Scott and Joan Dahmner founded Aridus (a derivation of the Latin word for dry or arid) in 2012 in Wilcox, Arizona. Aridus sources grapes from about 40 acres of estate vineyards above Willcox, Arizona (which sits at an impressive 5,200 feet in elevation). They also crush grapes from other vineyards in Arizona, and some grapes from New Mexico and California.
Built in a re-purposed apple warehouse, the Aridus winery produces a dizzying array of wines, everything form a New Mexico Pet-Nat Malvasia Bianca to Cochise County, Arizona Syrah and Malbec.
2017 marked the fifth vintage for this winery, and the first for their estate vineyard white wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Malvasia Bianca). This ambitious effort represents, for me, the evolving face of Arizona wine, which I find to be a dynamic wine scene full of exciting producers and diverse, delicious wines.
Why Arizona? “Hot days, cool nights, minerality in the soil,” Proprietor Scott Dahmer explains. “I believe Arizona is the next up and coming grape growing region which will produce unique, world-class delicious wines.” (For more details on my recent Arizona wine country jaunts, and why I tend to agree with Scott’s strong statement, check out this article I wrote earlier this year.)
I received these wines as trade samples and tasted them sighted.
2016 ARIDUS Malvasia Bianca - New Mexico, Mimbres Valley
Light yellow color. Wow, these aromatics pop! Limes, apricot, white peach, guava, all sorts of flowers and candied fruits. I like the plump texture on the palate, but the bright acidity is really refreshing – apricots, white peach, yellow raisins, matched with lots of white and yellow fruit blossoms. An impressive interpretation of this grape from a vineyard in New Mexico. Eight months in stainless steel, 13.7% alcohol. (88 points)
2016 ARIDUS Rosé - Arizona, Cochise County
Light strawberry color. Aromas of peaches, roses, cut flowers, lively and fresh. Juicy and creamy texture on the palate, plump abut dry, bright acidity. Flavors of ripe apples, white peaches, strawberries, laced with spiced apple, clove and honeyed tea. Rich but zesty, a really interesting buttery characteristic to this rose, a richer style but delicious and quite balanced. A blend of Mourvedre and Grenache. (87 points)
2015 ARIDUS Malbec - Arizona, Cochise County
Light purple color. Aromas of spiced cranberry sauce, tart plums, violets, sweet cola and molasses. Juicy texture, light tannins, medium acidity, but this is a jammy, rich Malbec with elements of espresso grounds, vanilla bean, fruitcake, some earthy charcoal elements. Tasty stuff. Aged 19 months in a mix of new French and new/used American oak. (87 points)
2014 ARIDUS Petite Sirah - Arizona, Cochise County
Dark purple color. Aromas of tart black currant, juicy black cherries, and deep earthy notes (charcoal, scorched earth, loam, black pepper). The palate bold and grippy as expected, but the chocking thing about this wine to me is the freshness, really impressive. The fruit is dark and concentrated but also tangy, and mixed well with flavors of mesquite, sweet cocoa, black pepper and mocha, finishes with notes of stony minerals. Wow, I am really surprised by how good this wine is. Hats off. 14.2 % alcohol, all Petite Sirah, aged 16 months in 40% new French oak. (90 points)
This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.