Proper wine tasting takes place using these three senses in order: sight (“appearance”), smell (“nose”), and taste (“palate”). The way the wine looks as it is poured from the bottle, as it rests and swirls in the glass, and as it is held to the light can give you clues as to its age, level of tannins, alcohol content, and flavor profile. After observing a wine—and swirling it in your glass—you are ready to smell it. Doing so may confirm your visual observations, reveal how it was aged, and further prepare you for its taste. Finally you get to taste it. Is it tannic, sweet, dry, bitter, sour? How does it feel in your mouth? Do you like it?
If you are interested in a wine that will arouse all of those senses in a unique way then let us introduce you to the 2019 Merkin Vineyards (Caduceus Cellars) Shinola Orancia from Arizona’s Willcox AVA. It is our February wine of the month. This 100% Malvasia Bianca is an Italian white varietal grown at 4,300 feet in Cochise County. Smartly presented in a clear bottle, you first start tasting this wine before it is ever poured.
The orange hue is intriguing; something you’ve never seen before. This occurs because of the 10-day maceration on the skin. You expect there to be notes of citrus on the palate. It appears slightly lighter in the glass than in the bottle and exhibits good viscosity when swirled. On the nose Orancia surprises you with tropical fruits: papaya and mango...not citrus. There is also a floral component. Not a hint of oak, which makes sense, given that it was fermented in stainless steel.
On the palate you experience crisp, restrained fruit with a pleasantly bitter finish. What you might expect to be an overwhelming fruit bomb based on your sight and smell is a deftly structured wine that should age well for a white. It’s thoroughly enjoyable. Owner and winemaker (and Renaissance man) MJ Keenan, of the bands Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer is a descendant of Northern Italian winemakers and the effort and skill he applies as a vintner is truly notable. Perhaps what we appreciated most about his Shinola Orancia is that it’s a wine that keeps you on your toes; from sight, to smell, to taste it delivers the unexpected. It is a wine to be experienced. Our readers know that we love wine that exceeds its price point. The 2019 Merkin Vineyards (Caduceus Cellars) Shinola Orancia is only $20. This is an amazing value, and when you consider what the wine delivers, it was an easy choice as our February wine of the month. When you order yours make sure you tell them Peninsula Underground sent you.