First off, congrats to Arizona winemaker Kent Callaghan. His Back Lot Cuvee 2001 made Food & Wine magazine’s list of top 10 non-California "All-American" wines in the November 2003 issue.
Callaghan Vineyards in tiny Elgin is the pride of Arizona wine country. Their Buena Suerte Cuvee, it’s been oftreported, has been served at the White House. You can visit www.callaghanvineyards.com for information on the wine and directions to their tasting room.
And don’t overlook another of my Arizona favorites, Dos Cabezas. The Wine Spectator gave them high marks for their 2001 La Montana blend (88 points) and their 2001 cabernet sauvignon (86 points). Go to www.doscabezaswinery.com for more great reviews. Ask for Arizona wines at your local independent wine shop or AJ’s Fine Foods.
Also, check out more Arizona wine at the Kokopelli Winery, 35 W. Boston St., Chandler. From 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, you can buy custom gift baskets on the spot. The winery also sells sparkling wine bottles hand-painted with holiday themes ($20), which can be personalized with names and dates. While you’re there, grab a nosh plate or lunch and a glass of wine; or have dinner until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call (480) 792-6927 for more information.
Here are more December wine events:
• Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar at DC Ranch, 20753 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, presents Hip holidays: Tie and Wine Sampler, 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, to showcase the new J. Garcia wines inspired and named for Garcia and featuring his paintings on the labels. The Jerry Garcia line of ties will also be on display. $40 plus tax and tip. (480) 538-8000; reservations required.
• AZ Wine Co., 2515 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, hosts free tastings Wednesdays and Fridays; all run 5 to 6:30 p.m. Today: Chateau Souverain; Friday: Rust Ridge (winemaker will be present). Call (480) 423-9305 for more events.
• Lon’s at the Hermosa, 5532 North Palo Cristi, Paradise Valley, hosts wine tastings 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays featuring a different wine or region weekly. Order a glass or flight of three to five wines (selection prices vary) and enjoy them with crackers, cheese, fruit and charcuterie. Also, chef Fernando Divina pairs a three-course tasting menu to complement wines chosen by sommelier Scott Casey. Dinners start at $45 without wine pairings or $75 with pairings. Upcoming themes: Today — merlot; Dec. 17 — syrah and shiraz; Dec. 24 — meritage and blends; Dec. 31 — sparkling wines, cava and Methode Champenoise. (602) 955-7878.
• My Wine Cellar, 5030 E. Warner Road, Phoenix, hosts a free Laurent Perrier champagne tasting 5 p.m. today. Also, meet Marc Mondavi, winemaker for Charles Krug, 6 p.m. Dec. 18; free. They also have free tastings 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and serve Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They have free tastings 5 p.m. Wednesdays; tastings at 6 p.m. Fridays are $10. Friday: Flora Springs. Call for themes and nightly dinner specials at Lucy’s Cafe. (480) 598-9463.
• Sun Devil Liquors, 235 N. Country Club Drive, Mesa, will host several tastings in December; all run 6 to 8 p.m. and cost $5. Today: Fuentespina (Spain); Thursday: Stelzner Wines; Friday: Kenwood Artist/Jack London Wines and Sami Claus beers; Saturday: Holiday wines; Dec. 17: DeRose Wines; Dec. 18: KJ Grand Reserve single vineyards; Dec. 19: Ironstone Reserves and Polish beers; Dec. 23: Holiday wines. Buy two bottles from the event and receive $5 off one bottle. (480) 834-5050.
• Village Wine Cellar, 8877 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, hosts free tastings Wednesdays and Fridays noon to 7 p.m. Today: Italian wines. Friday: Australian wines. Also, 6 to 7 p.m Dec. 18, they’re hosting an in-store Riedel wine glass tasting; $75. Includes gift pack of three glasses: Bordeaux Grand Crux, Burgundy Grand Cru and Montrachet (suggested retail price on set is $237). Limited to 15 people; reservations required. (480) 556-8989.
• House Wines, 7001 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, holds wine tastings every Thursday for $10. Dec. 18: Champagne. They also feature live music 7 to 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday in December. (480) 922-3470.
• Grapeables Fine Wines, 12645 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills, will have an open house and art show 1:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday; taste 10 wines; $10. They also hold tastings 6:30 p.m. Fridays for $12, unless otherwise noted; includes appetizers; reservations required. Friday: Brown bag night; Dec. 19: 47 Million Bubbles, $20; Dec. 26 Wines from Tuscany; Jan. 2: Wines from Down Under. (480) 816-5959.
• Village Tavern, 8787 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, is hosting free Champagne and sparkling wine tastings 4:30 to 6 p.m. Dec. 17 and 30. Dec. 17: BV Winery; Dec. 30: Dom Perignon, Banfi and Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial. (480) 951-6445.
• Red Kangaroo Wines, 3305 W. Chandler Blvd., No. 9, Chandler, will host a tasting 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday featuring Sarah & Sparky Marquis wines, $30. Also, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 18, taste Penfold’s Grange, $75. This wine sells for $265 per bottle and has received 99 points out of 100 by Robert Parker and Wine Spectator. Other high-end Australian wines will be tasted as well. Reservations required for both events. (480) 705-7131.