Arizona’s 1st 90-Point Wines Grown on So AZ Vineyard

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Colibri Vineyard
Colibri Vineyard

Wines from two Arizona family-owned vineyards and wineries, Page Springs Cellars and Burning Tree Cellars, have been recognized with 90-point scores by Wine Spectator Magazine. These are the first of Arizona wines to receive scores that exceed 89 points.

The two Arizona wines recognized and also receiving “outstanding” scores from James Molsworth, Senior Editor at Wine Spectator, in a blind tasting were the 2010 Page Springs Cellars Colibri Syrah, Clone 174 and 2010 Burning Tree Cellars Colibri Syrah, Clone 99. Molsworth called the Page Springs Cellars Syrah “Sleek and pure, fresh and driven overall” and said “Ripe, sleek and focused, with a well-embedded acidity” of the Burning Tree Syrah.

Both of the 90-point Arizona wines were made from grapes grown on the Colibri Vineyard in southern Arizona and blended, bottled and cellared at Page Springs Cellars in Cornville, Arizona.

Corey Turnbull, co-owner of Burning Tree Cellars, said, “It’s pretty remarkable that two unique wines made by completely separate labels were brought back together by the vineyard that their fruit came from. Colibri gives its fruit a distinct character that has had an undeniable hand in helping us reach our 90 points. We’re very honored to be one of the first for Arizona wine, but there are certainly more to come.”

Colibri Vineyard was planted in 2000, on the site of the old Morrow apple orchard, located in east Whitetail Canyon, on the northeast slopes of the Chiricahua Mountains in Southern Arizona. Located on north-facing slopes at an elevation of 5,200 feet, Page Springs has seven varieties of wine grapes planted: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise, Roussanne, Viognier and Petit Verdot. These varieties are found most commonly in the Rhône Valley of France, and many of these clones were originally collected there.

Birds, bears and deer are part of what makes Whitetail Canyon so unique. The wildlife is abundant as the vineyard is located in a pretty wild part of Arizona. That brings with it some challenges in growing lots of tasty grapes. All (yes all!) of the vines are covered with bird netting.

Eric Glomski, Owner and Head Winemaker at Page Springs Cellars, manages the Colibri Vineyard, which has become a labor of love for the winemaker since he took over in 2011. The vineyard’s harvest was destroyed by a wildfire in 2011, and has also suffered losses from frosts and freezes. Glomski is currently in the process of purchasing the property and is very optimistic about the upcoming vintage.

Glomski commented, “We’ve been dealt our share of challenges as winegrowers in Arizona – both in the uncharacteristically unique trials of the land and climate, to overcoming and winning over perceptions of Arizona as a winemaking region at all.” Glomski continued, “We’re so proud of the wine industry here in Arizona, and are more than thrilled to be producing the caliber of wines that we always knew was possible. These scores came as a result of a lot of hard work from a lot of people, but ultimately this is a triumph for Arizona.”

With both award-winning wines sold out, Page Springs Cellars has opened up pre-orders of the 2012 vintage for both syrahs. Bottles will be available for sale online for $50 per bottle, for a limited time. Page Springs Cellars Wine Club Members will have the ability to reserve bottles first, and any remaining inventory will go on sale to the public on August 2.

For more information on Page Springs Cellars, visit www.pagespringscellars.com