In a recent blog post, I made my argument that Arizona has some incredible places to grow wine grapes and many producers are crafting high-quality wines with unique, distinctly regional signature. Check out that piece for more detail, but, to break down my thesis: Arizona boasts a solid combination of climate, high elevation sites, diverse soils, and plenty of savvy winegrowers and winemakers, which makes it an exciting place for the adventurous wine-lover.
During a recent trip to Arizona, I spent a few days hiking my ass off in the Grand Canyon. Since my legs had pretty much stopped working, wine-tasting on a sunny Arizona Saturday was the best option for sure. So I brought my parents to my favorite wine spot in Arizona: Page Springs Cellars. Located in Arizona’s Verde Valley appellation, this producer always impresses me with a wide range of fascinating, delicious, and expertly-crafted wines.
Eric Glomski is the man behind the bottles. A hard-charging, relentless Arizona wine guru, Glomski formed Page Springs Cellars and Arizona Stronghold Vineyard (another purveyor of awesome Arizona juice) with musician and Tool-frontman Maynard James Keenan in the mid-2000s. The two men parted ways, and now Glomski controls both Page Springs and Arizona Stronghold, while Keenan has gone on to focus on his Caduceus and Merkin Vineyard wines.
Page Springs sources grapes from several estate vineyards in Yavapai County, as well as vineyards in other growing regions like Cochise County, located in the southeastern part of the state. Page Springs releases a staggering amount of wines each year, from single-vineyard Roussanne and Vermentino, to quirky white blends, to varietal reds, and blends of varying Rhone and Italian grapes. These are small lot wines with regional signatures you can taste.
|The beautiful, cooling Oak Creek runs right past Page Springs Cellars and some estate vineyards. |
Some 20 miles upriver, this same creek winds through the epic red rock formations of Sedona, Arizona.
I first wrote about Arizona wine in 2012, when I visited Page Springs Cellars. I had been looking for some interesting Arizona vino, and I found plenty of it. My recent visit was a good way to delve back into these wines and remember just how good they are.
Below are my tasting notes on a handful of Page Springs’ wines.
|The gorgeous Page Springs Estate Vineyard in Yavapai County. Oak Creek lies just beyond those trees, bisecting this vineyard and the one on the hillside in the background.|
Lemons and chalk and white pepper on the nose. Bright acidity, crunchy citrus, white pepper, crushed chalk, very zesty, a bit lean, but begs for oysters. Made from 100% Counoise, but made as a white wine. A rare wine for Page Springs, but it works! (87 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars Vino del Barrio Blanca - Arizona
Light yellow color. Smells like peaches, green melon, nectarine, a tropical burst with some sea salt, lilies, new tennis ball stuff going on. Plump but fresh on the palate with bright acid and a pleasantly honeyed texture. Peaches, green melon rind, wax candles, a pungent white flower note, some sea salt, honeyed green tea. Complex but so gluggable, a great combination of richness and freshness. 47% French Colombard, 23% Grenache Blanc, 17% Malvasia, 11% Roussanne, 2% Vermentino. A great example of the Arizona blending and experimental ethos, with delicious results. (88 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars Vermentino Dos Padres Vineyard - Arizona, Yavapai County
Aromas of chalk, lilies, dandelion, green apples and lemons. Interesting contrast between a creamy/waxy texture and refreshing acidity. Peaches, juicy apricot, salted almond and candied lemon peel notes. Very pretty, very delicious. (88 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars Roussanne Dos Padres Vineyards - Arizona, Yavapai County
Aromas of yellow flowers, bruised yellow apple and honey. Plump texture but this is full of refreshing acidity. Juicy apricot, nuts, honey, peach nectar – lots going on here, but it keeps me salivating and intrigued. Interested to see how this ages over the next few years. (88 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars Marsanne Dragoon Mountain - Arizona, Cochise County
