Last year's horrible weather wiped out entirely his 15 acre Pronghorn vineyard vines, which are the vines located behind the tasting room, his own plantings, the estate grapes. Luckily for him he has a partnership with the 40 acre vineyard formally known as just Dos Cabezas down by Wilcox Arizona, now called Cimarron. Who is this partnership with, only the acclaimed Oregon wine producer and vintner Dick Erath
. Not a bad partnership for a guy that started out as just a volunteer! Dos Cabezas history is interesting in that Todd purchased the winery name and eventually moved to his prime downtown Sonoita location to increase foot traffic. While Arizona Stronghold, owned by Maynard Keenan and Eric Glomski, purchased the actual vines in Wilcox. For more of Dick Erath's vineyard and history in Arizona check out his link: AZcentral
Todd has been involved in the wine from the ground to the bottle since 2002. He has always been into wine, and interested in the process of drinking wine, and knew that wine was the most interesting beverage. Then while working at a Print Shop in Phoenix (yes he is a native, big plus for me since we are few and far between) an opportunity came up to get more involved in the business of making wine and he jumped on board. He took some classes at U.C Davis to delve more into the specifics of making wine, then came down to Southern AZ looking for a break. I asked him why he choose Dos Cabezas and he explained, "They were the only ones who would take me." Interesting how that happens.
He worked the vines (as a volunteer no less) and absorbed everything he could about the entire process, and that solidified an already growing love for making wine. He soon became the winemaker after only a year. So in 2006 a chance to buy the vineyard and the winery name came along and he, his wife and his parents said, why not? They then had themselves a winery and some established grapevines to boot. And wine drinkers everywhere should be happy he did because he is making some truly great stuff. Not great for your first effort stuff, but some truly remarkable wines that will only get better as both he and the vines evolve. He is a natural.
Todd has tons of information on his website about Dos Cabezas
and it's history so if you would like to know more about him, his family, and their endevours check it out. Since he has his own distributor his wines can be found in a number of local stores, including BevMo!, AJ's fine foods
, and TotalWine
, as well as your local wine shop. He is also on a number of restaurant wine lists including FnB
in Scottsdale, where they just hosted a winemakers dinner on the 22nd of March. If you are interested in ordering a bottle, Dos Cabezas has a list of the states where they have a license for shipments on their website.
Dos Cabezas is still a boutique winery with a low production rate, but the prices are very competitive considering what a California winery would charge for the same product and production. "My wines are a great value, and unbelievably under priced for the quality you get," explains Todd. He goes on to say, "I try to give people what they pay for. We have solid wines for what we charge." I asked if he surprises people with his wines as he gets alot of visitors from out of town places like Michigan, Illinois, and other cold weather states (the busiest time of year for all the wineries is March and February aka- the snow bird migration) he said, "Yes it takes alot of people by surprise, because the stigma of low quality junk wine is still out there, it takes time to change and open minds, but you have to back it up with great wine. And that is what we are doing, not just me but as a state." And I could not agree more.
Todd uses mostly French oak barrels with some Hungarian and American depending on what favor he wants to impart in the wine. His signature wine right now is the Toscano, and the El Norte both are blends. Like most of the AZ wineries blends make up most of the bottles, just because that is what does best with our soil and hey, Kent Callaghan is doing it and having a tremendous amount of success so why reinvent the wheel. So now on to my tasting notes.
Dos Cabezas WineWorks Tasting Notes:
I will first include the winemakers notes that you receive at the winery, followed by my interpretations.
Tastings cost, $10 which includes a glass, or $5 if you have a glass from another winery - this is standard for all the wineries.
(disclosure: my tastings were provided as samples for this blog)
All but two wines on the list came from AZ grapes
1. 2010 Meskeoli New Release : 125 cases. $28.00 A co fermented blend of Viognier, Reisling, Roussanne, Picpoul Blanc, Malvasia Biance, and Muscat. This wine did some time (about 6 months) in 2 different vessels- a new 500L French oak barrel and a 600L concrete tank. Super fresh, super fun.
Nose: tropical fruit, slight citrus, good acid tingle
Taste: Creamy, sharp acid yet smooth, Viognier really adds a nice creamy backdrop to this unusual and interesting blend. A great start, made me thirsty for more!
2. 2010 Pink! New Release seasonal wine 200 cases. $18.00
: We have a new Pink again! A 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Primitivo from the Cimarron Vineyard near Wilcox. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. Intensely delicate and aromatic nose with major watermelon jolly rancher, cantaloupe and fennel flavors in the mouth. A surprisingly versatile dining companion
Nose: Rose pedals, watermelon juice, very interesting nose for sure, almost like dry leaves too.
Taste: Very interesting finish, wine changes alot in your mouth and the finish lingers on the palette. It is a dry Rose no sticky sweet junk here! You defiantly get the jolly rancher, but the Primivito gives the wine a nice juicy stone fruit mouth feel. A great picnic and summer wine. I am using this one for my 1 bottle/2 meals series.
