2019 Aridus Wine Syrah – An Unexpected Delight From Arizona!
First thing right up front is most don’t think of Arizona as a “winery state”! Turns out Arizona has over 120 wineries scattered throughout the state. Aridus is located in southeastern Arizona in Willcox, about 85 miles east of Tucson in Cochise County. The town of Willcox has 14 different tasting rooms!
(Picture from City of Willcox)
Scott and Joan Dahmer founded Aridus Wine Company in 2012, just outside the city of Willcox. The name Aridus, come from the Latin word meaning “dry or arid”, most appropriate for most people’s idea of Arizona.
(Tasting room in Willcox. Picture from Aridus Wine Company)
The winery/crush facility and tasting room are located in two different locations in Willcox. They also have another tasting room in Scottsdale on Main Street. Their yearly production is approximately 2,500 cases. They have an amazing lineup of different varietals available including: whites including Malvasia Bianca, Viognier, Chardonnay, Fume Blanc and Muscat. Reds include Merlot, Mourvèdre, Graciano, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Petite Verdot and Montepulciano, as well as several Rosés.
(Tasting room in Scottsdale. Picture from Aridus Wine Company)
The winemaker, Lisa Strid has produced wine for the last seven years at the winery. During this time, she has produced 183 wines from five different growing regions in Arizona, New Mexico and California. Since 2020, Aridus is now making wine exclusively from its estate vineyard.
The Wine – 2019 Aridus Syrah
Photo ©Michael Kelly
When I was sent three wines, including the Syrah, I had no idea what to expect. In California some of the best wines come from warm regions and dry farmed, forcing the roots to seek water and bringing forth wonderful minerality. So I welcomed a warm climate wine expecting something, possibly something very good. This Syrah came from two vineyards located next to each other on the Willcox Bench. This bottle is 100% Syrah. Only 220 cases were produced and it sells for $60/bottle. A unique characteristic of this wine was that it was aged 30 months in French oak barrels, 73% second-fill French oak, and 27% neutral oak.
First on the eyes, a dark radiant and enticing purple/magenta hue. On the nose, lavender and blueberry, waft into the senses. On the palate, raspberry, sweet vanilla and cinnamon bounce joyfully from side to side expressing a fullness in the mouth. A hint of mocha and light roasted coffee are present on the enticing finish beckoning yet another sip. To say I was both pleasantly shocked and excited tasting this wine from Arizona is an understatement!
It is often difficult to find a well balanced Syrah from the known Syrah regions of France, California, Chile, South Africa and Australia, let alone, at least for me, the unknown Willcox, Arizona region was delightful.
The Food and Wine Pairing
Photo ©Michael Kelly
While this might not be what one is accustomed to seeing for semi-gourmet meals, the temperature hit 80 degrees in northern California for the first time in 6 months after our cold and wet winter. Felt like lighting up the BBQ and having a simple comfort food hamburger (no bun) for dinner. Pulled this wine out not knowing what to expect. Now I wish we had pork loin, chicken mole, beef short ribs or various other typically match food pairing with a Syrah! The burger with Roma tomatoes, purple onion slice, with mustard and ketchup still hit the spot. Accompanied by rustic French fries and a fresh garden salad was a great way to welcome the BBQ season. The wine with its flavors and full mouth feel, were an excellent pairing.
I can hardly wait to taste the two other wines sent from Aridus Wine Company, the 2020 Viognier and the 2019 Tempranillo. Those stories will follow in the next coming weeks and I may have to plan a wine tour in Arizona!!