Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Ethiopia and Mexico

My neighbor and his coworkers constantly travel all over the world.  They bring back wine from the countries they visit and from time to time they get together to share them.  This past weekend I met up them where I was surprised by the quality of the 2016 Castel Winery, Chardonnay, Cuvee Prestige, Rift Valley, Ethiopia.  Castel Winery was founded in 2007 by French billionaire Pierre Castel with 2012 first vintage produced from these Ethiopian vines.  Though the winemaking is still young at the winery, there is clearly expertise and investment behind this effort.  Tasted blind, I would have never thought this Ethiopian.  Whether there is a particularly terroir to be found in the glass, I do not know, but the curious will be tickled.  Across the globe to Mexico hailed the bottle of 2013 Vinicola Mundano, Syrah, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico.  The savory nature and racy quality certainly impress but I was ultimately distracted by the overripe fruit flavors. An interesting evening!

2016 Castel Winery, Chardonnay, Cuvee Prestige, Rift Valley, Ethiopia
Alcohol 13%.  White fruit, some grip, and a toast note throughout.  A drier style but all is in balance with fresh acidity.  Carefully made, no faults at all.  ** Now – 2021.

2013 Vinicola Mundano, Syrah, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Alcohol 13.5%.  The ample body takes on savory, mineral notes through the finish.  Almost racy with attractive mouth feel.  It would be rather impressive but the fruit has crossed into overripe territory reminding me of raisins. *(*) Now but will last.

Drinks from the holiday weekend


There was no shortage of grilled food and wine this Memorial Day weekend.  Thanks to many generous people I got to try decades worth of wine.  An inexpensive bottle of NV L.A. Cetto Vino Espumoso from Baja California enlivened a lunchtime sangria.   The first serious wine is a magnum of 2006 Macarico, Aglianico del Vulture which smelled and tasted great from the very first pour.  It still has strength but the tannic edges are receding such that you notice the dark fruit and minerals.  I wish I could age more of these wines.  The 1998 Chapoutier, Hermitage Monier de La Sizeranne showed much better oak integration than when tasted last summer.  It is a substantial wine with a long future.  The 1971 M. Mascarello, Nebbiolo d’Alba held up for several hours after double-decanting.  It was sweaty on the nose, in an attractive old-school way to me, but better in the mouth with lively acidity and a core of flavor.


The 1971 M. Mascarello helped show how a 1976 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape was even fruitier with notes of old wood.  It made for a perfectly good drink.  I will follow this post with a real tasting note.  The magnum of 2007 Domaine Ponsot, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Cuvee des Alouettes showed on the elegant side of the spectrum with very clean fruit.  Other drinks include a 2003 Le Vieux Donjon, Chateauneuf du Pape that is youthful and packs quite a lot of forward fruit.


Roland opened a slew of bottles including 1990 Alain Graillot, La Guiraude, Crozes-Hermitage.  This wine is made from a selection of the best barrels and is certainly the oldest Crozes-Hermitage that I have tasted.  This was still clean and fresh with that sense of lightness a Crozes can offer.  It was almost suspended in time.


The 2007 Henri Bonneau, Chateauneuf du Pape was quite tight right after double-decanting.  Nevertheless a few minutes of swirling coaxed an elegant wine.  It has quite a bit of focus and certainly more heft than the ethereal Marie Beurrier can have.  The 2001 Domaine Bois De Bourson, Chateauneuf du Pape showed great right out of the decanter.  It is drinking near peak with earthy flavors and garrigue delivered with grip.  A pour from the end of the 1990 Jamet, Cote Rotie provided a really good glass.  There was an aspect of elegance to the maturing and complex flavors.


The 1994 Chateau de Fonsalette, Cotes du Rhone drank quite well.  This is a generous Rayas wine made from Syrah.  It is floral with dark blue fruit, wood notes, and good complexity.


I also tried a surprisingly savory, dense, and fruity bottle of 1996 Chateau Ste Michelle, Merlot Reserve, Columbia Valley.  This came from a mediocre vintage and if this took a toll on the wine it was only that the finish was a bit short.  This wine was made under David Lake MW which probably explains why it is still balanced and lively.  There is not much Charbono around so you should try whatever you can.  The 2011 Calder Wine Company, Charbono, Meyer Vineyard, Napa Valley is still not up to the quality of the 2009 vintage but it reveals vintage perfume unique to the grape.


As for dessert wines the half-bottle of 1983 Zilliken, Saarburger Rausch Riesling Eiswein contained only 7% alcohol.  The undoubtedly high levels of residual sugar were perfectly balanced by the acidity.   It is really easy to drink and is entering the middle of life.  Finally, a double-decanted 1977 Warre’s, Vintage Port needed just a little air before showing dense flavors of dark blue, racy fruit. Good stuff!  There were some other wines I tried but I did not get a look at the bottles.

