Tag Archives: Tombstone

The Fine Wines of Tombstone

2 Jan


Having spent the past 2 weeks in tasting rooms from Napa to Santa Barbara to Temecula to the Sonoita Arizona AVA, I was not expecting to encounter wines of commensurate quality and character in Tombstone…  And then I found Silver Strike Winery!

In the heart of historic Tombstone, Silver Strike is just steps away from the famous OK Corral and maintains an old-west feel and a comfortable ambiance.  And the wine is (really!) outstanding.   The varietals and blends here are mostly made from grapes grown in America’s newest Viticulture Area – the Willcox AVA, which was just certified in October 2016.  As in the Sonoita AVA about 50 miles to the west, the Willcox vineyards produce excellent Mediterranean grape varieties.  Like Sonoita, the vineyards are quite southerly in latitude, but at almost a mile high in elevation they offer a combination of warm, sunny days and very cool nights.  In addition, the arid climate stresses the vines which helps bring about more intensive flavors in the grapes.

Owners and winemakers Jann and Hank Bengel take great pride in their wine making, using biodynamically grown grapes and all natural wine-making processes, with NO added sulfites.  The resulting wines are complex, smooth and balanced.  I would love to see their Cab or Zin-Syrah blend sent in to Robert Parker or Wine Spectator; I bet they would score over 90 points.  Assistant Winemaker Brittany was manning the Tasting Room when I visited, and she was a wealth of knowledge regarding the viticulture and oenology behind the wines.  She finished the tasting session by offering their deep, rich 5 year old Syrah based Port, which is fortified with an Italian brandy and worth every penny of the $100 per bottle cost.  Other wines that stood out:

  • 2013 Big Bore. This Sangiovese is light in body and color, and more complex than many young Sangiovese varietal wines.  Aroma and flavor notes of strawberry and sour cherry, with a touch of pepper on the back pallet.  8.5/10
  • 2013 Deep Core Cab. This was the first wine that really surprised me.  The fresh burst of cassis and dark plum is beautifully balanced with round tannins and low acidity.  Delicious on its own but would pair very well with roast meats.  9/10
  • 2013 Tempest. A Tempranillo in the Rioja style.  Aged in raw French Oak with surprising complexity, there are clear notes of dark berries, plum and white pepper with a medium finish of soft tannins and leather.  9/10
  • Zinful Ways. 78% Zinfandel and 22% Petite Sirah.  This medium bodied ruby wine blew me away with its depth of flavor.  Berry jam on the nose, red and black berries and spice on the palate and a beautiful long finish. 9+

All in all, the Silver Strike tasting room and wines could proudly stand on their own in any winemaking region in California.