Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico’

Albania, New Mexico (by way of Arizona), and Texas

I am naturally curious about many things and as this blog is chronicle of my daily interest in wine, rather than a focused critique, I found myself purchasing three wines from Albania, New Mexico, and Texas. I do know that I might be better off at times purchasing my favorite $13 Cotes du Rhone but my curiosity is driving.  Of the three wines in this post the 2011 Kantina Arbëri, Kallmet, Mirdite, Albania has the most potential. I liked the dark fruit, tar, and minerals.  The 2012 Caduceus Cellars, Merkin Vineyards, Chupacabra, New Mexico is another effort from Maynard James Keenan’s Arizona based Caduceus Cellar.  The firm fruit, acidity, and structure all go hand in hand but it needs some short-term aging to open up.   I do not know how it will develop but it tastes like it was intended too.  Finally, the 2013  McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas keeps with previous vintages by being a soft wine to drink right away. The Kantina Arbëri was purchased at MacArthur Beverages and the other wines at Sherry’s Wine and Spirits.


2011 Kantina Arbëri, Kallmet, Mirdite, Albania – $16
Imported by  Winebow.  This wine is 100% Kallmet. Alcohol 13.9%. The nose bore dark fruit and tar. The flavors in the mouth were black, fresh and dry with both a leather note and earthy hint. The wine became lively towards the finish with noticeable drying structure. With air the wine develop black minerals, texture, and a little tart flavor that went with the salivating acidity. An enjoyable wine but in the end the structure might soon overpower the fresh, black fruit. ** Now-2017.


2013  McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas – $18
This wine is a blend of 49% Carignan, 40% Mourvedre, and 11% Viognier that was fermented and aged in stainless steel.   Alcohol 13.9%.  The wine had a rounder mouthfeel with initial flavors of tart red and black fruit. The flavors became sweeter with integrated acidity and minimal structure. What structure there was became noticeable in the back end. * Now.


2012 Caduceus Cellars, Merkin Vineyards, Chupacabra, New Mexico –
This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 14% Petit Sirah that was aged in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 13.7%.  This carried firm fruit, good acidity and length. The cranberry red fruit had an integrated structure of spiced tannins. The oak is still noticeable with its barrels notes and tannins on the gums. There was a bit of an aftertaste. ** Now-2018


Drinking two wines from Milagro Vineyards in New Mexico

December 30, 2014 3 comments

It was only a couple years ago that I started trying local wines during my visits to New Mexico.  In my limited experience I have found the wines of Milagro Vineyards to be savory and weighty.  The 2009 Milagro Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon is decisively weighty with bell pepper, green house notes, and vintage perfume.  It has surprising heft for the relatively low alcohol level.  It is not my style of wine but does remind me of some younger wines from Virginia and I have no doubt there are plenty of fans.  The 2010 Milagro Vineyards, Syrah offered cleaner fruit, tartness, and a hint of minerals.  I still think that Syrah is a strong variety for New Mexico and if you have never had a wine from this state, you cannot go wrong with this one. These wines were purchased at Jubilation Wine & Spirit in Albuquerque.


2009 Milagro Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon – $25
This wine is Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 21 months in French oak.  Alcohol 12.3%.  The color was an older looking light to medium garnet.  The nose revealed fresh, moist bell pepper aromas.  In the mouth was a rounded start to the weighty, black fruit.  There were ripe, almost chewy tannins that were in balance.  The wine finished with vintage perfume, green house notes, and a sweet fruit aftertaste.  Becomes more weighty and savory with air.  * Now.


2010 Milagro Vineyards, Syrah – $28
This wine is Syrah that was aged for 21 months in French oak. Alcohol 13.9%.  This was the most weighty and rounded of the two with savory, clean fruit.  There was a hint of racy black fruit, a little greenhouse note, and a generally clean nature.  There were tart red fruit hints at the back sides of the tongue and a hint of hard minerals.  ** Now-2016.


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.


A Glass Before Leaving Albuquerque

After watching a Guy Fieri video for Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives we decided to stop by the Standard Diner on Central for our last meal. Of course we had the Country Fried Tuna amongst others dishes. Having just finished spitting some dozen wines at Gruet Winery (more on that later) I was in the mood for a glass of wine. I did not drink much New Mexican wine this trip so I decided to give a glass from Milagro Vineyards a go. I ordered a glass of Zinfandel from the 2007 vintage but ended up with the 2009. Perhaps a bit too raisined for my preference, it would none the less be perfect with one of the hamburgers. I have not rated the wine since I do not know when it was opened.

