Archive for the ‘USA’ Category


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Arizona Stronghold & Caduceus Tasting

Country: USA

Region: Various


Overview: Tasting wine to progressive metal and alternative music along side wearers of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer T-Shirts is typically uncommon in the wine world, unless of course you are like me and recently went to see the band Puscifer perform live. There is nothing better than holding wine in one hand and flashing the ‘horns’ \m/ with the other.

There are people in this world who never stop creating. Maynard James Keenan is one of those people. For those who do not know, Maynard James Keenan is the singer and frontman for Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer as well as the winemaker/owner of Caduceus wines, Arizona Stronghold wines (alongside Tim White) and Merkin Vineyards. He is a man that many people idolize but is against the hero worship of celebrities these days. With this in mind I will say that he is a man that I admire.

Maynard is not just a figure head of these wines but their creator. These wines have long been at the top of my list to taste, so with a Puscifer ticket in hand I found myself at the Jubilee Hotel in Brisbane with an appetite ready to be whet. To the soundtrack of Maynard’s voice, alongside fans of Tool, APC and Puscifer I tasted five more of Maynard’s creations.


Tasting notes:

Arizona Stronghold Mandala White 2011 (blend of Rousanne and Viognier): This take on the traditional Rhone blend has a nose of talc, jasmine and honeysuckle. The talc character carries through to the palate joined by peach, savoury spice and good texture.


Score: 16.5 out of 20


Arizona Stronghold Dala Chardonnay 2011: Vanillin oak and stone fruit on the nose. The palate is soft with hints of nectarine and some citrus.


Score: 16.5 out of 20


Arizona Stronghold Magnus 2011 (blend of Sangiovese/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc): A bouquet of sweet cherry and cinnamon. Cherry and spice on the palate with undertones of pepper and savoury spice. Finishes with grainy tannins and a touch of game.


Score: 17.5 out of 20


Arizona Stronghold Dala Cabernet Sauvignon 2011: Cassis, plum and blackberry aromas. Initially quite plush on the palate with fruit characters of blackberry and plum but menthol and soft tannins add an extra layer of complexity. Great balance.


Score: 17.5 out of 20


Arizona Stronghold Mandala Red 2010 (blend of Cinsault/Syrah/Petit Syrah/Counoise/Grenache/Viognier): A veritable fruit salad but essentially a Rhone Valley style blend with a nose of macerated cherries and tobacco. Cherry, plum and savoury spice flavours on the palate.


Score: 16 out of 20


Caduceus Anubis 2010 (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Syrah/Syrah): A robust nose of cassis and plum with a full bodied palate boasting characters of plum, blackberries, spice and cedar with grippy tannins and persistent finish.


Score: 17.5 out of 20


Final Say: The gig scored 19 out of 20, they may be more esoteric than Tool and APC but they know how to do a live show. These wine are hard to find in Australia, if you are interested visit:  



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Eroica Riesling 2008

By Spitting: Optional

Variety: Riesling

Region: Columbia Valley, USA


Overview: I’ve noticed this wine springing up here and there receiving great write ups, 94 points from America’s Wine & Spirits magazine, 93 points from Wine Enthusiast, 91 from Wine Advocate and 90 Points from Wine Spectator, just to name a few so I thought I should pick up a bottle for myself. The reason why I found this wine intriguing is that it not only from the Columbia Valley in America but also because it is a collaboration of Chateau Ste. Michelle, a Washington producer and the famed German winemaker Ernst Loosen, known for the Dr. Loosen wines from Mosel. Riesling has had a tough life, it is one of the most underrated varieties mainly because it has been mistreated over the years, in the 60’s and 70’s it was blended with just about every other white variety in existence eg, Traminer/Riesling, I’m not quite sure why, maybe just to get it in the mouths of everyday wine drinkers and then went through a period of popularity but not because of its character, cellaring potential and perfect balance but because it could be made into a sweet wine. You can ask anyone now who was in the height of their drinking age in the 80’s if they would like to try a Riesling and they would say, ‘Oh no, I don’t like sweet wine’ but the fact is that most Australian and Alsatian Rieslings are dry. Germanic styles are sweeter but perfectly balanced. All I can say is ‘Damn you Blue Nun!’

Tasting Note: The initial character I picked up on the nose was orange sherbet, this follows through to the palate and is joined by flavours of green apple, clean minerality, lime juice and a lingering saltiness. Yes, saltiness, chloride can be found in grapes. It finishes with a lovely, linear acidity.

Final Say: I have to say, I was intrigued by this wine and have been chomping at the bit to try it. It lives up to the hype however I did find the saltiness interesting. Australian Rieslings in particular tend to have a higher chloride component to the grape which has found them often criticized by lovers of international Rieslings. I find the saltiness adds another mouth watering sensation to the wine. There is a touch of residual sugar in this wine but nowhere as near as sweet as a Kabinett Riesling. I picked mine up for $45 a bottle and it’s a perfect match with pork.

Score: 18 Freakin’ awesome, keep the collaboration going! (90 out of 100)        

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Jack Davis

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