It’s a long way from France’s Rhône Valley to the highlands of Arizona. But there, in the Grand Canyon State, traditional Rhône varieties have found favorable terrain and are gaining a successful foothold.
Arizona Stronghold, located in central Arizona north of Phoenix, is one of more than 100 wineries in the state, where they’ve been making wine, on some level, since the Spanish were fermenting the Mission grape back in the 1600s.
In naming its Nachise wine, Arizona Stronghold borrowed a Native American word that means “meddlesome one” or “mischief maker” and refers to the youngest son of Cochise, the great Apache leader. It’s an apt name for the wine; a quality Rhône-style blend from Arizona, of all places, challenges our thinking about these varieties.
The grapes in Nachise are sourced from five vineyards, most of them in the Wilcox AVA (American Viticultural Area) in southeast Arizona, one of two AVAs in the state.
This is a medium-bodied, fruit-forward wine with concentrated raspberry, blueberry, and plum aromas and flavors, accented by pepper and baking-spice notes and supported by bright acidity.
It’s balanced and easy to drink with moderate alcohol, 13.9 percent ABV. Perhaps most importantly, the wine is varietally “correct” – the tastes are typical of the grapes and resemble those in similar blends from the Côtes du Roussillon in the south of France.
Nachise is a natural for grilled and roasted meats, and I can easily see it as a quintessentially American wine at a Thanksgiving feast. It’s also a solid value at $19. With 1,285 cases produced, it’s available mainly on the Arizona Stronghold website for shipment to 21 states and Washington, D.C.