I’d like to welcome on board two new talented sales consultants to the My Wine Helper team: Dannetta Sevek and Katie Fulton. These two will be helping me to expand the Phoenix and Scottsdale markets for our self distributing Arizona winery clients. That also means lots of new exciting venues for wine tasting events and dinners. Make sure your joining our Meetup wine groups and join us at an event soon.
Well the new year has started off good for wine lovers. I’m pleased to announce that I will begin teaching wine classes on Thursday nights at Classic Cooking Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona. The classes will consist of a wine appreciation 101 class the first Thursday of each month, followed by Regional studies and Varietal Comparison classes. These events are laid back with no pretense, but you will learn a whole bunch and get five 2oz wine samples during each class. To RSVP or see what classes are coming up simply go to the Classic Cooking Academy website calendar at ccacademy.edu or you can call at 480 502-0177. I also will be conducting 5 course wine dinners throughout the year that are reasonably priced. Chef Pascal Dionot is an accomplished Chef and I can’t wait for you to try his cuisine perfectly paired with wine of course! I look forward to seeing you at an event soon.
As luck would have it My Wine Helper gets the opportunity to assist two great wineries in Sonoita: Sonoita Vineyards and Winery and Callaghan Vineyards. I’ve known Kent Callaghan for over a decade and have always admired his wines so when I got a text that he was interested in having me help him I was thrilled. I must thank my buddies from Flying Leap for the hookup and words of praise that led to working for Kent. The focus for Callaghan wines will be restaurant allocations primarily with a small footprint in retail. With the tough weather conditions that Sonoita has had over the last 4 years, it has reduced production considerably. The winery will limit its focus with placements but will have more featured events at some great restaurant accounts throughout the year.
Sonoita Vineyards is the winery that started it all in the Sonoita region. Gordon Dutt owner of Sonoita Vineyards had done work at the U of A, in Tucson, and had identified Sonoita as a good area for grape growing. Today the winery produces a dozen wines with Colombard being a go to grape for their whites. They also produce dry full-bodied Sangiovese, Syrah and a popular red blend called MeCaSah. They are one of only a handful of wineries that produces sparkling wines as well. They have a Peach Sparkler and a drier Brut style. The base grapes for these two sparkling wines are also Arizona Colombard.
There we be plenty of opportunities this summer to enjoy these new wine additions. Make sure to join our Meetup Wine Tasting Group and we will see you at our next event.
My Wine Helper has been hired by Flying Leap Vineyards to assist them in sales including e-commerce sales and self distribution. This winery is the new kid on the block with the release of their first two wines, the 2011 Grenache and 2011 Graciano. These two wines were crafted by Arizona’s own Kent Callaghan of Callaghan Vineyards down in Sonoita. Mark Beres, Marc Moeller and Thom Kitch, are the brains to the operation. These gentleman have been friends since college, and they grew up in Washington State, and they are also all retired Air Force pilots. Getting to know them has been great. They are passionate about the farming end of the business and smart enough to work with people like Kent Callaghan and myself. They are currently establishing one of the largest commercial vineyards in Willcox in the heart of the Willcox bench. They have recently opened a tasting room in downtown Willcox close to Railroad Park. They also just recently purchased Canelo Hills Winery and Vineyards in Sonoita, where their Flying Leap Vineyards wines will be available for purchase. MWH is very excited to be representing these wines and look forward to setting up events so you can try these wines for yourselves.
2011 Grenache(CA) This wine has 15% Graciano in the blend. The wine has a garnet with purple hue to it’s color, medium to full bodied wine with some white pepper spice on a medium length finish. Great sweet strawberry and raspberry fruit nose, great food Wine. Excellent with grilled Lamb or pork. 13.5% Alc.
2011 Graciano(CA) This wine is 100% Graciano. This Spanish varietal shows huge potential in Arizona. Dark purple in color this wine is fruit forward and lightly oaked. It is full bodied, and has excellent notes of black cherry, current and spice. It has a long smooth finish and will pair well with full favored foods especially grilled meats and robust cheeses. 14.5% Alc.