Aromas of honey, apricot, peach nectar, mango slices. Plump and smooth, less acidity than the Roussanne, but still tasty. Bruised apple, cinnamon and honeycomb. Interesting example of this grape and place. 100% Marsanne. (87 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars La Serrana - Arizona
On the nose, almond, lemon curd, dandelion, peach slices. Juicy, waxy texture but fresh acidity. Nectarine, glazed pear, bruised apple. A bit fat, and lower on the acidity than a lot of the wines I like from this producer, but it’s still well done and very tasty. A blend of 61% Roussanne, 25% Viognier, 14% Marsanne. (86 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars El Serrano - Arizona
A reliably exciting Arizona red blend, which changes year to year, based on Rhone varieties but including a bit of this and that. This smells like pepper, leather, juicy dark cherry fruit. A bit darker fruited, with smokier, resin tones, but maintains structure and some freshness. I could see this being a great barbecue wine. (87 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars Mule’s Mistake - Arizona, Cochise County
What a fun and delicious red blend. Light strawberry color with aromas of strawberries, raspberries, pepper, spice rub, rhubarb and leather. Medium-bodied with zesty acidity and smooth, silky tannins. Bright red fruit and mixes with tobacco, pepper, cherry cordial, red licorice – a cool combo of fresh flavors. Drinks like a Beaujolais-Villages, has spice like a Rhone blend, but it is pure juicy Arizona fruit. So good for the money. A kitchen sink blend of Sangiovese, Grenache, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Syrah, Couoise, Malvasia, Merlot and Mourvedre. (87 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars Grenache - Arizona, Cochise County
Light rose color. Smells like fresh strawberries and tobacco. Tangy and brisk on the palate with light tannins and a lip-smacking appeal. Wild strawberries and red apple peel mixes with clay soil and leather. A crisp and vibrant Grenache that includes 11% Barbera. (86 points)
2013 Page Springs Cellars Grenache Neutral Oak Page Springs Estate Vineyard - Arizona, Yavapai County
Medium ruby color. Smells like strawberries, pomegranate and red apple peel along with sagebrush, dusty earth and warm mulling spices. Fresh and crisp with medium/light tannins and a pure setting of crunchy red fruit (strawberry, cranberry, pomegranate). Notes of warm clay, tobacco, dusty earth, pot smoke, rose petal and rocky minerals add all sorts of complexity. Wow, this is phenomenal stuff. (91 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars Malbec Fort Bowie Vineyard - Arizona, Cochise County
Unlike any Malbec I’ve tasted, but I dig it. Bright and red-fruited on the nose (candied strawberry, red apple) and some desert herbs. Tangy and refreshing on the palate’s medium-bodied frame. Juicy red plums and strawberries with notes of chestnut and herbs. Fun stuff. (87 points)
2014 Page Springs Cellars MSGc - Arizona, Cochise County
Love this wine. Smells like black and cayenne pepper, bay leaf and oregano topped on juicy cherries and plums. Structured with moderate-grip tannin, freshened with acidity, enticing with its plum cherry and bright strawberry fruit. SO much pepper, sage, earth, and other complex elements to coax out with air. Well-built but so vibrant. 35% Mourvedre, 33% Syrah, 27% Grenache, 5% Counoise. (90 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars Syrah Deep Sky Vineyard - Arizona, Cochise County
Dark purple color. One of the darker, saucier wines I’ve tasted from Page Springs, this shows blackberry, peppercorns and roasted earth scents. Juicy but dark plum and blackberry fruit, moderate tannins and acidity line up nicely. Lots of pepper, loam, soy, warm clay, charcoal. Age-worthy, but delicious now. 100% Syrah. (90 points)
2015 Page Springs Cellars Vino de la Familia - Arizona, Cochise County
Dark purple color. Smells like dark plums, blackberries, black olives and pepper. Dark and saucy but smooth, not dense, with medium/low acidity (a rarity in Page Springs wines). Plummy and blackberry-laden with notes of roasted peanuts, candied pecans, dark earth, clay and graphite. Delicious. A blend of Petite Sirah with 33% Syrah and 3% Roussanne. (87 points)