Three wines from New Mexico, Mexico, and Greece

December 22, 2014 1 comment

One really should be curious when it comes to trying wines.  We bought the 2009 Gruet Winery, Pinot Noir, New Mexico several years ago after trying an even older, well-preserved example. It may seem surprising at first to find Pinot Noir in New Mexico but do remember that Gruet is famous for their sparkling wines, of which Pinot Noir plays a part.  Our bottle showed a lot of oak influence on the nose followed by primary cherry fruit in the mouth.  This is a solid drinking wine that would be great fun to serve blind at the beginning of a tasting or dinner.   From Mexico, the latest vintage of 2010 L.A. Cetto, Petite Sirah, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California offered solid, modern flavors of dense black fruit.  This bottle took a few days to show well which is not surprising given the grape variety.  Again, not a mind-blowing wine but another fun wine to serve blind.  I would personally be curious to see how it tastes several years from now.  The 2012 Aivalis Wines, Agiorgitiko, Nemea offers plummy, dry, and powerfully structured flavors.  The wine is a bit disjointed right now so stick it in the cellar for a year or two.  It you must try a bottle now (and most likely in the future) then be sure to accompany it by a big hunk of meat.  The L.A. Cetto and Aivalis wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.  The Gruet was purchased at the winery.


2009 Gruet Winery, Pinot Noir, New Mexico –
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir that was aged for 16+ months in oak barrels.  Alcohol ?%.  The color was a medium+ red cherry with some garnet.  There were good wood aromas on the notes, some sweet spices, and leather.  In the mouth were cherry fruits in this balanced wine.  The flavors were simple and shorter though the wine has kept well.  Eventually a fruity blue and red core came out.  No need to hold on but will last for years to come.  ** Now-2017.


2010 L.A. Cetto, Petite Sirah, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California – $10
Imported by International Spirits & Wines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There were low-lying heady aromas of tart fruit.  In the mouth were dense, inky flavors, some ripe, powdery tannins, and fruit that turned blacker. Needs a little time in the cellar.  *(*) 2015-2018.


2012 Aivalis Wines, Agiorgitiko, Nemea – $16
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is 100% Agiorgitiko that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in 30% new and 70% used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose remained plummy.  In the mouth were plummy, black fruit flavors that were dry.  The acidity was salivating at first then dry, dark tannins came out towards the finish.  The structure is rather strong in comparison to the fruit.  The finish bore dark fruit that seemed separate from the structure in the end.  Needs time to integrate.  *(*) 2016-2019.


Three Alternative Wines

Today’s post features wines from Mexico and Croatia.  The 2010 Vinicola L.A. Cetto, Petite Sirah is an improvement over the 2008 vintage which I tasted almost two years ago.  It is a solid wine for the price and worth trying if you want something affordable and different or you have never tried a Mexican wine.  The pair of Trapan wines represent further offerings from The Balkan Wine Project.  Of the two, the 2012 Trapan, Ponente was my favorite.  It had an interesting combination of tropical flavors, waxiness, some vibrancy and texture.  It is reasonably priced and may be drunk over several days.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2010 Vinicola L.A. Cetto, Petite Sirah, Valle de Guadalupe – $10
Imported by International Spirits and Wines LLC.  This wine is 100% Petite Sirah.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium purple ruby.  In the mouth there were grapey flavors of purple and black fruit.  The flavors were somewhat lifted with a grapey middle, some ripe tannins, and a moderately ripe level of personality.  The wine became a little savory with air.  It has strength and ruggedness.  ** Now-2016.


2012 Trapan, Ponente, Istria – $16
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Malvazija sourced from vines planted in 2005 which was fermented and aged in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light straw yellow.  The subtle nose first had aromas of skin contact, waxy, and nutty.  In the mouth the wine was slightly vibrant with lively fruit at first, stones, and some tropical white fruit in the middle.  It was almost creamy before the texture picked up leaving a waxy impression in the aftertaste.  It held up well in the refrigerator.  ** Now-2016.


2011 Trapan, Terra Mare, Istria -$26
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Teran sourced from vines planted in 2005 which was aged for 12 months in used French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose revealed a combination of different aromas, wood notes, and vanilla.  In the mouth there was moderately focused fruit, firm and tart, with red and black flavors.  The wine tastes wood aged with the fruit existing within the structure.  There were vanilla notes and sweetness but not too much.  After the middle there were drying flavors and a little vibrancy on the tongue.  This modern wine finished with a vanilla note.  ** Now-2016.


A Fun Wine from Villa Montefiori, Mexico

Vineyard, Image from Villa Montefiori

As soon as I spotted this bottle of Mexican red wine I grabbed it.  In 1985 Paolo Paoloni came to Mexico to work for Bodega LA Cetto.  A decade later the Paoloni family founded Villa Montefiori.  The family itself originates from Le Marche, Italy.  In 1998 they planted the estate with Italian and French varietals.  The first released vintage was 2005.  I rather enjoyed drinking this wine and I recommend that you give it a try.  I do not see to many Mexican wines for sale in the Washington, DC area and while that alone is enough reason to pick up a bottle, there really is serious effort put into this wine.  There is a touch too much sweetness in the fruit for my preferences but beyond that there are many attractive qualities to this wine.  I would be curious to read what you think.  This selection is currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2008 Villa Montefiori, Cabernet-Sangiovese, Valle de Guadalupe, Vaja California – $20
Imported by Southern Wine Group Imports.  This wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Sangiovese which was aged for 10 months in new and used French oak barrels.  There is a nose of blue and black fruit with a lifted sweetness and eventually floral greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there are soft and ripe red fruit which makes way to racy black fruit and licorice, along with a touch of tartness and sweet spices.  There is a nice coating of minerally black fruit on the lips.  Tilting towards sweet this is a fun wine with good weight.  ** Now-2015.