2009 Milagro Vineyards, Zinfandel – ~$9 per glass
The color was light to medium garnet-ruby. The light+ nose was of dark, pruned fruit. In the mouth there were darker fruit flavors in this medium bodied wine. There was some concentration and acidity to carry things along. The raisin-like flavors expanded in the finish where things tightened up a bit. There was enough acidity in the end to prick things up a bit. There were medium, ripe-ish tannins. I would drink this now or over the short-term.

A Mountain Top Tasting

Dominating the skyline east of Albuquerque are the Sandia Mountains. It is possible to take the Sandia Peak Tramway, recently the world’s second longest, up to the peak. The 15 minute ride takes one from 6,559 feet in elevation up to 10,378 feet. With temperatures averaging 20 F cooler than the city it is an ideal location to escape the summer’s heat for a wine tasting. While my record-breaking wine tasting occurred at 30,400 feet it was of a generic wine in cramped quarters. This time I tried a local wine in a relaxing, wooded setting.

I first drank the 2007 Gruet Pinot last summer and found it surprisingly good. Through my own ignorance I had not realized that Gruet Winery produced still wines. In my limited experience with New Mexican wine it is probably the best, most universally appealing wine I have tasted. If you are traveling to New Mexico it is certainly worth purchasing a bottle. You may find a selection of Gruet wines at local wine stores and Whole Foods Market. And if you are staying in Albuquerque you may visit the winery just north of downtown.

2007 Gruet Winery, Cuvee Gilbert Gruet, Pinot Noir, New Mexico – (375 mL) $13
The color was a light garnet rose. The light+ nose revealed dry aromas with a ripe, red fruit core. The light+ flavors are of dry cherry, dusty, mature notes, and wood box. There was a lipsticky finish followed by an aftertaste of ripe tannins which leave sweet spices on the lips and tongue. At its peak. ** Now-2013.

On the Relative Ageability of Two New Mexican Wines

I have not been purposefully cellared any New Mexican wines.  Indeed these bottles are the last two southwest wines from our basement.  I do not know of a vintage chart for New Mexico nor did I readily find older vintages for sale on our trip.  So this is just a relative peek at ageability of these wines.  La Chiripada recently started offering their library wines for sale.  So I jumped at the opportunity to take one home.  The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was recommended and set me back $37.  The 2004 Milagro Cabernet Sauvignon was a gift from several years ago.  I had completely forgotten about that wine until I discovered it this past Friday.  I was gathering empty bottles to photograph for my Old Tasting Notes when I found it standing up amongst the empties.

Both of these wines have easily survived at this point.  The La Chiripada is a richer, upfront style.  It should last several more years but I do not know if it will develop more complexity or if the alcohol will become unbalanced.  If I had several bottles I would check on it again in one year for the sake of research.  The Milagro looked much older than it tasted, which is a little troubling.  While there is enough acidity to keep it lively for several more years, it is not a complex wine and I would recommend drinking it now.

In terms of price, I would not recommend running out to buy these wines at this price point.  There are many other tasty wines I would spend our money on.  But for intellectual curiosity, they certainly are worth it.

2005 La Chiripada, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mimbres Valley.  It was vinified with a yeast strain that enhances the berry flavors.  The free-run juice was aged for 22 months in new European oak.  In the glass the wine is a medium garnet color.  It reveals richer, riper fruit but a bit of heat comes out.  There are tart red berries, some spices, and puckering acidity.  On the second night it show prominent Eucalyptus-like flavors.  ** Now-2014.

2004 Milagro, Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine was also a medium garnet color but with more brick hints making it look older than the La Chiripada.  There were hard black fruits and flavors of blackcurrant.  The fruit is immediately tart and acidic with a very minimal amount of light-textured tannins.  There is a little perfume in the finish.  With air it puts on weight.  While it has aged well, there is not much complexity.  In the end there are enjoyable dark, blue fruits with mouth-watering acidity.  ** Now-2015.

2007 D.H. Lescombes, Cabernet Sauvignon, New Mexico

D. H. Lescombes is just one of eight labels of the large Southwest Wines company.  Southwest Wines was founded in the late 1960s.  This company has vineyards in Deming, New Mexico along with a winery, trucking company, distribution company, and several bistros.  The grapes for this wine come from 180 acres of vineyards located at 4500 feet.  Additional vines are being planted so that the acreage will reach 220 by the end of the year.  The soils are sandy and loamy.  This is a modern operation.  The harvest takes place between mid-August and late September.  The vast majority of the grapes are machine harvested, coaxed by a  pneumatic press, fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel, then aged in oak barrels.  The wines are filtered twice before bottling.  The bottling line is also used for other wineries in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona and handles over 200,000 cases per year.