Since I started MyWineHelper, it has become quite apparent that a formal workforce development program would benefit local wine and food producers and create some great new career opportunities for Arizona residents.
To deliver that desired outcome, I have formed an alliance with the Artisan Food Guild, a local food advocacy group, to develop a formal training program for candidates interested in a professional career opportunity marketing Arizona made food and beverages.
The training will include classroom style learning, field training and the economics of scientific market analysis. Once prepared, you will be eligible to apply for several positions available throughout the state. This is a great opportunity to develop a formal career development program that results in helping Arizona food and beverage makers market their dreams.
If you are interested in being considered for this opportunity, please forward your resume and cover letter to Roy Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org. All applicants must provide references along with their other documents. We will contact you once we have reviewed your information.
Please do not contact me directly for follow-up as I am out in the field most days taking care of clients. And, please be patient with the review process. This is a new program and we expect to have many people interested in this opportunity. It will take time to properly review your qualifications and check your references. So, please reread this notice and follow our instructions accordingly. We will follow-up with you as soon as we are able.
P.S. This is NOT a job offer, but an opportunity to develop a professional sales and marketing career representing Arizona made products. Like other professional careers (real estate, insurance, etc) your success will be determined by your commitment to education and your mastery of the product we represent. We look forward to helping Arizona grow together.
It is with great pleasure that I announce Trione Winery has arrived in Arizona. My wine meetup tasting panel, Blue Tooth Wine Society, Thought these were all solid wines. I will be setting up some events for Trione winery so please join us to taste them and decide for yourself. You can read our panels review of these wines in Wine Reviews.
My wife Linda and I recently had a great visit to Oregon wine country. Of course this trip was purely for research purposes. When your in the wine business and in wine country, it is never strictly a vacation. On this visit we went to Hood River which is out towards the Columbia Gorge area. It is no wonder this is the #1 destination spot in Oregon, just beautiful scenery. It is only an hour East from the Portland Airport. Our first winery that we came to was Marchesi Vineyards. Marchesi specialize in Italian varietals which grow well in this area because it is warmer. If you go across the river you are in Washington State. For only $5 you get a tasting of 6 wines and this lovely bread, charcuterie, and cheese plate. Our favorite wines there were the Barbera and the one we bought which was the Nebbiolo/Barbera blend. There were no industry discounts or free tastings at this winery, which was the only exception on our research trip. The wine was $35 a bottle. Our next winery was Cathedral Ridge. The wines here were just OK. Their Merlot was my favorite but we only had room for 12 bottles to bring back with us, so we had to be selective and opted to not buy there. We paid our $5 tasting fee and went on our way to the next winery which was Pheasant Valley. We arrived right before closing but the tasting room manager was very friendly and the owner Scott stopped by to pick up some wine to drink that night. One of his family members was the Mayor of Coolidge, Arizona how cool is that. Their wines were also very good and their Tempranillo was my favorite. For dinner that night we drove into downtown Hood River and ate at Celilo Restaurant. The food there is masterfully prepared. This was a great end to our first day in Oregon. We now were off to Newberg where we based our operations
