Fortunately for wine drinkers here in Phoenix, we are generally recognized as an “excellent market” by many wineries. This made for a lot of convenient shopping this year and 2012 promises to be even better! No kidding, our market is well on the radar for many top producers.
After a slow start, Phoenix area wine drinkers were given a special treat with a visit from dozens of Paso Robles winemakers. This was capped off with a grand tasting in Scottsdale just before Valentine’s Day.
The Paso vintners won’t return here in 2012, but instead, will be on the road to other cities for this go ‘round. Which Paso Wine impressed time after time? Midnight Cellar’s Aurora, and at about $20, it’s a very good value. However, low production may necessitate a special order from AJs if you would like to sample.
Big snows in Arizona’s high country beckoned a wine and photo tour to the Verde Valley early in the year. Photos were great, wine was even better. Keep track of the forecasts and see for yourself this winter. Sedona, Verde Valley Railroad, Jerome, and the wineries beckon. When a lot of white stuff covers the red rock, it’s truly a very easy way to enjoy some of Arizona’s best, all without having to worry about skidding around on the ice.
Enjoy Italian wines? For pairings with pasta and with lots of tomato, garlic, and cheese flavors, Italian wines are really hard to beat. There were many that appeared on the shelves this year, and at a lot of outlets. One of the best values was a 2005 Brunello di Montalcino from the Poggio Lontano winery. Trader’s Joes had it on sale for $16.99.
Not to be outdone, there were a lot of well-priced French wines to pick from this year. Good selections from the Chateauneuf Du Pape appellation have been available every month and continue to be strong right into this holiday season.
Lower cost Southern France alternatives from Gigondas will please the wallet as well as the palate and still remain in very good supply, especially at Total Wine. Costco’s Kirkland brand also offers interesting French blends.
Later in the year, we were totally impressed when visited by Chuck Wagner who runs the “Wagner Family of Wine” on a daily basis. Now, nearly all his kids are part of an operation taking in vineyards that source fruit from some of California’s most prominent growing regions. Right now, their wines remain easy to get and even easier to taste!
There were taste discoveries this year too. Check out the Owl Ridge Cabernet that is downright “Zinnish”, but priced right at under $15. And for another Cab under $20, Fry’s had a display of Franciscan 2007 Cabernet setup for sometime before people figured it out, good stuff.
As for Chardonnay, there is Sean Minor’s 2009 vintage, it would win just about any under $20 blind tasting. Of course, if you want a golden smooth white wine, it’s hard to beat Alban Viognier. A large quantity showed up at Total Wine for no particular reason. And of course, there is Freestone’s “Ovation” Chardonnay, wonderfully aging still.
The choice for New Years brunch? Try a Riesling from Germany’s Northern Mosel; have your favorite bottle shop pick out a Dr. Loosen Kabinett.
Hope you have enjoyed “wineing” in 2011. Cheers! Now here’s to a prosperous 2012 with an earthy floral spring bouquet, full mid-palate all summer, and a long finish right into fall!
Remember: Consume alcohol responsibly, and your 2012 will be all that it should be.
Happy New Year…