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Thursday, November 19, 2009

A few Arizona (ARIZONA!?) winery stops

While visiting Tucson I went to four southern Arizona tasting rooms in the Sonoita/Elgin area between Tucson and the border. In fact, on the way back to Tucson we went through a Border Patrol stop manned by three guys about 30 miles north of Mexico (your tax dollars at work).

Many of the wines are from grapes brought in from California, but most were local grapes. They seem to be growing most everything from Sauvignon Blanc to Zinfandel. Tempranillo and Rhones also seem to do well. This is a high desert area, about 4500 ft. elevation.
Area vineyards. Photo taken Nov '09
Following are recollections from my four stops. I've listed the wineries from my least favorite to my favorite stop.

Rancho Rossa

They are the only estate vineyard in the area meaning they grow all their own fruit.

Across the board, except for the Cabernet, the wines are flawed. There is a very distinct, and bad, nose and taste to the wines. I sampled the Sauv Blanc and about six reds. Something in the soil? The water? Cellar? It was sort of a metallic, chemically taste. Somehow the Cab escaped this and was pretty decent.


Sampling several reds I noticed most were from CA grapes. One that had the same nose and flavor flaw as the Rancho Rossa wines was made of grapes from Mendocino County per the label. The other wines were decent, but there was nothing I would have to take with me.

Canelo Hills

I tried several reds. The Sangiovese and Syrah were my favorites, but they were pretty good across the board. They were sold out of their Tempranillo that seems to be a favorite.


I sampled several reds here, also. Most were blends and all were very good to excellent. Nice fruit in the wines; better than the other stops. It's possible they may leave a little residual sugar in them (I'm just guessing), but so what if it works? By far my favorites. And they get bonus points for using screw caps.

A number of Spanish and Rhone varietals in the blends; even a Petit Verdot based blend.