into Willamette Valley wine country, and our hunt for great Pinot Noir. We had three busy days working our way through some of the original Oregon wine producers and some new wineries as well. Our first stop on day 1 in Willamette Valley was Sokol Blosser. Sokol Blosser gets its name from a combination of the owners last names. They no longer are an active part of the business but the next generation has stepped up to take over the operations. I did not fully appreciate Sokol Blosser wines until I got to sample through their entire lineup including the limited production wines that you never see in Arizona. Brook was our tasting room staff member that helped us and even though she was new to Sokol Blosser, she did a great job helping us with our tasting. We finally selected the ’09 Dundee Hills Big Tree Pinot Noir. This is considered a masculine wine in Pinot Noir terms. We enjoyed many of their wines but this one we both agreed was our favorite. We received a complimentary tasting and a discount on our wine. Next we went to Eryie Vineyard, founded in 1965 by David & Diana Lett and one of the original Pinot Noir producers in Oregon. David is no longer with us but his son Jason has taken over winemaking. These wines are produced in a traditional Burgundian fashion and Jason has been reverting production away from a modern interpretation and back to the style his father had produced. These wines use very little new oak if any, which really lets the varietals and terroir tell their unique story. Even though I really enjoyed the ’09 Reserve Estate Pinot Noir I decided on the ’09 Estate Pinot Noir because the quality was great and half the price of the Reserve. On the recommendation of the Eyrie tasting room manager we went next to Westrey Winery which is a no frills tasting room right in the middle of the winery and was just a short walk from Eyrie. They wines come from very old ,deep rooted vineyards and the one we enjoyed the most was the ’09 Pinot Noir from the Oracle Vineyard. Next we went to Panther Creek Winery in McMinnville. Panther Creek is located in the old power station and the wine we felt was worthy of purchase was the 2008 Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. This wine came from what is considered one of the best vintages ever 2008 but interestingly enough I did not prefer this vintage because even though it is a very fruit forward vintage it is not drinking great at the moment. These ’08 Pinot Noir will need at least another 5 years to develop in bottle. Most have already been bought up, but don’t overlook ’07 and ’09 which are drinking very nice right now. Next on to Daedalus Cellars. I have known about Daedalus since my time at Wholefoods, where I was one of the first to support their wines. They have the Reserve Labyrinth Pinot Noir and the less expensive Jezebel which they are currently sold out of. They have some great white wines in their lineup like the Riesling and Pinot Gris and Gruner-Veltliner. We ended up purchasing the ’09 Labyrinth Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. I will lay this one down for a few years. I really did not like their ’08 Reserve which surprised me. Personal preference is so interesting and unique, luckily my wife let me choose the wines for purchase because some of the wines purchased maybe weren’t her favorites. If that wasn’t enough for one day our last stop was at Dobbes Family Estate Winery. Both of our palettes were well worn by now but I really enjoyed Dobbes Family wines. Our Tasting Room staff member O’Reilly was awesome and let us try many different wines from the list and gave us good recommendations on places to eat in Newberg. We walked away with the ’08 Youngberg Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is another 08 that I will lay down for about 5 years. Joe Dobbs is primarily a grape grower but also produces about 8 to 10,000 cases of wine a year. Worth checking out if in Dundee. That is day 1 in Willamette Valley and we had so much fun and the weather was a nice 72 degrees. I could not have asked for much more.
Soon I’ll be heading out to Oregon to expand my knowledge of Oregon wines and bring back a case of one of my favorite varieties, Pinot Noir. I enjoy Pinot Noir that display a silky texture. I don’t like Pinot Noir that are so full bodied and ripe that you loose the finesse of the flavors of the wine as I find in many California Pinot Noir wines. In Oregon, Pinot Noir gets the chance to develop flavors that warmer regions just can’t deliver. I recently tried 3 wines from John Grochau, 2 of which where Oregon Pinot Noir. The one I really enjoyed was the 2009 Eola-Amity Hills. This wine had everything that I look for in Pinot Noir. I wish that I had more of this wine right now. I’m meeting up the winemaker and will for sure get some more of this. John makes his wines in an urban winery, and I’m interested in perhaps opening one of my own in Phoenix, Arizona. You can order his wines from North West Wines To You, that’s how I got mine. I’ll post an update on my adventures in Oregon real soon.
