February’s Wine Club

Since that Valentine’s Day thing is coming up, we thought we would find some romantic selections. And we did. Lush, rich, and spicy.  Sounds like our last date!

This month’s selections will also mark a couple (or three) firsts for the club. First of the firsts, we are offering two reds this month. Don’t fret, white wine lovers. If you need a white wine selection in your life, we can accommodate that.

Before we get into the selections, we want to talk a little about a specific varietal.  One that was thought to be a native vitis to North America; however, genetic testing proved that wasn’t the case.  If you haven’t figured out the varietal yet, here is a clue/quote from one of our favorite wine movies, Bottle Shock: “Any a$$!@le can tell the difference between a Merlot and a ______.”

Figure it out yet?  OK, we are talking about Zin, or Zinfandel to be varietally correct.

Zinfandel had developed a claim that it was native to North America, but in recent genetic testing it was discovered that Zinfandel shares the same DNA as the Italian Primativo and the Croatian Crljenak Kastelanski varietals. There were also mentions of Zinfandel possibly coming from another Croatian grape named Palvac Mali, but later DNA testing showed that Palvac Mali, the flagship varietal of Croatia, actually came from a cross between Crljenak Kastelanski and Dobricic. So in essence, Palvac Mali comes from Zinfandel.

The earliest recorded mention of Zinfandel comes from a nursery in NE America during the early 19th century. Zinfandel then traveled across the country and found a home in sunny California. Plantings spread across the state and soon America had what it thought was its own native varietal.

Now although Zinfandel is genetically the same as Crljenak Kastelanski and Primativo, there is a bit of nuance between Zin and its “twins,” showing a slight difference in vine vigor and grape cluster size. So although Zin has genetic twins in other parts of the world, it has developed its own characteristics, most likely due to differences in terroir and cultivation. Thus Zinfandel might be the best example of a native vitis from North America!

And February’s selections are…

Peachy Canyon “Chillhouse” Zinfandel
Tasting wine is fun. There, we said it. It’s fun. And traveling to a certain wine producing area, spending some time discovering wines from that area, and discovering a commonality of terroir within its wines makes tasting them even more fun. This experience is, in our opinion, best displayed via the rows of vines in Paso Robles, CA. There is a distinct flavor memory that is unlocked when we taste wines from Paso Robles–it screams, “Hey, remember me?  Yeah, we are going to have a good time again…. hiccup!” Peachy Canyon was founded in Paso Robles, CA in 1988 and made Zinfandel their flagship varietal from the start. As a tribute to their barrel room, they released a new wine called “Chillhouse”. The barrel room was kept at a cool temperature so that the barrels would keep the wine resting perfectly before it was bottled and sent out into the world for Zinfandel fans to enjoy. Please enjoy our first offering of Zinfandel in the club!

Chacewater Cabernet Franc
This selection is truly a unique wine club experience. A couple of months ago a friend walked into the shop to show us some wine. (OK, he wasn’t a friend then, but he and his family are now!) This guy, Luke Manuel, happened to have a family winery in California and wanted an opportunity to show us what his family does. His approach was genuine and did not rest on the “I own a California winery and my grapes are the best” approach. He talked about his family’s home and connection with the soil. He presented some very good wine – wine that showcased a great quality to price ratio, AKA exactly the type of wine we want to share with you!  As we were discussing the wines, we started to talk about the wine club. He mentioned that he had an idea for us to deliver a Cabernet Franc… Hold the phones, text messages, emails, whatever. Cab Franc? A Cab Franc with an 88 case total production? This wine was not available in AZ, so he had a couple of bottles shipped in for us to try. And when the bottles arrived, slam dunk! So we are very happy to bring you a very hard to find 100% Cabernet Franc (another wine club first) from the Ponderosa Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills! Did we mention that Chacewater wines are also organically grown? Back in 1989 there was a forest fire that burned through the Manuel’s property. The family was faced with a major decision on what they would do to restore the land. They decided on planting an organic vineyard. Thank you to Luke and his family. And if you happen to be in the Scottsdale area around Shea and Scottsdale road, the Manuel family have opened a great little wine bar named GWIN Wine + Beer, which features their family wines and other small producers from around the world. Check it out!


Craig & Danielle


January’s Wine Club

Hello Hidden Track Wine Club Members, and welcome to 2017!

We have not officially been open for three years yet, but we have been sharing and discussing wine with our great customers in 2015, 2016, and now 2017! Let the “Wine Times” Roll!

A quick note and shout out to Jon and Carrie Christiansen. If you’ve met Carrie “I feel it in my heart and soul” Christiansen, you know she’s always good for a soundbite. But it was Jon who walked into our shop with the next inspiring slogan for the back of our World Famous Hidden Track Bottle Shop T-shirts: “‘Cause I’ve got friends in Merlot Places”! T-shirts will be available within a week or two at the shop. Stop in and grab one before they are gone!

And on to the wine! The Pacific meets the Atlantic for this month’s coastal selections. To be more specific, we’re talking Willamette and Loire Valley wines – prime examples of age worthy, food pairing wine regions.

This month we were in search of certain types/styles of wine. The direction was based on many of you stopping in to share an interest in cooking simple dishes at home while relating it more to wine that can pair beautifully with the cuisine. So we decided to challenge you with a Loire Valley vs Willamette Valley cook off! May your best shellfish and salmon dishes inspire us all!

Both the Loire and Willamette are known for their wines and farmlands. Truly an inspirational “farm to table” lifestyle that is separated by language, yet understood by all.

Colene Clemens 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Located entirely in the Chehalem Mountain sub-appellation is a 100 acre estate specializing in estate-grown Pinot Noir. Only about 50 acres are under vine, which allows for very careful attention to the different types of Pinot Noir clones that are on site. (Including some of our favorites, btw, like Dijon 667, Pommard, and Wadensvil.) Willamette Valley produces wines that often showcase the growing season, and 2013 was one that wanted to be noticed. Starting off with great promise, early bud break and a slow, steady dry summer, 2013 was turned upside down with a disrupting six inches of rain near harvest. This introduced an immediate challenge and concern. But challenged vines and grapes typically lend promising returns in the bottle! The Colene Clemens vineyard team was able to overcome a potential lack of sugar and possible onset of disease by perfectly timing the harvest by hand – a bit late, but nonetheless optimal. The 1,747 cases produced showcase an aroma of spice and fruit with minimal undertones of cherry. The palate reveals ripe red fruits. Bring on the salmon!

Eric Chevalier 2015 Clos de la Butte Muscadet Cotes de Grand Lieu
If the name is a mouth full, just remember Melon de Bourgogne. And if that is still difficult, just think shell fish and wine!  Muscadet (the varietal), or better known in this region as Melon de Bourgogne, is great for anyone looking to try something new. This selection, a wonderful example of the varietal, comes from soils that are rich in sedimentary and igneous rock (hello, ancient seabed). The combination of soil and maritime climatic influence demand a white wine that is screaming for food from the sea. Drink this wine and try not to picture yourself on a deserted island with the ocean breeze awakening your senses. You’ve just foraged ingredients for a wonderful broth that will be met with fresh muscles harvested from the shoreline, cooked over an open fire on the beach under a full moon. Wilson… Dinner time!

Cheers, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Craig & Danielle