Flying Leap’s tiny breakthrough production helps put Arizona on the map.  

By Alicia Cuadra-Cutler

Lush vineyards are not the first thought that comes to mind for most when thinking of Arizona, but that is just what many parts are becoming. The Arizona wine-growing areas are a combination of arid deserts and high elevation mountains, and the state is fast emerging on the radar of aficionados around the country.

The history of viticulture in the area—similar to many in the surrounding states—traces its roots back to Spanish missionaries in the 16th century. Today we see a variety of grapes and wines emerging from Arizona, with a combination of Spanish varietals, somewhat obscure Bordeaux wines, and both red and white Rhones.

Flying Leap Vineyards, a winery located about 45 minutes south of Tucson, produces a combination of red and white wines. Some of the most popular wines they produce being varietals not seen widely produced on their own in California such as Tannat and Petit Verdot.

Their 2014 Spanish Fly blend is a 50/50 mix of Grenache and Graciano, aged in French oak barriques for 12 months. Both grapes in the blend are native to Spain, Grenache being widely planted around the world, and Granciano rarely seen outside of Spain. Flying Leap grows a mere half acre parcel of Graciano in southeastern Arizona, where it brings intense yields in the warm, dry microclimate and calcareous  rocky soils, producing combination of Intense dark ripe and tart fruits on the nose, black and red cherry with mulberry and spiced plum on the palate. Notes of dried orange peel, dark chocolate and black pepper, this wine would pair wonderfully with hard cheeses such as Manchego. >

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