Tuesday 21 January 2020
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Callaghan’s Round Table: Questions 7 & 8

Here is the final installment of Callaghan’s Round Table, Questions #7 and #8. Kent Callaghan contributed an article that focused on a round-table discussion between some of his favorite Arizona winemakers. Last quarter’s questions: #5—“How significant do you think vintage variation is in Arizona? Please elaborate with examples.” and #6—“How do you see Arizona wines in relation to other winegrowing areas of the world?”


Maynard Keenan/Caduceus
Italy. I’m Italian and I’m going all-in and putting all my chips on Arizona-Italian-Spanish reds (and whites). I’m secretly a hopeless romantic.

Paso Robles VineyardRod Keeling/Keeling Schaefer Vineyards
Closer to home, Paso Robles is another area, like Arizona, that takes advantage of the climate to grow and make big wines. Although, many wine intellectuals are trying to denigrate the winemakers in Paso Robles and other warm wine growing areas because of their lush, opulent styles… why should a winemaker be limited? To me, the great thing about wine is the variety of styles available… from light and elegant, to big and bold… One is not right or wrong; we all have the freedom to drink what we like.

James Callahan/Rune Wines
I am currently most interested in southwestern France and all the small villages/regions it offers. It is interesting to me because I can draw a lot of parallels between our two regions and perhaps gain insight on how to further improve our wines and vineyards here.

Tim White/Iniquus Cellars
Mostly because of how these areas compare to us: the Uco Valley in Argentina, the northern plateau of Spain, New Mexico, Mexico and loosely southern Rhone and parts of Italy. I believe we could learn from regions that are geographically similar to Arizona.

Sicilian VineyardTodd Bostock/Dos Cabezas WineWorks
Good question. Just one? Right now I am fascinated with Sicily, specifically the wines from Etna. They remind me of wines from Arizona for a lot of reasons.

Rob Hammelman/Sand-Reckoner
It’s too hard to pinpoint just one. Regions that share similar character with our growing area are at the top of the list—currently seeking out wines from the Cafayate, Alentejo, Maremma, Montalcino, Umbria and Sicily. I also have an undying love for Rhone wines.

Ann Roncone/Lightning Ridge Cellars
This will be four regions for me, and that’s narrowing it down. Being from the Bay Area in Northern California, I have a soft spot for Amador County in the Sierra Foothills (#1). Another favorite is Napa (#2), a no brainer. Paso Robles, CA (#3)… where to start on their terrific wines? And Tuscany, Italy (#4), the Brunellos and Super Tuscans are only the beginning.


Maynard Keenan/Caduceus
Caduceus and Merkin Vineyards have quite a few SKUs so I’d rather not take up all your space with all of that nonsense. But, in general, most of my wines go with Italian food; specifically pasta dishes. The Syrah-based blends prefer rich scallop and seafood dishes with just a hint of spice, but, for the most part, pasta dishes rule the pairings. Of course, the specific pairings are dependent upon what you’ve stuffed in your ravioli tortellini or agnolotti.

Rod Keeling/Keeling Schaefer Vineyards
Keeling Schaefer Vineyards (KSV) wines are mostly made in a very ripe style, with the exceptions of the Grenache and the Viognier, so pair-up accordingly. Pairing wines with food is a fun exercise. Most of the time, if you follow the obvious, the pairing is usually pretty good; however, every once in a while, the pairing takes on a life of its own and that is where the magic flavors reside. The 2007 KSV Partners Rhone Blend (88 pts. WS) and almond-crusted grilled salmon. Not bad.

James Callahan/Rune Wines
I have always paired my food with my wine. Maybe that’s how winemakers do it? There is no written law to pairing but I do enjoy finding surprising pairings that work really well together. I make a lot of different wines and I eat a lot of spicy foods. With that being said, try a Chardonnay with Pork Chile Verde. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Tim White/Iniquus Cellars
lons food and wine - michell jonasI’m not sure I have any specific recommendations here. As with most things, I believe food and wine pairing to be a very individual and exploratory endeavor. For example, I love grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with our Arizona Stronghold Vineyards Nachise. The food/wine connection is very important. I think we as Americans should look to Old World cultures as an example. Most Italian and French wines are made to go with food. When you sit down for a meal there is always wine at the table, intended only to highlight and complement the food.

Todd Bostock/Dos Cabezas WineWorks
I think the food connection is important. Looking at parts of the world where people eat and drink well, that have great food and wine culture – the food and wine grow up together and seem to evolve a need for each other. Here in Arizona we are fortunate that, while we are exploring what Arizona tastes like wine-wise, there is a renewed enthusiasm for the food that is (and has been) grown and raised here. There is a rich, culinary history here in the desert that seems to be enthusiastically explored from a new perspective. A lot of great chow has come, not from times of abundance and folks with endless resources, but from the creativity that is required to survive when times are tough. The desert offers no shortage of opportunity for tough times.

What would I recommend pairing with our wines? It is a cop-out, but I feel that our wines tend to work well with a rather broad range of foods; some can even handle heat (spice) and strong flavors. The best experiences come from the capable hands of folks like Charleen Badman, John Hall and Greg LaPrad, (to pull a few names from a hat filled with many), who are engaged in the same sort of exploration with food from Arizona that we are with wine from Arizona. I have subjected my body to the experiment many times and can report that, through the course of an evening, a complete range of dishes from these folks combined with a complete range of wines from our lineup (white, pink, red and dessert) will capture and hold a diner’s attention as he/she gives way to the magnetic attraction created by the longing of the residents of plate and glass to be united in the diner’s belly… the union, a pleasure analog of bearing witness to a V-Day kiss in Times Square.

Rob Hammelman/Sand-Reckoner
The food/wine connection is very important – wine tends to lend itself to the food from the place where it was grown, and vice versa. One of my favorite pairings is our Sand-Reckoner Syrah 7 with lamb we raised at the vineyard, accompanied by roasted veggies from a farm down the road.

Ann Roncone/Lighting Ridge Cellars
For pairings, our wines do well with: hearty pasta dishes, grilled anything or aged cheeses. The food/wine connection is a real aspect of complementing wine. Our red wines hold up to grilled meats, but are soft enough to pair with pastas, as well.


We want to thank Kent Callaghan’s Round Table for taking the time to write their thoughtful and thought-provoking answers to his interesting questions. We’ve learned a lot about Arizona wine, our unique terroir and the unique and varied perspectives of some of our winemakers. We feel that, although not comprehensive, this round table represents a nice sample of regions, styles, gender and experience. Next up – we hope to get Kent to answer his own questions and provide his experienced perspective, as a complement to his chosen Round Table.

Article by Kent Callaghan

Originally published in the Winter 2013 issue of AZ Wine Lifestyle.

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