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Chateau Alcantara: Arizona wines in transition

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One of the big steps many wineries take is to offer a “flagship wine” (or signature wine) that represents the best of what their winemaker and vineyards can offer. And Arizona wineries are quite aware of this, with many selling these special wines on a regular basis.

This year, one particular Verde Valley winery has added more potential to their top shelf wine offering starting with the 2011 vintage. Alacantara Vineyards has introduced a possible flagship wine known simply as “Chateau Alcantara”. It features a bottle label, showing the main house/tasting room, from a painting done by design artist Smokin’ Joe McWilliams.

Although the “Confluence” has held the place as Alcantara’s official signature wine selection for 5 years running, Chateau Alcantara could become a top runner as a flagship in the future. This is because it’s quite popular with tasting room visitors, plus it’s an Arizona award winner.

At last month’s Arizona Winegrowers competition, the 2011 Chateau Alcantara took a silver medal. Not bad for any wine’s debut year, especially with increasing competition coming from all around the state.

In the taste-off, Arizona wineries are allowed to enter wines that blend in fruit from places other than Arizona. This is a good policy considering that there are so many startup wineries with young vineyards that are not quite yet producing full-bodied wines. A careful blending process is used successfully to add depth and character to a finished product that may be otherwise be years in the making.

Alcantara has been using California fruit in some of their wines since day one and each label clearly indicates the source of the fruit. With Chateau Alcantara, the label says “American Red Wine”. This is because it is a blend of Arizona and California (64% Paso Robles Cabernet & 36% Alcantara Estate Merlot to be exact).

Whatever the sourcing details are, this is an excellent wine for the price (about $40) and is a great choice to serve with a pot roast or many other meaty winter cuisines. Alcantara wines are available at most Arizona wine outlets who offer local wines for sale. This includes AJs, Whole Foods, and Bevmo. Of course, Arizona residents can also order directly from Alcantara’s website.

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