Callaghan Me Another Glass…Cheers to Arizona Wine!
I was a little nervous about writing this post, because I wasn’t sure if I could do this winery justice – particularly this wine maker, Kent Callaghan. First, a little background on Kent and his award-winning wines…
Let’s take a look at all of the raves and reviews he’s received over the years. Hailed as:
“An iconic winemaker”
“Well on his way to becoming a winemaking legend”
“Callaghan is a pioneer”
“One of the best kept secrets in America”
You name it. The credits and accolades go on and on, and the sources are no slouches. Even though I’m not sure how much I buy into the opinions of the upper echelon of the wine world, like Robert Parker and the gang, they’re pretty dead on with their assessment of Callaghan.
For anyone who has been following Arizona wine for any length of time, you’ll agree with this statement. While the emergence of Tool’s Maynard Keenan and Dick Erath’s impact and showmanship surrounding Arizona wine has been a tremendous help, Kent Callaghan has been the constant. His wines have been the ones that have made enthusiasts stop and take notice for years.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Callaghan’s tasting room, and have run into Kent and his family at myriad wine events in the state. He’s a very quiet guy. One of those types that doesn’t say a lot, but when he does, you listen, and you listen intently.
So, now that I’ve painted a picture of Callaghan wines, and the many associated accomplishments, let’s get back to my conundrum. How do I review this man and his wines in a way that…well, let’s be frank – doesn’t suck. So here’s my take. I’m a noob. I’m going to talk about a LOT of great wines and winemakers, and there are going to be concepts that are way over my head, and well beyond the grasp of my adolescent palate. But like SNL’s king of daily affirmations, Stuart Smalley would say, “That’s…okay.”
So I thought, why take this on myself? I’ll invite over a gaggle of wine-loving geeks and we can tackle this beast together. And make no mistakes. I was the biggest geek of them all. I decided to get super official, and printed out tasting notes on each of the wines, and downloaded and modified tasting sheet templates for each of the guests to scribble their thoughts about what they were tasting.
Some of my guests impressed me, while others (as expected) made me laugh. I knew inviting my buddy Shannon would result in some awesome observational nuggets like this one:
Or this one:
Clearly, we had a pretty fun night, thanks in part to Shannon and lots in part to Callaghan wines. Our tasting list for the night included Ann’s Selection, Lisa’s Selection, Wayne’s Grenache, Buena Suerte and Padres.
A few thoughts on each from the Peanut Gallery:
Ann’s Selection – 45% Grenache Blanc, 35% Verdelho and 20% Symphony (A UC Davis cross of Muscat and Grenache Blanc)
· Color/Appearance: very light, pale yellow
· Nose/Aroma: lime, apple, smells sweet
· Mouthfeel/Flavors: clean, mineraly, spiced apple on the finish, tasted much different than nose would indicate, apple, grainy, pear and oak, “great summer wine!”
Lisa’s Selection – 55% Viognier, 45% Riesling
· Color/Appearance: very light, golden tone
· Nose/Aroma: subtle apple smell, peachy, grapefruity (yeah, we made up lots of words that night), buttery
· Mouthfeel/Flavors: Tingly on the tongue, slightly oaky, not too sweet, slightly buttery, semi-dry
Wayne’s Grenache – 100% Grenache ***By far the favorite of the night
· Color/Appearance: deep red, “purply” (again…made-up words can be fun)
· Nose/Aroma: Very berry-like, raspberries, strawberries and cherries
· Mouthfeel/Flavors: “Mmmm so friggin’ good!”, “OMG I heart this wine!” “Did you just make a nummy noise?”…our intelligent vocabulary began to escape us at this point in the night…
Buena Suerte – 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot and 8% Merlot
NOTE TO READERS: All of the smelling and writing became a bit too much for this group of amateur winos. We stopped writing and started drinking. It got sloppy. It got giggly. It got REAL fun. Here are the official notes, though.
**FUN FACT! This is one of three wines that earned Callaghan some serious street cred, if you consider The White House a valid source of doling type of “cred” out…
Padres – 35% Tempranillo, 23% Petite Verdot, 18% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc
Umm…again, at this point we were just drinking like ravenous youth busting into mom and dad’s liquor cabinet, circa junior year of high school. Needless to say, we loved the wines. We loved them a little too much.
Now don’t get me wrong, we started the evening in a very civilized, sophisticated-ish sort of way. My talented friend Lacey even brought her super fancy camera and snapped this photo of the spread. Take a look!
So, all in all, it was a ridiculously fun night, jam-packed with good friends, good nosh and some pretty incredible Arizona wines.
A few questions for you to ponder as you prepare to comment liberally, below (hint, hint). Have you ever tasted Callaghan wines? Thoughts? Favorites? Have you ever hosted a party like this of your own? Any ridiculous, fun stories to share? Tips to offer to others wanting to do the same?
And P.S. If you’re interested in taking a trip to the tasting room in Elgin, it’s WELL worth it. Lots of great family wineries in the area. Speaking of great family wineries in the area…
Next week: Dos Cabezas Winewoks! Stay tuned.