Saturday, March 01, 2008

Arizona Vinyards: Wine Tasting at its Funnest

Our dear friend Liz had a birthday recently, so we drove to Sonoita for a day of wine tasting and celebration. It was a rainy, cold weekend but that only made the experience all the cozier.

We went to Sonoita Vinyards first where we learned about the wine history of the region. In the days of Father Kino Jesuit monks grew communion grapes, but wine didn't become an industry in the area until the 1970s when a soil scientist from the University of Arizona realized that the soil in the area was much like that of Burgundy, France and proposed experimenting with different grape cultivation.

The tasting at Sonoita Vinyards was pretty serious. We got cheese and chocolate to compliment certain wines. We got a pamphlet describing all the wines we were tasting, which we numbered and wrote notes on quite scientifically. At that point we were sober wine appreciators.

Moving on to our next destination, The Village of Elgin Winery, we encountered a completely different ambiance. Wine was served in a dark room filled with clutter, including samurai masks and other Asian artifacts (?) Turns out the building was erected in 1895 as a Bordello. The gentleman who poured our wines was wearing a baby blue hoodie and did not provide much info about the wines beyond what was on a photocopied list. It was much more informal, to say the least. He poured, we drank, and wrote notes on the photocopy like, "Sweet!; Syrupy; Candy wine; Dessert wine; This wine will put you in a sugar coma" etc. But Liz loves sweet wine so it was perfect. The only wines I wouldn't recommend were the Tombstone Gunslinger and the Blanc de Merlot that very distinctly smelled like funky body odor to me!

We then went to Keif Joshua Vinyards where we tasted 5 wines, one of them a really tasty Merlot (2003). Keif Joshua Manning poured them for us himself unceremoniously while wearing a backward baseball cap. There were a number of excellent dips and wine crackers for tasting and purchase, also.

Now giggling incessantly, we headed over to Callaghan Vineyards where we enjoyed some great grape mixes using Spanish varieties in particular. Despite our lack of seriousness, this was probably one of the more serious vineyards we visited. The Padres 2004 was my favorite. Smoother than a straight Tempranillo, this wine also includes a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Our last tasting involved petting lazy dogs at Rancho Rossa. I can't remember anything about the wines, but I remember the people were really nice and there were paintings of Jerry Garcia on the walls.

To end our day, we had a late lunch at the western themed Steak Out Rest and Saloon. It was rustic and cozy. The food was good and there was even live music. Contented, we enjoyed the views of the misty Arizona countryside all the way home.

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