An odd dirty minty nose, weedy and flush with hi-note cinnamon and licorice. And I know we use cinnamon and licorice often in reviews of cab, but this is a different sort. Literally like cinnamon powder, like Red Hots of cinnamon-flavored taffy or such. Beyond that, the nose runs quite earthy with a touch of new tennis-shoe rubber and, thankfully, deep dark ripe fruit.

It tastes better than it smells, and like the local cab from a couple nights ago, lean and lithe. Great black cherry, blackberry and bitter herb, but in a package considerably thinner than anything from California–even entry-level supermarket stuff. Gratingly dry and acidic, it woos me with a Bordeaux Superieur-esque lean-ness and acidic definition.

I’m wondering why these wines lack concentration. Unlike any other warm-weather region I have dabbled in, these cabs are thin. THIS IS NOT A BAD THING (well, some people will read it and think it a bad thing, but not I or the wine1%) JUST HAVING A CONVERSATION ABOUT STYLE. Is it the soil? Is it the climate? Is it the style of wine they want to make? Are they making light, reasonable reds to appeal to the tourist tasting room trade? Here’s the deal: Every other burgeoning wine region shooting for the tourist stars makes wines massive and giant for the same reason: because the 99 WANT massive alcoholic jammy wines. And here, the wines–albeit with a few *interesting* situations going on (mostly in bouquet) run light and bright. I COMPLETELY expected massive conglomerates of stand-a-fork-up-in-it levels, and here I am drinking light, bright, seductively-fruited wines in the middlenof the desert. And the alcohols are not excessive! Is it the elevation? (like 2-3-4000 feet!) Is it degree-days? Or are we back to soil? When this fruit achieves ripeness, is it thin-skinned and shallow? Is it physically incapable of standing up to the types of primaries going on all over the new world?

Another perfectly satisfying, inexpensive, food-friendly Cabernet ordered off a local resty list with absolutely no complaints. These wines are unlike anything I have had. And they’re good.

2016 ARIZONA STRONGHOLD Cabernet Sauvignon Wilcox Arizona 13.5

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