3. 2009 Red $18.00
. The 2009 Red is mostly Grenache. a super friendly wine that is great for sharing during the holidays. Crystalline red fruits on the nose and in the mouth. Opens slowly to reveal subtle bite of darker fruits and carmel. Very textural and persistent, longing to exchange oral occupation with celebratory foods.
Nose: strawberry, slight earthy quality, with a tickle of tannin
Taste: smooth tannins, the Sangoivese helps to add alot of depth in this wine. Finish is good, would pair with so many different foods since this has just about every red grape they grow thrown in this wine. I had it with steak at a local restaurant and is held up well, and the next day I drank the leftover wine with a pork stir-fry and it was very tasty with that too. The wine also held up for three day after being opened! Huge bonus!
4. 2007 Syrah EaglePoint Ranch- Mendocino, CA $20.00 The fruit for this wine comes form out friend, grower Casey Hartlip of the Eaglepoint Ranch. WE wanted to see what is was like to work with top quality CA syrah- after 24 months in barrels we are please to share the result.
Nose: typical pretty syrah earthy like the forest floor, nice fruit bouquet as well. invites you to taste
Taste: nice and balanced, very good, but all Cali fruit.
5. 2009 Cimarron Rojo del Sol 400 cases $24.00: A new wine produced in collaboration with Dick Erath for his Cimarron label. inspired by the wines of Spain, this is a blend of 68% Tempranillo 19% Garnacha and 13% Monastrell (Mourvedre). Rudy red in the glass, spicy on the nose. Flavor of wild Oregon blueberries and strawberries bolstered by the sandy tannin.
Nose: faint nose, dirt, strawberries, hint of spice like black pepper and cloves
Taste: nice dirty wine, round, slight tannins, very nice wine, with a fabulous finish. In a word Yum!
6. 2009 Toscano New Release 435 cases $24.00: Toscano is back! After being assaulted by hungry rabbits during the winter of 2007, the Sangiovese vines at Cimarron have recovered and production is back up to normal levels. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc all from the Cimarron vineyard near Wilcox.
Nose: dirt, cedar, blueberry
Taste: great wine, I can see why it is their signature wine. It craves a nice spaghetti meal with yummy meatballs and a rich tomato sauce. It is a dirty wine (my favorite type of wine- yes if you are paying attention I do have like ten favorite wines....) with a great acid balance and a rush of blackberry at the end.
7. 2009 El Norte New Release 725 cases $24.00 : We have a new El Norte too! This version has more Syrah in the mix than El Nortes of the past. . . although it seems to be just as spicy as those. Typically this wine takes the longest to recover for the trauma of bottling - it is encouraging that this particular vintage tastes this good so soon.
Nose: very pretty, butterscotch, smoky, spicy like white pepper
Taste: good acid balance again, the Syrah plays very nicely in this blend. Again I can see why this is their signature wine. Very round and smooth, easy to drink most people will like this wine even if they are not red wine drinkers.
8. 2009 Cimarron Trimezzo 100 cases $24.00: 50% Sangiovese, 25% Aglianico, and 25% Montepulciano. No tasting notes yet. . . Winemaker not sure if he really wants to entice people to buy this wine when he enjoys drinking it so much.
Nose: strawberry, smooth, and crisp
Taste: good tannins (soft), very unique wine, loved the sangiovese as that really comes through and the berry and cedar taste of the Montepulciano play in at the finish. The Aglianico grape I am not familiar with so my guess is that it is what gives the wine it's unique and tasty flavor. Great finish. Drop me a comment if you know about the Aglianico grape.
9. 2009 La Montana 75 cases not available for sampling but I got some:) 75 cases $45.00: This is the first La Montana since 2005! A barrel blend of equal parts Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. All the grapes for this wine came from the Cimarron vineyard near Wilcox. True to the La Montana wine of the past while incorporating the evolution of our wine making style.
Nose: great earthy (think forest floor) nose with an undertone of berry fruit
Taste: All I had to do was read the grapes in this blend and I was sold! Three of my favorite put in one bottle and this wine is sheer delight! The Petit Sirah adds a lovely balance to the wine, the tannins are strong here but not overwhelming, however the wine is begging for a juicy steak or a burger. This is a solid wine with great structure and an excellent finish. Yum city!
10. 2008 Cades $22.00 : A fortified red dessert wine, blended from equal parts Graciano, Petit Verdot, and Petite Sirah with a little Viognier to keep thing interesting. The fruit for this wine came from out friend Markus Bokishch in Lodi, CA. Bottled in half bottles
Ok to be honest after tasting nine different wines (something I am not used to) my palate was a little worn down, but this was a nice finish to the tasting. The only notes I wrote where that is was a nice chewy wine that reminded me of a Port.
If Sonoita or Elgin or hey even Tucson is on your list of travels please put Dos Cabezas WineWorks on your to do list. Most likely while in the tasting room you will meet Todd. Thank you for reading and enjoy!
What AZ wines have you tried lately? Please share in the comments section. And please help support AZ wine and winemakers by passing this post along to your friends!