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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