Vinos Tintos Buey!!

I would first like to apologize for my sporadic posting. I have a couple pretty big things in the works and the to-do list seems to get bigger and bigger. I knock one item off and it is quickly replaced with another priority. Don’t get me wrong I’m loving every minute of it. I just hope y’all are stickin’ with me. I have a lot to write about and I am going to try my hardest to keep up the good fight and balance a bit more.
On that note I would like to talk about a wine that I had recently that made an impression on me. It was not form France or Germany or Italy. No, it was not from Argentina, Chile or California. This wine was from the oldest wine producing country in the Americas. Mexico.
Wine first came here in the early 1500’s shortly after the Spanish conquistadors landed on her shores. Cortes (the one credited with overthrowing the Aztec empire), after kicking around the new world for a decade or so came to Mexico and made his mark. In the mid 1500’s he decreed that all Spanish settlers plant at least one thousand vines for every one hundred natives. Fuelled by this, as time went on King Carlos V made sure that every ship coming to the new colonies carried vines for cultivation on their new land. But nothing lasts forever, Christianity began to engulf the country and kings began to prohibit wine from being made for daily consumption. It was only allowed to be made for sacramental purposes. Then that good ole destructive mite, phylloxera came around and destroyed the vinifera vines that had come all the way from Europe. By this point though Spanish missionaries had brought wine all the way into what is now California. Oh, and before the downward spiral of religious dogma and decimating mites, Mexico had produced its first commercially sold wine made in the oldest winery in the Americas. Pretty cool stuff.
One of the guys I work with was flipping through some media one day and was surprised to see a Mexican category for wine. Being from Mexico, he had never heard of any viticulture to speak highly of other than some brandy here and there. Well when I found out there was wine being made in Mexico I was beside myself. I love when these opportunities come about. I love the risk of tasting a wine from some unrecognized area in the world just to see what’s up. So, the next day I was online and found it was for sale in NYC. Of course it was. Man I love this town. Off I went to Astor Wine and Liquors to pick it up.
This is where it got really interesting. I was face to face with a dilemma. Astor had two Mexican wines from one producer. And what really got me was that neither of them were your run-of-the-mill California stand by’s. Not merlot, cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel. Nor was it the big celebrity at the moment, pinot noir. No, the choices I had were petite sirah and…ready for this… nebbiolo. WOW. The petite sirah was only eight bucks and the nebbilolo was sixteen. I wanted them both but was a bit tight on cash so my budget gave me the petite sirah. This was very exciting. Off I went to work to share this potentially good wine. Why potentially? Well, petite sirah does very well in warm climates. It has made it mark mostly in northern California but also does well in South America. Because the climate of Mexico is quite Mediterranean there is the possibility that, if done properly, the wine can exhibit true varietal characteristics assuming that the vines are old enough to have gone very deep into the earth. I am just theorizing of course. It’s just the geek in me trying to figure it all out. Why don’t I just get to the wine?
Here is the breakdown: the wine is a 2004 petite sirah from one of the largest and most established wineries in Mexico, L.A. Cetto. The winery has been around since the 1920’s and was established by an Italian immigrant, Don Angelo Cetto. This is pretty cool because the Italian-American culture of northern California brought petite sirah to that area. The excitement was palpable when we popped this wine. It is always fun trying a bottle that could be a hit or a miss. The pour yielded a great color. It had that signature dark purple color that petite sirah is known for. The nose had it all as well. You could almost smell the tannins with its very green aroma and the alcohol was prominent but not overwhelming. The fruit was in the background waiting for the oxygen to do its thing and penetrate the wine. This true-to-the-varietal nose was a consensus among the group tasting the wine with me. Then something interesting happened. We all swirled and took our first sip. I don’t want to say that the excitement stopped there but after the initial sip everyone pretty much raised their eyebrows, nodded in agreement that it was well balanced and continued to empty the bottle. I, on the other hand was beside myself.
I agreed with the group; this was a true expression of petite sirah but not just a true expression. This wine was really good. I guess what I am trying to say is that because I didn’t even know that this country was serious about wine I wasn’t expecting much. It’s like when you go see a movie with no expectations or at lease not high expectations and it turns out to be not just enjoyable but a movie that is so good you may see it twice. This wine has all elements in place showing great effort by the wine maker to achieve just that. Nothing overwhelms each other. The tannin is prominent but not overwhelming. The fruit is underneath the tannin but mild and not trying to take center stage and the alcohol cools down quickly allowing you to enjoy all aspects of the wine. I don’t know if any of this is too confusing or if I keep repeating myself I am just very pleased with this wine and look forward to trying more vintages. The next step is trying the nebbiolo. It is still under twenty bucks so it’s just the right price point for this blog. The geeks and I dug this wine. I was a bit more vocal about it but the fact that they just went on drinking means that the wine was right where it was supposed to be. There were no complaints and my co-worker from Mexico who is well versed in Italian wines was pleasantly surprised. I went and picked up another bottle for the “cellar” to pull out when my wife and I have people over just to see the look on their faces. Thanks for staying with me. I will try my hardest to keep a more consistent posting discipline. I love writing about wine and I am not sure how many people actually tune in to what I am rambling about. But for those of you that are tuning in thank you. And the closer I get to finishing these couple of projects I got going on I will riff on what has been happening. It is all very exciting. Until the next post…Cheers!

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