Summer is upon us, Phoenicians, and that means it's time to switch up our wine game. Gone are the days of spicy Merlot and bold Bordeaux — for now at least — and here to take their place are light, chilled white wines and rosés. But that doesn't mean you have to give up on drinking Arizona-made wines. Here are our five top Arizona wines for drinking during the summer.
Arizona Stronghold "Tazi"
Tazi has been around for several seasons now and can still be considered one of the region's most consistently drinkable white blends. Made with a combination of Sauvignon Blanc (28%), Reisling (25%), Malvasia (18%), and Chenin Blanc (16%) grapes, Tazi is a light, aromatic wine that pairs well with most foods. On the nose you'll smell floral desert botanicals with a slight salinity reminiscent of agave distillates. The off-dry wine tastes like firm yellow stone fruit, lavender, white mulberry, pear, and green melon, and ends with a smooth, soft finish.
Where to Find It: Enjoy a glass of Tazi ($9/32) on the grapevine-covered patio at St. Francis. Pair it with the creamy Parmesan Risotto ($14) or the Apple Crumb Tart ($8).
Sand Reckoner "Rosé"
There's no way to talk about this rosé without first mentioning that Sand Reckoner Vineyards is currently one of our favorite Arizona wineries. In our opinion, Rob Hammelman and his wife Sarah are making some of the most interesting wines in southern Arizona right now, so track down this rosé before this year's vintage is gone. Made with a blend of Nebbiolo (86%), Sangiovese (12%), and Syrah (2%) grapes, the wine manages to bring out the bright, tart flavors of the Nebbiolo with the juiciness of the Syrah in an inventive way. On the nose, it will bring to mind ripe, juicy strawberry and early spring florals. Tasting it will further your experience of tart, red berries and fragrant aromatics.
Where to Find It: This rare Sand Reckoner vintage is made in small, limited releases and can sometimes be hard to come by. Find it now at Quissence at the Farm ($56 a bottle) where you can pair it with the aptly named "Vineyard Road" Lamb ($43).
Dos Cabezas "Meskeoli"
A true Arizona wine, Meskeoli bears all the marks of its Willcox terroir. Made from the impressively complex blend of Picpoul Blanc (29%), Viognier (26%), Riesling (19%), Roussane (13%), Albarino (5%), Muscat (4%), and Malvasia (4%) grapes, drinking Meskeoli is as intimate as some of us Phoenicians may ever get with the soils of Cochise County. On the nose, the wine gives hints of melon and jasmine, with citrus and apple appearing as a slow-growing afterthought. There's a hint of brininess that could only come from the limestone sands where the grapes are grown. Upon tasting Meskeoli, you find flavors of fresh and juicy white peaches concluding with a long, smooth finish.
Where to Find It: Try Meskeoli at FnB in Scottsdale ($52 a bottle). Pair it with something that packs a bit of heat, like the braised half chicken paprikash ($26).
Pillsbury "WildChild White"
Like Tazi, WildChild White is one of Arizona's most prolific white wines, and it's not hard to see why. Made from a blend of sweet grapes - Riesling (36%), Chenin (36%), Viognier (18%), and Symphony (10%), WildChild smells like diving into a pool of creamy Sonoran honey. The medium-bodied wine tastes like elderflower and pear, with hints of spring desert botanicals and — of course — honey.
Where to Find It: Drink WildChild White ($11/44) at La Bocca Urban Pizzeria + Wine Bar with the Chicken Limone ($15). The sweetness of the Riesling grapes in the wine nicely balances the bold lemon and garlic cooked into the meat.
Caduceus "Lei Li"
Wines out of Caduceus Cellars are always a fun surprise, and Lei Li, named for the famous winemaker's wife and lab manager, is made with 100% Nebbiolo grapes. On the nose, you'll smell the predictable florals and citrus, complicated with a little barnyard funk and a hint of banana leaf. The wine tastes like melons and tropical fruits.
Where to Find It: Lei Li can be found at Pizzeria Bianco ($55 a bottle), where it goes well with the Sonny Boy pizza ($18). The moderate sweetness of the rosé matches nicely to salty sopressata and rich tomato sauce.
Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.