Arizona wines, like this red blend from the Sonoita AVA, aren’t widely distributed, which is a shame. (I bought this bottle on a recent trip to Tucson.) But I wanted to use this little gem to give a holiday shout-out to the state’s industry.
I was really impressed by what I saw during a trip to Arizona’s various wine regions a few years back, and things have just gotten better and livelier ever since. The state is about to add its third AVA, Verde Valley, north of Phoenix; the other two are Sonoita and Willcox, in the southern part of the state. Verde Valley is also home to the Southwest Wine Center at Yavapai College, which offers training in winemaking and viticulture and has its own winery and estate vineyard.
The state’s wineries produce bottlings from a vast array of grapes, from Spanish varieties such as tempranillo and graciano to Italian grapes like sangiovese, aglianico and malvasia bianca to the more familiar Bordeaux varieties.
Which brings me back to Callaghan’s Padres ($45), a blend of mostly graciano and tempranillo with some cabernet franc. The wine displays juicy red fruit with a sort of wild, peppery edge. It’s full-bodied without being too tannic and has a long finish. You could pair it with hearty meats, but I enjoyed it with turkey soup.