The Composite Cork

The D.H. Lescombes wines are named after Danielle and Herve Lescombes and are intended to be the high-end label.  The wines produced under this label are made in a traditional French style.  This bottle was purchased for $22-$23 from Whole Foods.  This is completely drinkable wine that would appeal to many and certainly worth trying.  I did not notice the relatively high alcohol, perhaps do to the bracing acidity.  I do wish the oak was toned down a notch.

2007 D.H. Lescombes, Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 12-18 months in French oak barrels. It is fairly strong at 15% ABV.  This is a medium ruby color. There are bright red fruit flavors with bracing acidity, some spices, and red currants. There are some blue fruits in the finish then a tart red flavor as the aftertaste takes over. On the subsequent night there are grippy, tart, red fruits, a fair amount of weight, and new oak flavors that are a bit green.  ** Now-2014.

2008 Black Mesa Winery, Petite Sirah

The Cork

The Petite Sirah was not offered for tasting because there were only six bottles left. While I wanted to grab a bottle of the Syrah, I went with the Petite Sirah for completeness sake. The sage component is certainly interesting and evocative of the New Mexican landscape.

The Bottle

2008 Black Mesa Winery, Petite Sirah
This wine is a medium+ dark cherry color. There is a slightly creamy, red nose. In the mouth there are red fruits, that are tart, along with black pepper notes that come out midpalate. There is a strong sage component. It finishes up with grapey tannins.  ** Now-2015.

Dinner at the Historic Taos Inn

The Taos Inn has served as a hotel since 1936. The hotel consists of several adobe buildings, some of which date to the late 19th century.  Originally owned by Arthur Manby, the renters Dr. Thomas Paul Martin and his wife Helen, eventually bought the buildings, turning them into the Martin Apartments.  When Dr. Martin died in 1933, Helen decided to go into the hotel business and created Hotel Martin in 1936.  In the 1940s Sam and Mary Albright bought the hotel, renaming it the Taos Inn.  In 1946 the hotel was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Street.  They added the thunderbird Taos Inn sign (the first neon sign in Taos), a restaurant, and a bar.

The Taos Inn

Last Saturday, Jenn and I dined at the Taos Inn restaurant known as Doc Martins. The winds had died down, the smoke had cleared, and the intense sun had lowered in the sky. We sat down on the patio for an early dinner. I had taken a brief look at the wine list whilst my daughter ate an even earlier dinner at the Adobe Bar.  At the bar there were three opera students and their instructor from Santa Fe were singing for the first part of the evenings music. I perused the wine list to various arias. The list is fairly broad with selections from all over the world and deep vintages for several wines from California. There is a Mexican wine, several from Washington state, a couple vintages of Heitz Trailside, and irresistible vintage port. I knew I would pass on the New Mexico selections but could not decided what to drink. I decided that I would leave it up to the sommelier.

2003 Quinta des Roques, Reserva

When we sat down for dinner, I was again tempted to just drink a bottle of port with our meal. But sanity prevailed and  I chatted with the sommelier about what we like and with complete obfuscation from my indecision about what we wanted to drink (or was it oxygen deprivation from the 7,000 feet of elevation?)  we started off with Craig’s recommendation.  He recommended the 2003 Quinta des Roques, Reserva, Dao, Portugal. He was careful to ensure we were comfortable with the wine and price range. He decanted the wine and made sure we were happy.

Jenn and I started with the Rattlesnake and Rabbit Sausage along with the Chile Relleno.

Rattlesnake and Rabbit Sausage

Chile Rellano

Craig checked on us a few times and we chatted about wine. He told us the story about Mr and Mrs. Street building a bomb shelter in the 1950s because they were afraid that Taos looked like Los Alamos from the air. The bomb shelter now serves as the wine cellar so you can often see Craig walking off into the complex of buildings then returning with bottles in his arms. There is a wine fridge on the main floor, perhaps holding more popular selections.

Jenn with our five glasses of wine

After seeing us receive our appetizers Craig kindly brought out glasses of the 2008 Gruet, Cuvee Gilbert Gruet, Pinot Noir to try. He was very excited about this new wine and thought it is a great example of New Mexican Pinot Noir. We were excited to try the wine because we had bought a bottle in Albuquerque. We did open the bottle so I’ll post a tasting note later on. He also brought out a glass of German Riesling for Jenn to drink with her Chile Rellano.

We then ate the pork and trout entrees.

