Another huge hiatus! Time to make up for it with a dazzling series. Once in a while, especially when playing catch-up on a wine blog, you want a wine that just rocks. No snobby nonsense; no sniff, swirl, spit. Just a wine that breaches all boundaries, pushing the limits of what you thought possible in terms of terroir. I found such a wine recently, and it represents a defiant vision of winemaking I find quite attractive.
This wine is the 2008 Stronghold Vineyards “Tazi,” a white blend made in Cornville, Arizona by no less a personage than Maynard James Keenan, frontman for the alternative/prog metal legend Tool. If anything exemplifies the approach used for producing this wine, it is the name: “Tazi” is a name used for the Persian greyhound, one of the earliest breeds to diverge from wolves. The vineyard site, located at the eastern end of Sulfur Springs Valley, is 80 acres, of which 70 are currently cultivated. If you want to learn about this project, which Keenan undertook with winemaker Eric Glomski, see the documentary, Blood Into Wine, which can be obtained at their website http://www.arizonastrongholdvineyards.com/. Who could expect that Arizona would produce wines of any note, let alone with such bold fruit character and aromatics as this one?
What surprised me about “Tazi” is its composition: it is a blend of 52% Sauvignon Blanc, 21% Chardonnay, 19% Riesling and 8% Malvasia Bianca – Sauvignon Blanc contributes freshness and acidity, as well as some herbal qualities; Chardonnay contributes body and texture; Riesling contributes finesse and some fruit to the finish, while Malvasia contributes aromas and texture. Combined in this blend, they present a wine that is floral and fruit-driven on the nose, focused on peach, tangerine, and honeysuckle notes. It has a nicely balanced mouthfeel, medium-bodied and supple, except a little hot from the 13.7% alcohol. Nice crisp medium finish, but again, a bit hot for my taste. Try this fine example of unorthodox winemaking for only $18.