Dos Cabezas, based in Cochise County.
Arizona has a lot to offer in terms of wine and wilderness. You just have to hit the trails. Here are some photos and wine notes from my most recent trip this winter.
Pale yellow. Peachy keen on the nose with limes and lemons, honey, white tea, some verbena and oregano elements. I like the zippy elements but there’s a pleasant creaminess that keeps it fun. Peaches and kiwi with honey, raw almond, along with flinty, crunchy, salty elements. Fun, bright, complex. What a cool blend of Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Colombard, Roussanne, Seyval Blanc, Vermentino, Bourbolenc, Malvasia Bianca and Riesling – sheesh! Some Arizona magic happening here. (90 points)
2019 Page Springs Viognier Deep Sky Vineyard – Arizona, Cochise County, Willcox
A beautifully tropical nose of peaches, kiwi and pineapple, with notes of sea salt, cucumber slices and white flowers. The palate is deep but fresh, this is no overly chunky Viognier, not at all. Beautiful texture with peaches and lemon cake, along with flinty, mineral tones and tons of white and yellow flowers. I feel like if you left some of this in the glass, a hummingbird would steal it from you – and for good measure. I’d love to see how this ages. (91 points)
2020 Page Springs Cellars Grenache "Blanc de Noir" Colibri Vineyard - USA, Arizona, Cochise County
So pale copper. The nose is exquisite, with saline and crushed shells, along with grapefruit pith, lemons, white flowers – a taut and bright appeal. The palate is tight and brisk with orange peel, grapefruit and lemon mixed with chalky, clean laundry and saline vibes. Flinty, precise. If I were sipping this blindfolded, I’d be all over the map (Muscadet? Galician white?). Really cool stuff. (91 points)
2020 Page Springs Cellars – Mule’s Mistake – Arizona, Cochise County
This is always such a fun wine, a total kitchen sink blend of everything, and it always delivers fun and excitement. 2020 is a total blast with juicy cherries, spicy pepper, rose petals and red and black licorice candies on the nose. The palate is bright with light tannins and tangy, ripe fruit (raspberries and red cherries) along with roses, black pepper, cola and clay. So fun, accessible, but it’s own thing entirely. One of the most fun, cheap wines I buy from anywhere in the world, year-in, year-out. A blend of so many grapes, each year it’s dizzying. Each vintage has like eight, from Counoise, Pinot Noir, Carignan and Sangiovese to white Rhone grapes and others. This wine portrays a lot about why I love Arizona. (89 points)
2019 Page Springs Mourvedre Pick 3 Colibri Vineyard – Arizona, Cochise County
Loving the floral and spicy complexity on the nose, these rose petal, rhubarb, creosote and paprika, over raspberries and pomegranate fruit – so good! On the palate, this is zippy and fresh with dusty tannins and a crushable but complex appeal. Raspberries and sour cherry fruit is tangy and so lively. The notes of pepper, paprika, warm clay and rose petals. So vibrant but has a lot of depth, too, and I’d like to see it in three to four years. I’d also love to see this thrown into a blind tasting with some wine nerd friends and see them try to place it. Aged 11 months in 20% Arizona oak. (93 points)
2017 Dos Cabezas - Aguileon – Arizona, Cochise County
Love the nose here, so spicy and classic southern Arizona vibes, with creosote, clay, leather, black pepper, over the top of juicy raspberry and cherry fruit. Smooth but structured with vibrant acid and a juicy frame of raspberries and cherries. A lot of violets, mesquite, tilled soil, warm clay, some campfire and leather. These are flavors that just exude the Sonoran desert mountains, and I’m here for it. Tempranillo, Graciano, Petit Verdot, Garnacha, Petite Sirah and Monastrell. (91 points)