When we heard that Flagstaff, Arizona-based wine reviewer and writer John Vankat, wine columnist for the Arizona Daily News and Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, was looking to sample wines made from uncommon or lesser known grapes, we debated sending him the 2021 Helios Seyval Blanc. Shipping wine to Arizona in the middle of summer is no small (or inexpensive) feat, after all.
But when Sara noticed that John’s email address was from none other than Miami University, it was a no brainer. John was a Professor of Botany at Miami University, where he taught and researched plant ecology for 31 years prior to his move to Arizona. Dave is a Miami U. business degree graduate, so he never crossed paths with John, but that Redhawks connection was compelling enough for us to give it a shot. Fortunately, John was equally enticed by the Miami connection, and agreed to review the wine.
John included mention of Helios as a “fine selection in the $30-$40 range” in his Arizona Daily News column, as well as in Mountain Living Magazine, writing: “Popular wine grapes such as Chardonnay and Merlot are familiar to all wine drinkers, but lesser known grapes greatly add to the enjoyment and adventure of wine and often deliver higher quality for the same or even lower price. Here are my suggestions for very appealing wines made from less familiar grapes.”
Although his tasting notes were not included in either article, John graciously shared his impressions of 2021 Helios:
“Very interesting, appealing wine; good color depth; strong, complex nose; best on palate with good to very good strength, intensity, full body, excellent complexity, very good integration and refinement, very strong personality, excellent length. Pairs very well with food, as it doesn’t overwhelm.”