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Check Out an Arizona Winner

Posted on: November 27th, 2010 by Tom Peiffer No Comments

In a local wine tasting contest setup by the FnB restaurant, the big news this year is that Arizona wines are tops.  This was surprising to many who have tasted Arizona wines over the years and have not always been impressed.  However, things keep getting better for those producers who just refuse to give up.

In the Sonoita appellation, Southeast of Tucson, the wineries take their work seriously.  They have been encouraged through the years by experts who have said the Sonoita soil is similar to the Rhone valley in France.  In addition, the cool nights of Arizona’s higher elevations are very friendly to grapes by giving them a chance to recover from the day’s heat.  By adding irrigation to fill in for the low rainfall, and using modern grape monitoring methods like they do in California, the local vintners are starting to score big.

One of the most successful of the Sonoita producers is Callaghan.  Their unique wine blends are customized for Arizona conditions and often break with traditional wine blends.  This is especially true of their white wines.

For example, the white wine winner of “The 2010 Judgment of Arizona Wines” was Callaghan’s Lisa’s Selection 2008 vintage.  This blend has been made from Viognier and Riesling in past years.  French vintners may have tried this combination already, but it is certainly not well known.

The 2008 blend is proprietary, so the exact grape combination is anyone’s guess.  But regardless of the blend, Lisa’s is an excellent dry white wine with just enough “Arizona Character” to make it stand out from all others.  Its body and light acidity sure seem like a continuation of their using a Riesling and Viognier blend.  You be the judge.

If you want to track down a bottle of Lisa’s Selection without a big search, look first at AJs or Whole Foods.

Because of its complex bouquet and flavors, this one is best served only slightly chilled.  Open after 40 minutes in the fridge (55-60 degrees).

Written by Tom Peiffer, Phoenix Wine Shopping Examiner at

View more of Tom’s articles on by visiting his writer’s page.

About the Author - Tom Peiffer

Tom has been an avid wine consumer and collector for over 20 years. This pastime has taken he and his family on many visits to wine growing regions, including Arizona. During these excursions, with the accompanying tastings and lectures, it became clear that there is no "magic bullet" wine. For each wine contains its own character, strong points, and weaknesses. Sharing these experiences to help anyone purchase locally available wines is his goal.

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