Arizona Wines Part 1

We just returned from a vacation in Scottsdale, AZ. It may seem strange to go to Arizona in the summer but we like hot weather. This is also the “monsoon season” there so it is cooler with a good chance of rain and wind. Our flight to Phoenix was uneventful as usual. We arrived about lunch time, which is our normal plan. We like begin our Scottsdale trips with margaritas somewhere. Actually we tend to focus more on margaritas when we are in the southwest but we decided this year we would focus more on wine, especially learning about wine from Arizona.

On our last trip to Scottsdale, we discovered a new restaurant The Mission on Brown Avenue in Old Town Scottsdale. We always stay at the Hilton Garden Inn across the street from Old Town Scottsdale because it is inexpensive in the summer and there are so many shops and restaurants nearby. We headed to The Mission after checking into our hotel and putting on shorts. The temperature was about 100, and fairly humid. August is after all the monsoon season in the desert.

To our great surprise and pleasure, Kevin, a bartender we met at The Mission last year was still working there this year. He makes the best margaritas! Just the right amount of all the ingredients. We ordered table side prepared guacamole to accompany our margaritas. What a great combination. We spent the afternoon eating, drinking and visiting with Kevin. It was a really enjoyable afternoon. After the relaxing afternoon at The Mission we did a little window shopping in Old Town and called it a night since we planned to get up early the next morning to go hiking. We were just too full of guacamole to do dinner.

One of our favorite things to do in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area is to go hiking. There are many City parks in town. We generally rise at 5 am and head for the trail by 5:30 am to beat the heat (and most of the other hikers). The desert is particularly beautiful early in the morning. We especially like Phoenix Mountains Park and Recreation Area. We have hiked the strenuous Piestewa Peak (Squaw Peak) Summit trail on several occasions. There usually are a lot of people on the summit trail, sometimes seems a little crowded. A much less traveled and very beautiful trail is the Piestewa Peak Perimeter Trail (trail 302). We always see lots of wildlife, cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits, squirrels, lizards, birds and occasionally snakes. Our favorite birds are what we call starter birds, because their call sounds like an engine starting. They’re actually Cactus Wrens but make the most interesting sound.

After our morning hike and clean-up, we headed off to The Mission for lunch, margaritas, tacos and to plan our wine tasting—yes, you’re right this is supposed to be a WINE blog!

We had seen a winery in town on previous trips so we went to see if they were still around. It is the Su Vino winery located on East Main street and they feature wines made in Arizona. However, they get the must and/or juice from other areas of the world so it really did not fit our criteria for “Arizona wine”. We decided to stay and taste their wines anyway. We tasted five wines, two whites and three reds. When I asked the vintages I was just told “this year” so I am assuming they are all 2009. Also, all of the oak is from planks and the wine is made in all stainless steel.

2009 Chardonnay-unoaked, juice sourced from California. Light yellow color, crisp mineral and citrus nose, lots of acid, very crisp. Overall very pleasant but nothing outstanding. Would make a nice wine to drink in the backyard at $12.50 a bottle, though.

2009 Reisling-juice sourced from Washington state. Light yellow color, typical Reisling nose (diesel), very obvious melon nose, subtle melon flavors, good acid clean finish.

2009 Cabernet/Merlot blend 50/50, dark ruby color, berries and green pepper on the nose, overwhelming vanilla flavors along with sweet, dark very ripe fruit flavors, tannins were light and well integrated. Hot finish though only 12.5% alc. Juice from California.

2009 Malbec, the must was imported from Argentina. Very dark ruby color, vanilla nose, fruit showed it to be a very young wine. Good acid, smooth tannins but over oaked.

2009 Bella Rosa, the must was imported from Italy. It is a Corvina and Rondinella blend. We had never heard of these varietals so we looked them up later. Dark ruby color, vanilla nose, vanilla flavors with sweet dark fruit. Flavors of slight spiciness, tart fruit, moderate tannins, good acid and hot finish.

A little disappointed they weren’t true Arizona wines, we asked where we might find some made in Arizona. They recommended FnB restaurant on Stetson Drive which is in walking distance to the north. What a find that was! They serve only Arizona wines and have fantastic food, too! That will be part two of this trip and is well worth reading. We will post part two in a day or so.

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