Based on feedback from ever-so-vocal-and-intelligent peeps like you, I supply the quiz question each week, but do *not* supply the quiz answer directly in the post – YOU supply your best guess for the answer in the comments, and then tune back in later today in the comments section for the official answer. I might be delayed yet AGAIN in getting around to posting the answer since I’m on the road (in Sonoma… again…) this week – your patience is most appreciated!
Arizona now has almost fifty licensed and bonded wineries, but its wines have been served in a few high-profile places. Can you guess at which of the following events Arizona wines have NOT been poured?
Firstly, it involved me interviewing someone over IP phone software using my laptop. I had to use the laptop becaue I needed a battery. I needed a battery because I didn’t have much faith that my house would retain electrical power given the size of the thunderstorm that was sitting almost directly overhead of my snug little neighborhood at the time. I was Doubting Thomas of the powergrid because the last time I’d seen skies that black, I ended up with a flattened garage, a broken deck, a dead lawn (utterly killed off from having a couple of tons of horizontal 110-year-old oak tree deposited unceremoniously on top of it), and no one within an eight mile radius could use electrical appliances for the better part of a week.
Secondly, it involved interviewing a Grammy-award-winning rock-star-turned-winemaker (again): Maynard James Keenan, the man behind Arizona wine brand Caduceus, and someone who doesn’t give the impression of suffering fools lightly. Oh, and he’s someone who’s rumored to be fairly reclusive when off stage, for just about anything other than the topic of wine. This is sort of what was running through my brain at the time, as I crouched on the floor coordinating notebooks, laptops, and headset while the sky outside took on a purplish hue that would have thrown a cheap Argentine Malbec into fits of jealous rage:
Please, please, pleeeeeeease UPS backup battery, keep the f*cking Internet connection online if the meteorological sh*t hits the fan…!
Thirdly, it involved Playboy, a gig for which the coolness factor is hella-far from running out for me (truth be told, I’m not sure the coolness of it has actually sunk in yet). And finally, in it Keenan talks about Grenache being a “panty-dropper” (and as rock-star as the wine world can sometimes get, I’m not sure the wine world gets a whole lot more rock-star than that).
In the (second to be recorded but third to be released) installment of my podcast thang, I interview Grammy-winning and platinum-album-selling artist Maynard James Keenan – who most will identify as the front man for TOOL, Puscifer and A Perfect Circle, but wine geeks will also know as the founder and fledgling winemaker of Arizona’s Caduceus Cellars.
He’s also not without a sense of dedication, and certainly not afraid of learning things the hard way – that’s an aspect of his personality that comes through crystal clear in the course of this interview.
One could certainly be forgiven, after listening to this podcast, for developing the impression that Maynard is pretty (maybe too?) low-key for a rock star front man; but there’s no way you’re going to think his winemaking career is a superficial attempt to slap his name on a vanity project. If you’re a betting person, you’d best bet that Maynard is in the wine biz for the long haul – and while he may be a famous hard-rock icon, he views his early attempts at winemaking as a passionate and humble beginner.
Having said that… he’s at no shortage of strong opinions about how wine should be made!
I know this end-of-week segment has tentatively been reserved for wines of the week, but so far I’ve featured wines not actually reviewed during the week in question, and in this case I’m giving a badge to just one wine and not multiple wines… so let’s just agree that some re-branding might be in order, ok?
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk Arizona. As in, Yes, Arizona is making wine, just like the rest of the states in the U.S.
Of course, when you tell someone that you just tasted some (samples of) AZ wine, and just watched a (review copy) of the film Blood Into Wine (which chronicles in vastly-entertaining-but-sometimes-too-advertisement-like-fashion the work of rocker Maynard James Keenan and winemaker Eric Glomskito put AZ on the fine wine map), invariably this is the response that you will get:
“Maynard Keenan? Isn’t that the dude from Tool and Puscifer? Arizona makes wine? WTF?”
At least, that’s been my experience.
Based on the similar befuddled reactions of my friends, I can only imagine what the AZ wine industry has to endure every day when asked about their efforts to bring fine wine recognition to the state. My guess is that Napa makes fun of them, all isn’t-that-cute-little-brother style, like the way that we treat Canada most of the time. As my friend Alder Yarrow said during his cameo in Blood Into Wine (paraphrased): I taste a sh*tload of wines every year “and 99.9% of them are not from Arizona.”
Based on what Glomski and Keenan are doing, however, I am wondering if that situation may change in the not-too-distant future…
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