Cheers, Jim Wiskerchen
Recently a dozen of my wine Blue Tooth Wine Society Meetup group members sampled and reviewed the lineup from the relatively new winery out of Sonoma, California, Trione Vineyards and Winery. The Trione family are one of the largest growers in Sonoma and are now making wine under their family’s name. We sampled 6 of their wines starting with the ’10 Sauvignon Blanc. This wine had a straw pale color with gold inflections, full bodied and tasted very much like a nice New Zealand styled S.B. Very unusual S.B. for Sonoma but very good quality. Next we tried the ’09 Russian River Chardonnay. This wine was very much in the Sonoma style, but used much less oak and was very well balanced. Great food wine that has some nice crisp acidity and zippy fruit flavors. Next we sampled the ’09 Russian River Pinot Noir. This wine had a dark cranberry color and was a bit cloudy. The wine was certainly full bodied and had some tart, stemmy qualities and had a persistent, long and spicy finish. The wine displayed raspberry & cherry fruit flavors. The next wine was the ’09 Syrah. This wine had an inky purple color. The wine displayed a very barnyard smelling nose initially that blew off quickly once opened. The aroma translated in the taste of the wine but to a lesser degree. The earthy brett induced notes were too much for some tasters but I personally thought that it added some character and was similar to what one might find in some of the very best wines from the south of France in the Rhone. I also got some licorice notes and blackberry fruit flavors This is a big full bodied wine that has a long finish. Next the ’07 Red Blend, Alexander Valley, This is a classic Bordeaux blend showing aromas of dusty currant, cassis and spice. The palate is firm and transitions beautifully into a smooth finish with red berries and sage. This wine is youthful and will age beautifully for the next 6-8 years. The final wine was the ’07 Cabernet Sauvignon, which seemed to be the tasting groups overall favorite. Aromas of currant, sage and allspice dominate the nose. The palate is vibrant and with velvety tannins. This wine is drinking wonderfully now and will age gracefully over the next 5-10 years. Based on the quality of the wines I have decided to start working with Trione to help establish the wines in Arizona. These wines will be available by this fall and I will setup some great events to highlight these wines. I have also been told that the winemaker will come and support the wines as well.
What’s in a name, Terroir
Many people have written about the concept of Terroir. The basic premise of which is originally French, but an idea that has been adopted around the world. It is an idea that special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestow upon particular produce such as wine, coffee, and tea. Agricultural sites in the same region share similar soil, weather conditions, and farming techniques, which all contribute to the unique qualities of the crop. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product. That being said, there is the argument that some people make that grape quality is not reliant on place, that great quality can be achieved regardless of a sense of place.
My instincts and 18 years of experience tell me that both are correct to a degree, let me explain my reasoning. When grapes are harvested they are pure expressions and conduits for the concept of Terroir. Once those grapes are in the winery, however; they can be manipulated by adding sugar, citric acid adjustments, and oak additives to name a few. The winemaking process can remove much and sometimes all of the original detectable sense of place or Terroir. I do still believe that great wines are made in the vineyard and even a point that the opponents of the concept of terroir will concede. That’s not to say that great grapes can’t be made into horrible tasting wines, because they can. It is much harder however, to take poor quality and turn it into good wines. It takes a very skilled winemaker to overcome poor quality grapes out of the vineyards.
Recently, I tasted the wines of Granite Creek Vineyards in Chino Valley, Arizona. Granite Creek is the only certified organic vineyard and wines in Arizona. These wines, due to their organic nature and certification, can’t use additives either in the wine or in the soil, which includes pesticides and artificial fertilizers. These wines in my opinion are a direct expression of the place they come from and a good example of the concept of Terroir and it’s influence on wine. I have also tasted first hand most of the wines from around our great state and I can say unequivocally that Arizona wines depending on where they come from in the state can and will taste different from each other and are much different from other place in the world.
I believe that Arizona winemakers in general manipulate their wines much less than their domestic counter parts in such states as California, Oregon, or even Washington. I imagine that this will change over time as our industry continues to grow and they learn new winemaking techniques.
You can learn about Arizona’s great wines and judge for yourself if terroir is real by attending any of my wine events around the state at mywinehelper.com or you can go directly to my Meetup group Meetup.com/Blue-tooth-wine-society/ for calendar dates and detailed information about events featuring Arizona wines.