'98 Dead Arm, '03 Montes Folley, '03 Catena Alta, '03 Luigi Bosca Gala & 4 high-end Mexican wines

Monterrey, Mexico

Tasted May 24, 2007 by hcampana with 780 views


My tasting group tries to get together once a month to taste wines and talk about our common hobby. Most of our tastings are theme-less double blind, but this time we decided to taste New World wines. One of our members is a hunter, so we are often treated to out-of-the norm dishes. This time, he nrought our talented chef member Nilgai filets and Rattlesnake, that were wonderfully prepared. Nilgai is a large African Antelope that was surprisingly tender and marbled for such a lean muscled beast. Our hunter friend threatened to bring in elephant meat (he was returning from Botswana), but our eco-friendly chef refused to cook an endangered species. In the ned, our hunter friend had been joking about the elephant all along.

I was really anxious to taste all wines because several members hinted they'd be taking high end Mexican wines to try and change my perception that Mexico is outside of the geographical sweet spot for making wolrd class wine. Just to make it more interesting I took a bottle of mexico's most expensive Bordeaux Blend (Gran Ricardo) to see if my beliefs were reinforced by a blind tasting or not.

Flight 1 (9 notes)

Wines were paired with 4 dishes:

1) Lentil soup with Rattlesnake Strudel

2) Slow cooked beef shank

3) Nilgai Tenderloin medallions

4) Basil sorbet with chocolate filled pastries

2004 Duckhorn Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley
90 points
White Wine

Pale straw color with a green hue. The nose is herbaceous and acidic. This is for sure Sauvignon Blanc. Fuller bodied than you expect in a SB and showing a fatter, more oily texture. This has new oak and is from a hot climate. Cannot be European. Is this Chilean or Californian? I liked it better than others that complained the oak "ruins" the fruit purity and racy nature of Sauvigon blanc. I thougt it tatsed pretty good.
2002 Casa de Piedra Vino de Piedra Tinto Mexico, Baja California, Ensenada
86 points
Medium ruby color that does not seem to be dark enough for a hot climate Cab. The nose is very, very ripe, offering caramel and toffee. In the mouth this wine is better than in the nose, but has a saline edge that tells me this is a mexican wine from the salty lands of the Valle de Guadalupe. I was correct.
2004 Viñedos y Terruños Icaro Mexico, Baja California, Valle de Guadalupe
Red Wine No. 2

A lot darker than Wine Number 1. The nose is incredibly over ripe. Bubble gum, caramel and more caramel. Medium to full bodied, lacking fruit in the mid palate. The finish is redolent of tartaric acid and has a salty element. This is mexican for sure. I was right.
2003 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Catena Alta Argentina, Mendoza
92 points
Red Wine No. 3

Purple color. Smoky chocolatey nose. Full bodied, tannic but full of luscious fruit. Th finish offers some spice and is low in acidity. This is a winner. I guessed this was an Aussie Shiraz. I was wrong.
2003 Luigi Bosca Gala 1 Argentina, Mendoza
85 points
Red Wine No. 4

Very dark ruby color. The nose is filled with a fake bubble gum aroma initially. With swirling, melted butter and more over ripe aromas emerge. Medium to full bodied. This is un balanced and over the top.
2004 Chateau Camou El Gran Vino Tinto Mexico, Baja California, Valle de Guadalupe
70 points
Red Wine No. 5

Lightest color in flight. The nose is a runaway locomotoive full of over ripe aromas of roasted fruit, caramel and iron oxide. Medium bodied and frankly un pleasant. This was over done.
2001 Monte Xanic Gran Ricardo Mexico, Baja California, Valle de Guadalupe
86 points
Red Wine No. 6

Most evolved color of the night. This had a brownish hue that seems un natural given that this wine is only 5 years old. The nose was weird at first, but definitely more interesting than the rather un pleasant noses of all wines tasted so far (except for No. 3). Some funky barn notes were present at first. Then dark fruits and other ineffable aromas. In the mouth, this lost its appeal, tasting salty and a bit acidic, lacking fruit.
1998 d'Arenberg Shiraz The Dead Arm Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
91 points
Red Wine No. 7

Very dark ruby color. The nose is very ripe, offering caramel fudge and good black fruit density. TGhe palate offers a bit more acidity than all other wines and a medium to full bodied, tannic finish. I liked this wine, but expected more once its identity was un-veiled.
2003 Montes Syrah Folly La Finca de Apalta Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
93 points
Red Wine No. 8

Very dark ruby color. Initially dominated by a melted butter aroma, it offered very ripe characteristics that border on over ripe but some how pulls it off. After 30 minutes, the melted butter goes away and is substituted by Chile's unmistakeable wet loamy note. I am sure this is Chilean, but I thought it was a Cab.


In the end, I confimed my impression that Mexican wines tend to be salty, over ripe and often overacidified (in an effort to reduce the saltiness). Furthermore, I continue to believe that if anything, Mexico should pursue hotter climate varietals like Garnacha or Mouvedre, not Cabernet or Merlot.

I don't think my friends are going to tease me about my anti-nationalism, as they also chose all mexican wines at the bottom of their preferences.

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