2008 Arizona Stronghold Mangus

Ben loves on an Arizona Strongold Mangus
  • WHO: Arizona Stronghold Vineyard
  • WHAT: 55% Cabernet Sauvignon 36% Sangiovese 9% Merlot
  • WHEN: 2008
  • WHERE: Sulphur Springs Valley near Cochise, AZ
  • HOW: Mostly neutral oak (older barrels that impart no flavor) and a few choice 2 to 3 year old French oak barrels. Around January, they rack all of the barrels once, and then pump the juice back into those same barrels. Come April/May, the blending process begins and after the blend is chosen, it is pumped into stainless steel to homogenize for a couple of months until bottling.
WHY: Arizona Stronghold set out to create a re-imagined “Super Tuscan” ending up with this label as the payoff. Mangus strikes a balance of old world poise and new world spunk. We noticed that the 2007 vintage was slightly dominated by the Sangiovese (’07: 43%, Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot 9% Cabernet Pfeffer, 3% Petite Sirah VS. ’08: 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Sangiovese, 9% Merlot) so we asked Tim White, the winemaker, about the difference in vintages. (We’re nothing if not thorough.) He explained that they just had more Cab to work with for the ’08 but would like to see the blend return to being Sangiovese-driven for subsequent vintages. The name Arizona Stronghold may also ring a bell with some of our readers, as one of the wine labels associated with famed musician Maynard James Keenan. Other affiliated wine labels also include Caduceus & Merkin. His passionate exploration of wine has been recently documented in the film, Blood Into Wine.The 2008 Mangus is a remarkable wine. Considering the rugged region in which these grapes were grown makes this accomplishment even more significant despite the more than 400 years of viticultural history in the state. We breathed in scents of buttered toast, dusty attic, and the sweetness of freshly-baked cranberry wheat bread. At the time, we expected a buttery dusty wine such as this to also have the scent of vanilla. Now, knowing that the wine bathed in mostly neutral oak, the lack of that note isn’t surprising. While not the dominant grape in the blend, their Sangiovese adds a rustic old-worldness to the wine lending to an approachable complexity on the palate. All four of us were amazed by the stand off of acid and tannin in the Mangus blend. As the wine rolls over one’s tongue, the mouth both waters and dries at the same time. This duality elicited a few “yums,” one “giggedy giggedy,” and [REDACTED] from our group.

The Wrap: Italy has something to learn from this new world interpretation of their wine. We suggest drinking this bottle with lamb kabobs, roasted red peppers, blackened anything, or gumbo. Seek out flavorful foods for this wine and take the time to decant it before pouring. Just because the wine is from Arizona doesn’t mean that anyone should feel comfortable letting the bottle heat up past 60°. This is a wine that need not be aged as it is already primed for consumption. In regards to this bottle, we were very lucky to have a sample sent to us by ASV, but we’ll be buying more in the near future. Likewise, their Nachise blend as featured in Our Top Wines of 2009 has already become a regular impulse buy.

Wine Website: http://www.azstronghold.com/


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