For nearly 20 years, the wine world has wavered in its opinion about whether Arizona wines can live up to the popularity of California varietals or the distinction of Oregon and Washington vines. Well, waver no more, and make up your own mind by taking a wine walk in Old Town Scottsdale.
LDV Wine Gallery
LDV Wine Gallery, off First Street and Goldwater Boulevard, takes you out of Scottsdale down to the LDV Winery in the southeast corner of Arizona near the Chiricahua Mountains, where the grapes are grown. Owner Peggy Fiandaca explains how the winery started eight years ago as a kind of “mid-life crisis” and pours a gentle 2013 Sky Island grenache that sits smoky on the palate. If you’re looking for a full-bodied red with a hint of spice, try the 2012 “The Signature” petite sirah, aged 33 months in American oak barrels.
Flight: Three for $8 or five for $12
Su Vino Winery
Tucked behind a condominium complex in Scottsdale's arts district, Su Vino Winery greets you with friendly staffers ready to pour funky wines. The Scottsdale winery is the second location of the Texas-based company, which gets the majority of its grapes from California. You’ll want to skip the reds — in our opinion they lack the body and force of a true red. Instead, opt for the easy-to-drink unoaked chardonnay and pair it with the warm Brie appetizer. Or try the after-dinner Porto Cocoa with the cinnamon and cranberry-topped dates stuffed with goat cheese.
Flight: Five for $10
Aridus Wine Company
Down the street from Su Vino, you’ll find Aridus, an intimate tasting room with modern elegance. The family-owned winery is located in Turkey Creek, just 30 miles from the state’s largest custom crush facility in Willcox. The tasting bar offers a number of vintage wines, including a 2014 viognier with notes of citrus and pineapple fruits locally sourced from Willcox Bench, and a 2013 malbec layered with a punch of toasted cherry and cranberry. Purchase one of these irresistible bottles and the tasting fee is comped.
Flight: Five for $10
Carlson Creek Vineyard
Carlson Creek’s second tasting room opened in Scottsdale last July. Located in the heart of the art gallery scene, the Willcox winery partners with PSA Art Awakenings, a program that promotes “empowerment and recovery through artistic expression for adults and youth who face behavioral health challenges.” As you inspect the lively art on the walls, sip the winery's newest release, the 2014 mourvedre. This vintage wine is the perfect warm-weather drink — a pleasant red without too much heat. For a long and lingering red, try the San Francisco Chronicle’s silver medal winner: the 2012 merlot.
Flight: Five for $10
The Salvatore Vineyards tasting room sits at the roundabout at Marshall Way and Fifth Avenue. Ford & Haig Tobacconist is right next door, and while some taste-goers may prefer their drink without the wafting smell of cigar smoke, you may find it helps bring out many different aromas and flavors. Allie, the bartender, is informative about winemaking and how the region and terroir plays a role in the subtle notes of your glass of wine. There are two flights to choose from, but if you’re looking to get your money’s worth, stick with the cheaper non-reserves flight, which tasted just as sophisticated as the more expensive reserves.
Flight: Reserves is five for $20 or Non Reserves is five for $12
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.