Tuesday, May 28, 2013

They Make Wine There?!? Arizona Stronghold

We topped out on the first bench of Wilson Mountain around 7am. Our day had started at 3:30 when we woke to trek into the canyon for a very early breakfast and a nice view of the Lyrid meteor shower. As soon as it was light enough to see the placement of one foot in front of the other, we set out on the trail for a sunrise trek into the desert around Sedona, AZ. One would not guess that this was supposed to be a trip full of R&R...that, or they would have to readjust their idea of what it means to relax to match that of mine and my best friend Amanda's. What can I say? Work hard, play hard.

Part of playing hard was trying out some of the awesome beverages in the area. I know that many don't think "wine" when they think of Arizona, but there are some really amazing vineyards and wineries there. The day after we tackled Wilson Mountain, Amanda and I took a lower-test day and went out wine tasting. Our favorite by far was Arizona Stronghold in Cottonwood.

The tasting room was delightfully cool and cave-like with blood-red walls. We settled in on a fat leather couch as our host, Cassy, brought us a variety of wines to test out. The first favorite was the 2011 Mangus, a Tuscan-style Cabernet/Merlot blend. Earthy and bold, this wine had a nose full of dark fruit, and a tannic but balanced flavor full of cherry and spice. This is a great sipping wine, and it made me want to eat wild mushrooms with creamy, herbed sauces.

The knockout however was the Lozen. We tried the 2010 vintage (the 2011 just came out). This wine is full of dark and ripe fruit, leather, tobacco, and mineral finish. It has all the elements of an earthy big red, with the roundness of big fruit, and herbal notes. Amanda and I both immediately ordered a full glass upon tasting it, and enjoyed in alongside both dark chocolate and sharp cheese. A bottle procured for the evening was paired with spicy grilled pork chops and veggies. The smokiness of the food was well-complimented by the wine.

We also learned that the wine's namesake, Lozen was a Chihenne-Chiricahua warrior and healer. Her hands were said to be clairvoyant, and she fought with a fierceness that equaled any man. Of course that added story appealed to the two of us!


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