We Take A Break From Continental Europe

September 22, 2011 1 comment

Vineyard in Valle de Guadalupe, LA Cetto, Image by eltono (flickr)

I always find it fun to shake things up and drink outside of our usual regions.  I was looking forward to the L.A. Cetto from Mexico but this was not a good wine.  It had been years since I drank one of their wines  but what I do remember is that they were enjoyable.  At this price point it is worth trying a different selection.  The Camberley is a decent value but somewhat uninteresting.  The Yves Leccia from Corsica is certainly worth a try if you have never drunk a Corsican wine but it is a bit over priced.  The big surprise was the Dr. Konstantin Frank Chardonnay from New York!  This is a cool climate Chardonnay that might appeal to those willing to venture away from bigger styles.  At $15 it is a strong value and a wine that everyone should try.

A Vineyard In Corsica, Image by there2roam (flickr)

The L.A. Cetto was purchased for $12 at The Wine Cellar/Exxon gas station in Ocean City, MD.  The Yves Leccia is imported by Kermit Lynch and purchased for $20 at MacArthurs.  The Camberley Prohibition was purchased for $15-$20 at MacArthur’s.  The Dr. Konstantin Frank was purchased for $15 at Wegmans in Fairfax, VA.

2008 L.A. Cetto, Petit Sirah, Baja California
This wine is 100% Petit Sirah that was aged for six months in French barriques.  Unfortunately, not so good.  Very forward, jammy, overtly fruity wine.  I could not drink it but Jenn enjoyed a glass. * Now.

2009 Domaine d’E Croce (Yves Leccia), Cuvee YL, Corsica
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Nielluciu that was fermented and aged for 12 months in stainless steel.  This has pine-sol notes of pine and lemon to the tooty-fruity red aromas.  In the mouth the hard red flavors had some texture in this light to medium-bodied wine.  There are some blue fruits that mix with hints of minerals as the wine becomes lifted.  Fine+ tannins come out in the finish and aftertaste. ** Now-2015.

2006 Camberley, Prohibition, Stellenbosch
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 28 months.  Of the 14 barrels that were aged, four were used for the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and the remaining 10 for the Prohibition.  This was dark with a nose of eucalyptus and graphite.  In the mouth the dark, sour fruits mixed with tart acidity and continued into the dark, steely aftertaste.  There were minimal tannins.  Needs more verve. ** Now.

2008 Dr. Konstantin Frank, Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Finger Lakes
This is 100% Chardonnay where a portion of free-run juice was fermented in French oak barrels with the rest in stainless steel vats.  It was aged for ten months in barrel.  On the second night there was a nice, lifted nose of rich fruit.  In the mouth the medium weight fruit had a soft attack followed by flinty qualities.  The fruit was apple-like with some heft, a bit of sweet spice, and green apple-like acidity.  Actually quite pleasing. *** Now.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Vineyard, Image by bobindrums (flickr)

New World Versus France Tasting, 27th Oct 1992

October 27, 1992 1 comment

New World Versus France Tasting, 27th October 1992



It is wine that gently warms and opens.
Most promising business with the future.

1 Chardonnay
A) New World, Oakwood, Australia, 4.40 Pounds.  Much more sun.  Similar appearance.  Full bodied “buttery.”  Strong in front dies quickly.
B) French, South Bordeaux, 4.40 Pounds.  Similar appearance. Delicate bouquet, cleaner taste.  I prefer this one.

2 Sauvignon Blanc
A) New World, Jackson Estate, New Zealand, April 1991, 7.00 Pounds.  “Black currants”, “goose berries.”  Strong, fuller, sweeter.  Prefer this one.
B) French, Central Vineyards Noir, 1990, 6.85 Pounds.  Aftertaste lingers, creamier.

3 Cabernet Sauvignon
A) Southern France, French, 3.11 Pounds.  Purple, first color, quite young.  A far amount of tannin.  Spicey.
B) New World, Chile, 3.35 Pounds.  Darker than 1st.  I prefer this one.

4 Syrah
A) New World, Mexico, 1988, 4.70 Pounds.  Pepper, smooth.  Prefer.
B) French, 1989, 5.20 Pounds.  Too peppery.

5 Pinot Noir
A) New World, South Africa, 1988, 6.50 Pounds.
B) France, Burgundy, 1988, 6.50 Pounds.  Prefer color.  Delicate.  Prefer