Now in its fourth year of production, the recently released Page Springs 2014 Super Arizona features a few changes from last year's bottling. An elusive and subtly complex wine, Super Arizona is an excellent representation of why Arizona winemaking is becoming more exciting by the year.
It's easy to draw the parallels between Super Arizona and typical Super Tuscans — bold Italian wines characterized by the combination of Sangiovese grapes with jammy Bordeaux varietals — and we're certain that's what Page Spring Cellars winemaker Eric Glomski had in mind when he named it.
This year's Super Arizona is made up of 30 percent Sangiovese, 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 21 percent Malbec, 17 percent Merlot, and 7 percent Montepulciano, reversing the dominance of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese found in last year's blend.
It makes sense that Glomski would put so much effort into perfecting these Italian and Bordeaux varietals. The terroir of southeastern Arizona, where the grapes used in Super Arizona are grown, is similar to that of Tuscany. Silt, clay, gravel, and sedimentary rock dominate the geology of the area, while the briny remains of Lake Cochise — now referred to as the Willcox Playa — produce a salinity reminiscent of coastal Italy. Both regions are moderately warm and arid, although Italy's Mediterranean moisture is swapped here for the late-summer monsoon.
While advances are being made continually in Arizona viticulture, careful attention is being paid to the varietals that best represent the state's natural assets, which Super Arizona demonstrates beautifully.
Tasting this wine requires a talent for subtlety, as it is neither loud nor offensive like some of its Italian counterparts can sometimes be. The wine is clear with little to no sediment, and colored like a ruby. Without knowing that the grapes were harvested in 2014, it is clear that the wine is youthful.
On the nose, we detect predictable under-ripe red fruits like cranberry, raspberry, and sweet cherry. There is a hint of cooking herbs like oregano, as well as tones of inorganic gravel and salt.
Once we finally taste Super Arizona, we discover that the predominance of Sangiovese yields a medium-bodied dry wine that is low in tannin with medium-high alcohol and acid. We taste under-ripe, slightly dried strawberry, raspberry, and cherry with a slight tinge of cured meat. We also discover a small amount of potting soil flavor bearing the telltale iron and salt of Willcox-grown grapes.
Super Arizona is an understated wine that will pair well with foods like steak, tomato-rich Italian dishes, and aged meats. It's a great wine for transitioning from light summer varietals into richer, more full-bodied wines better suited to fall and winter. It's clear that Page Springs Cellars, like many of the dedicated wineries across the state, continue to make great use of their seasons to produce wines that get better every year.
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