Cost: Average price $25
Where buy now: Vinifera – $24.99
Grapes: Arizona Stronghold: Cabernet Sauvignon “Dala”
Region: Cochise County, Arizona
I recently saw the documentary, “Blood Into Wine”, www.bloodintowine.com/Blood Into Wine the story of wine makers pioneering the terroir of northern Arizona (most notably, Maynard Keenan, front man for bands such as Tool and A Perfect Circle). A real triumph of man vs. nature, these guys attempt to coax the finicky climate into producing consistent, quality vino. Intrigued, I decided I needed this wine.
The winery, named Caduceus, lists but one, yes, ONE Minnesota shop on their website who carries their wine. Where did this city gal venture to sample this precious nectar? Vinifera, located on the Plymouth/Wayzata border, about 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis. Sexy Wayzata, home of Brandon and Brenda Walsh!
As I walk in to this cute shop, I am greeted by a sweet golden retriever just milling about. I soon met the owner, Christian, and we chatted about “Blood into Wine”. He explained that all Caduceus wine has been taken off the retail shelves and is only available from the tasting room in Arizona. Boo-urns! Thankfully, he did have four bottles from the Arizona Stronghold winery (a joint venture between Mr. Tool & Eric Glomski). The Cabernet Sauvignon & Chardonnay are solely produced from Arizona-born grapes, and they also make two blends (a red and a white) from Napa Valley grapes. Well, the curiosity of the AZ grape is what brought me there, so I went for the Cab. At $24.99, this was steep for my wallet, but I had to roll the dice. Was this wine worth the price AND the drive?
Later that evening, I inspect the bottle. I cannot believe I’m going to crack a $25 bottle of wine on a Monday night. Who am I? I work for a non-profit for rice lakes! I gingerly open it and pour a glass, letting it breathe for about 10 minutes while I prepared a quick spinach salad with red onion, gorgonzola dolce cheese, tomatoes and vinaigrette. I sat down and stuck my nose in the glass for good whiff of this Arizona swill. I smelled cherry, mild spice and chocolate [dare I say even a little earth? This could the documentary’s influence]. The taste was all Cab – fuller bodied, dark red fruit with undertones of chocolate and spice. It paired quite well with the gorgonzola. I like this creamy gorgonzola dolce [sweet gorgonzola] found at Lund’s, Byerly’s, Kowalski’s, etc. (the fancy-pants joints).
After the salad, I just had to grab some dark chocolate to complete the evening. I recently bought some 65% cacao dark chocolate (on sale at Kowalski’s), so into my face it went. I let the chocolate melt a little before dropping in for another whiff. Oh, yeah – now the chocolate scent was pronounced. I continued to let the square shrink on my tongue as melty chocolate ribbons oozed down my throat. “Now it’s time!” I thought. I took a sip of the Stronghold and sat back, my eyes rolling. “Wow!” I thought, “I may do this every Monday”. My only criticism of the wine is that I wished it had a longer finish. So delicious, I wanted the flavor to hang out a little more in my mouth. What’s the rush, man? Chill. Stay a while.
Was my jaunt out to Wayzata/Plymouth worth it? Hells yes! I wished I hadn’t gone over my lunch hour because I would have perused the shelves. Christian remarked that 80% of their wines are Californian, but they do carry wines from all over the world. I’ll keep these guys in my back pocket as I saw they carry wines I haven’t seen outside Sonoma! If you live in the Western suburbs, add this stop to your weekend or nightly errands.
March is here and that means inconsistent and often times, crappy winter weather. Here’s my suggestion for a decadent evening: Stop over to Vinifera www.viniferawinesandales.com/Vinifera and pick up a bottle of the Arizona Stronghold Cabernet, rent “Blood into Wine” and pick up some good dark chocolate. Nestle into the couch with your goodies and relax. It’ll be like Mr. Roger’s “Picture Picture” for adults.