April’s Wine Club

Your April wines are here!


Que Sera, Sera, Petite Sirah!

March was an exciting month for us. If you haven’t heard, we took over the coffee shop next door to us. We changed the name to Hidden Track Café (coffee & more). We expanded the menu to include breakfast burritos, CHEESE, bread, salads, and we got a BYOB license! Did we mention CHEESE? We will slowly be adding small production, artisanal, hard to find, amazingly delicious cured meat and cheese options that we are very excited to share with our incredible downtown community (and anyone who comes to see us from beyond downtown!). And if you decide to stop over and enjoy a bottle of wine or beer, we will waive the corkage fee for all club members with the purchase of a food item!

OK, time for some Petite wine talk. Syrah vs Petite Sirah vs Shiraz, in fact. We have been asked many times about the difference between these. First, Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. The Australians call the Syrah grape Shiraz… ’cause they can! Petite Sirah is a different grape. Syrah comes from (or became notable via) the Rhône Valley in France and is a cross between two virtually extinct varietals called Dureza and Mondeuse. Exactly when Syrah was created is unknown. Petite Sirah is actually a grape called Durif. Durif was created by crossing Syrah and Peloursin sometime in the 19th century. Petite Sirah took on its name most likely because the grapes and leaves looked similar to Syrah, however, the grapes were slightly smaller.

Tasting notes for Petite Sirah and Syrah: Petite Sirah (Durif) – Big, powerful, intense wine. Inky dark purple (stain your glass stuff) with notes of blueberry, plum, and chocolate. Best to drink within 5-7 years of production as acid falls off fast. It is so dark and tannic because the grapes are a bit smaller and thus more pigment from the skins is prevalent. Syrah – Intense and elegant. Dark rich colors with notes of blackberry, blueberry, and boysenberry. Soft tannins and balanced acid. Syrah can be made to drink early or have years in the cellar.

And your April selections are…

831 Wine Company, Monterey, CA

We recently came across a small, family-operated winery that was not available in AZ called 831 Wine Company. Bob Balentine is the owner and winemaker. His goal is to showcase the sub-appellations of Monterey, CA and make world class terroir driven wines. 831 is a nod to the local area code from which the wine is sourced and made.

831 Chardonnay
Stainless steel fermented, then barrel aged in French oak for nine months. Tropical notes of citrus, pear, and pineapple with undertones of honey. Touch of spice on the finish as well.

831 Petite Sirah
We haven’t featured a Petite Sirah in the Club yet and are very excited to be able to release this selection from 831! This “Durif” is also barrel aged in French oak for nine months. It showcases ripe, balanced fruit with deep dark color. Notes of plum, dark cherry, and blueberry with accents of mocha, vanilla, and slowly escalating tannins. We know this one is going to be a hit.

Wine Club Cheese Pairing: Dalmatinac

Looking for just the right cheese to enjoy with April’s wine club? We fervently recommend Dalmatinac cheese!

  • Type: Semi-firm cow and sheep milk
  • Origin: Pag Island, Croatia
  • Aged: 4 months
  • Flavor: Buttery, toasted nut flavors with salt and herbal notes
  • Fun Fact: The Island of Pag is rocky and steep, which makes it inhospitable for cows. Sheep, however, enjoy this terrain and thus this cheese producer sources cow milk from the mainland in Croatia and ships it over to the Island to make this beautiful cheese! Pick up a slice or two from the Café when you pick up your club wines.

There’s so much NEW to talk about!

We have quite a few new releases available in the shop. Be sure to check some of these out when you pick up selections:

  • Whoa Nelly Rosé (OR)
  • Mont Gravet Rosé (FR)
  • Aradon Rosé (ESP)
  • Plus more Rosé to come this week!

And some more fun finds:

  • Herman Story “Milk and Honey” (Spring release)
  • Beekeeper Howell Mountain Zin
  • Beekeeper Rockpile Vineyard Zin
  • Phifer Pavitt “Date Night” Cab
  • Heitz Cellers Grignolino
  • Vina Borgia Garnacha
  • Louis Dressner Barbera d’Asti
  • Donnafugata Lighea

Cheers, and see you soon!

Craig & Danielle


March’s Wine Club

“March”ing along in 2017 has been fun so far…

We continue to be offered and/or find interesting selections to consider for the club. In fact, one of the offerings for March was inspired from an idea that came to us nearly a year ago when we were in Oregon. Took a couple months but we finally found what we were looking for!

Since we are “hidden” away inside the lobby of a building, we often don’t get outside to gauge the weather. However, we have become very good at figuring out weather patterns via the change in wines that people are buying. This time of year starts to bring on the “outdoor” drinking wines. And that means a transition into Rosé and white wine with diverse characteristics. Perfect options to enjoy our great weather for just a bit longer, if you know what we mean.

Some of our favorite patio sippers are the diversely textured wines of Germany, Austria, and France. The white wines that come from these regions can turn a red wine drinker into a fan of white wine with ease. Take for instance the wines coming from Alsace, France – predominantly white varietals of varying complexity, and known primarily for the region’s display of balanced mineral notes and refreshing nature. Alsace has many interesting varietals to offer. In fact, the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) is the only AOC to label according to varietal, which makes finding your Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, or Auxerrois for the patio pretty easy!

