By Alison Bailin Batz
There’s nothing like a glass of big, bold red wine to pair with the welcome chill in the air. In addition to being the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing night by the fire and delicious to sip with a seasonal meal, red wine also makes a great hostess and holiday gift. Here are some of our favorite local varietals to taste and to give.
Carlson Creek: 2015 Malbec
This family-owned, Cochise County-based vineyard – which also has a tasting room in Scottsdale – has grown so popular that it’s expanded from 40 to 280 acres since its inception just a handful of years ago. The Malbec, the vineyard’s first-ever release of this varietal, is a full-bodied bottle with hints of smoke and tobacco. It also has malbec’s signature notes of black pepper as well as rich flavors of plums and blackberries. $40.
Javelina Leap 2015 Zinfandel
Last year’s winner of the Arizona Republic Wine Competition for top zinfandel, this 100 percent zinfandel – grown entirely on Javelina Leap’s own estate in Northern Arizona – knocks you down with its dizzying pepper and spice notes, only to pick you back up with its mellow, supple mouthfeel and sinfully satisfying flavors of cherry and passion fruit. $36.
LDV Winery 2012 The Signature Petite Sirah
Located in the Chiricahua Mountains of Cochise County and also boasting its own tasting room in Scottsdale, LDV Winery focuses on growing Rhône varietal grapes including syrah, grenache, viognier, and – fittingly, their signature grape – petite sirah. “The Signature” is made from 100 percent petite sirah grapes and is only made when the vintage produces grapes that will showcase well on their own. This ultra-full-bodied wine explodes with smoky, spicy, dark fruit flavors. $40.
Page Springs Cellars 2015 Grenache
Fun fact: Grenache is the most widely planted grape in the world. However, in Arizona – due to the terrain – it takes on a silky texture quite unique to the area. This blend of 89 percent grenache and 11 percent barbera is sourced from fruit spanning three different vineyards across Elgin, Fort Bowie and Portal in Southern Arizona. This gives it intensity upon first swirl and sip followed by crystal-clear flavors of strawberry, stone fruit and even a hint of herbs. $40.
Pillsbury Wine Company 2013 Guns & Kisses
A recent double gold medal winner at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, this earthy, peppery shiraz is as big and bold as it is surprisingly balanced. Wine aficionados will note something unique on the nose – the distinct aroma of viognier. That’s because this 100 percent estate wine is made in the tradition of Côte-Rôtie, a lauded wine region of France where they coferment red wine with white viognier grapes for their aroma. $72.
Each wine is available at a variety of Valley locations, including select Total Wine & More, Whole Foods, Fry’s Food Stores, and AJ’s Fine Foods.