Pork Entree

Trout Entree

By the time we finished our meal the winds had died down, it was a comfortable temperature, and we kept talking about drinking some port. There were selections of 1977 Gould Campbell, 1977 Grahams, along with, I believe, 1966 and 1963 Grahams. The prices were on the low-end, if not lower than, the retail listings on Wine-Searcher. Craig explained that he and the owner review the wine inventory once per month and set prices to encourage people to buy wines. They like people to drink the older bottles. Some selections that have been recently drunk up include 1999 Havens Burriquet for $45 and 1999 Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape for $90.

He checked the bomb shelter for half bottles but only found a 1988 vintage port so we settled on the 1977 Gould Campbell. We asked Craig if he could double-decant the port so we could take it back to our room. He was wary about the sediment but did a fine job of removing the cork and the sediment. He returned the bottle closed with a different cork, the original cork in one piece, a glass with the sediment, and glasses for our room.

I highly recommend the Taos Inn and picking wine off the list with the help of Craig.  The wine list alone is enough reason to dine at the restaurant.

1977 Gould Campbell

2003 Quinta des Roques, Reserva, Dao
This took a few hours to open up. Dusty flavors of leather, oak in this restrained wine. There are flavors of minerals and a light amount of blue fruits. Drying tannins in the finish.  ** Now.

1977 Gould Campbell, Vintage Port
Imported by Grape Expectations. We drank this over three nights. The first night it was expectedly showing restrained fruit and alcoholic power. It improved on the second night and was even better on the third.  Dark red fruit, spices, leather.  **** Now-2027.

Tasting Notes from La Chiripada

A Corner of the Tasting Room

The Chardonnay, Viognier, and Merlot are all well-made wines that, if poured blind, would surprise many as to their New Mexican origins. The Dolcetto stands out, as does its price.

2010 Chardonnay, $19
This wine is a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Muscat from the Mimbres Valley that was fermented and aged in Hungarian Oak. This is richly flavored with some tropical notes. The Chardonnay and Muscat are nicely blended. More national in style.  Not Rated.

2010 Viognier, $20
This wine is a blend of 90% Viognier and 10% Muscat from the Mimbres Valley. A nice wine that is not tropical like the Chardonnay. More national in style.  Not Rated.

2009 Special Reserve Riesling, $19
This wine is 100% Riesling from the Embudo Valley. This is very clear in the glass. In the mouth there are semi-sweet flavors, confections, and a good mouthfeel.  Not my style of Riesling.  Not Rated.

2009 Rio Embudo Red

2009 Rio Embudo Red, $18
This wine is a blend of 80% Leon Millot, 10% Pinot Noit, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon made from estate grapes. 90% of the grapes are from the estate with 10% from Rio Embudo. There are fresh, ripe, red fruits that have delicate flavors.  Not Rated.

2009 Rio Embudo, Red Reserve, $25
This wine is a blend of 75% Leon Millot, 20% Montepulciano, and 10% Petite Sirah. 75% of the grapes are from the estate with 25% from Rio Embudo. This is a bit richer in flavor but with tarter, red fruits than the previous wine.  Not Rated.

2009 Merlot, $26
This wine is 90% Merlot and 10% Petite Sirah from the Mimbres Valley. There is a nose of spiced red fruits. In the mouth there is gritty fruit and a little inkiness. This is a well done wine that would appeal too many. More national in style.  Not Rated.

2008 Vintner’s Reserve, $24
This wine is 55% Tempranillo and 45% Ruby Cabernet from the Mimbres Valley. Bright, red fruits with mouthfilling flavors and acidity. There are fine to medium tannins.  Not Rated.

2008 Dolcetto, $32
This wine is 80% Dolcetto and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mimbres Valley. There are dark red fruits, grippy flavors, and black red berries that morph into blue, floral fruit in the finish. Nice.  Not Rated.

2008 Winemaker’s Select Red, $24
This wine is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Shiraz from the Mimbres Valley. There is a pepper scent to the nose. In the mouth there are floral fruits and some purple flavors in the finish as fine tannins come out.  Not Rated.

The Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz Reserves

2008 Shiraz Reserve, $24
This wine is 100% Shiraz from the Mimbres Valley aged in Hungarian oak. There are immediate flavors from very fine oak. The fruit flavors are mixed with some pepper, a little raciness, and some spice.  Not Rated.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, $32
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Mimbres valley that was aged in New European oak for 22 months. This sports a slightly aged nose. There are some pruned fruits to the rich, medium-bodied wine. There are red and blue fruits, fine to medium tannins that cause a drying finish. An inky aftertaste wraps things up. Perhaps this oxidized a bit as it comes across as older than its vintage. We bought a bottle of the 2005 vintage and will try it in a couple of weeks.  Not Rated.