A monthly look at Arizona wine with Valley dining impresario Pavle Milic.
One of things I love best about Arizona as a winegrowing region is the fact that we grow interesting and lesser-known varietals. In lieu of Pinot Noir, we grow Grenache and Mourvèdre. You like big whites? Have some Vermentino from Sand-Reckoner. Fruitier and fragrant whites? Look no further than Malvasia Bianca, a favorite of local producers.
Tannat is another varietal that has started to appear on Arizona’s wine radar. Most winos agree that it originated in the southwest French region of Madiran, where it’s often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, though also made on its own. In Uruguay, where it is considered the national grape, Tannat constitutes well over one-third of the nation’s plantings. Here in the U.S., we’ve seen tasty examples from emerging wine regions like Virginia and our very own state. Sonoita winemaker Kent Callaghan lauds its “personality and complexity” and its toughness: “It buds relatively early, but it hasn’t really gotten spanked by frost.”
Two Arizona Tannats to try:
2016 DA Ranch Tannat Reserve ($35)
This vintage was barreled for 18 months, which helped to integrate the powerful tannins. Medium in body and full of berries and smokiness on the nose. Make it a nightcap by pairing it with some fatty Taleggio.
2017 Callaghan Vineyards Tannat ($35)
Callaghan makes a highly pixelated, spicy version with plums and licorice escaping the wine glass. I suggest you find the best dry-aged marbled ribeye to drink it with.