And this month’s club selections are…

EagleStone Cuvee Red 2013, Napa, CA

Every now and then we throw our arms up and shake our heads at the continuously rising price of wines from Napa. That and the fight to make an impact amongst the rising prices by increasing the alcohol levels or displaying bigger and bigger fruit notes to gain recognition with consumers. BUT on occasion we come across a Napa producer that puts together a balanced, high quality product and agrees to support a one time price for our Wine Club. And there you have it, we are able to throw in a great drinking Napa blend of Cab, Zin, Merlot, and Petit Sirah that is under 14% ABV! EagleStone honors the bald eagle on its label, just as the indigenous tribes that were first to the Napa region did in petroglyphs. And just as the eagle soars high above with a watchful eye, so does EagleStone Winery in constant search for great fruit sources!

Adelsheim Vineyards Auxerrois 2014, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, OR

Nearly a year ago we were in Oregon and walked through rows and rows of Pinot Noir vitis vinifera. We made a stop at Bjornson Vineyards, and on top of one hill we came across a couple rows of Auxerrois. We looked at each other and both agreed it would be pretty cool to offer some Auxerrois in our club. Not actually thinking it possible since very little is planted, we put the thought aside… Until a few months ago! We had a visitor stop in from Adelsheim Vineyards, and we tasted through some of his wines that are Available in AZ. He then noticed some of our vine clippings from his neck of the woods in the Willamette Valley and mentioned that he has some Auxerrois available if we like those weird/different varietals. We told him about our club, samples were arranged, and voilà! We have some Auxerrois to share! Auxerrois of origin is from Alsace, France (Germany and Austria could make claims as well). There are some distinctions of Auxerrois Blanc and Aexerrois Gris that need to be paid attention to as the Blanc from certain regions of France is actually Chardonnay and the Gris is actually Pinot Gris. And in the Cahors region, Auxerrois can mean Malbec. This month’s Auxerrois is an example of a few clones brought to Oregon from Alsace and is most closely related to Pinot Blanc. Beautiful notes of citrus and lower pronunciation of acid.


Craig & Danielle


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


December’s Wine Club

Hidden Trackers –

2016 is heading into its wonderful final holiday season! And with that, Hidden Track is completing our first full year of being open from 12-7pm Monday-Saturday! This is an amazing milestone and we want to thank all of you for your support. We truly enjoy getting to know all of you and sharing a laugh or a sip on occasion.

Club membership is growing quickly towards the 300 member mark. This is a great time to mention the club to a neighbor or friend, as we are attracting some pretty amazing offers due to our size and buying power. November’s Care Red Blend from Spain, for instance – that bottle alone retails for over $40!

As December approached and wines were being presented to us, we came across a few offers that really stood out. Our decision was becoming difficult until we realized that we had not offered a domestic Cabernet Sauvignon before. And that we had not offered a Horse Heaven Hills Vineyard selection either. We added these two facts together to solve our wine equation for December.

That being said, let’s talk a little about Horse Heaven Hills, one of our favorite AVAs in Washington. Or rather our absolute favorite AVA in WA!  Horse Heaven Hills sounds like a beautiful romance novel, but if you abbreviate it and call it Triple H, it sounds like a WWF wrestler name. Oh wait… It is! Which is perfect, as this is a great way to describe the terroir and what it produces.

Horse Heaven Hills AVA offers up a rough desert-like outer shell environment (queue the wrestler). The annual rainfall in this region is basically the same as what we get in Phoenix. Temperature shifts can see big spikes, which often limits vineyard canopy development. These tough growing conditions mean the region needs a little help to produce the quality that it does, and it finds that help in the form of ever-flowing water. Mountains provide a nice supply of water to the Columbia River Gorge. HHH runs along the Columbia River Gorge and plays influence to rolling hills, steep slopes, and directed wind currents that cut through the gorge. Take these romance novel struggles into account and Horse Heaven Hills provides the perfect storyline to produce critically acclaimed wine!

Now that you are floating down a romance novel river of wine, let’s introduce our December club selections.

Halter Ranch Grenache Blanc
Thank you, Paso Robles. Thank you, Halter Ranch. We have had such amazing feedback from a few Grenache and Garnacha selections in the club that we thought we would take this month to offer a Grenache Blanc. Yep, a white Grenache grape! Of origin, this varietal can be found regularly in the Rhône Valley in France. This means that Central and Southern California also provide an ideal growing climate for this grape. Halter Ranch does just that. Located on the west side of Paso, this all-estate, 100% sustainable project sits on top of limestone. And yippy for limestone! Hello minerality and acid, with a soft slap in the face from a feather. We would like to challenge you to a duel of “you’re awesome.”

Alder Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
As prefaced, this is the working of a great paperback romance novel. This selection will show you exactly why HHH is a favorite AVA. There are 20+ recognizable producers that put the Horse Heaven Hills name on their label. However, Alder Ridge is a smaller producer, and one that carries a big punch. It has the support from a larger supplier that allows this project to continuously turn out great products and earn the accolades to back it up. Alder Ridge has a strong history of producing 90+ pt rated cabs!

Cheers, Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Craig & Danielle