About The Author:

"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.

Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: rogerthewineguy@gmail.com.

(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

La Redonda

Mexicans consume only about 40% of the wines produced in Mexico. The rest are exported with roughly 3/4 of that production going to U.S. markets. Most Americans have a nodding acquaintance with the principal wine-producing region of Mexico: Valle de Guadalupe near Ensenada in Baja Norte. A significant wine-growing area, however, lies in the central state of Queretaro and it is here, near Tequisquiapan where Mr. And Mrs. Wine Guy visited La Redonda, an up and coming winery.

La Redonda actually has a 35-year history of grape production, growing and producing grapes for other Mexican wineries, principally their neighbors, Freixenet of Mexico near Bernal and Hildalgo at San Juan del Rio. This is one of the southernmost vineyards in North American mainly producing Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Trebbiano but also a few other varietals including Muscat and the rare Verdonia.

As with a lot of Mexican wines, there is an Italian connection. Vittorio Bortoluz immigrated to Mexico from Italy in the 50’s, and in 1972 established his own vineyard in this high plain region (elevation here is 6,300feet) of central Mexico near the Sierra Gorda mountains. In 2006 Claudio Bortoluz Orlandi opened the doors to wine production producing two labels. The first, La Redonda, is for joven or young wines. The second label, Orlandi, represents Crianza wines, ones that are more fully aged. Under Claudio’s leadership La Redonda is attempting to promote and encourage Mexican wine consumption more than producing wines for export. They hold several annual tasting festivals to attract visitors from nearby Mexico City and have added a trattoria on the grounds and offer complimentary tasting to visitors, which is rare at Mexican wineries. In the past year, they entered into a joint venture with the Australian family producer Angove’s and are now distributing those wines as well as offering them for tasting at the winery.

We were mid week visitors and thus had the undivided attention of the tasting room attendant Sylvia (see photo) who spoke no English. Fortunately, The Wine Guy had the assistance of a fully bilingual Tequisquiapan to supplement his very poor Espanol. Mrs. Wine Guy and I were grateful to Silvestre for his assistance and fully enjoyed sharing a luncheon cheese plate and bottle of La Redonda Sauvignon Blanc with him. his wife Rosa and son Alejandro (no wine for Alejandro who otherwise enjoyed tugging on The Wine Guy’s beard during lunch).

La Redonda’s best efforts were the aforementioned Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp and smooth Sauvignon Blanc that is unique in taste. I enjoyed, as well, as their Vino Blanco semi-secco, which is a delightful and smoothly flavorful blend of Trebbiano and Verdonia. While they are a major supplier of grapes for Freixenet for their Sala Vive and Petilant wines, their own attempts at sparkling wine fell a little short of their more renowned neighbor. (I’ll visit this winery in an upcoming blog). Their best red wine effort is the Orlandi Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec blend, barrel aged for 8 months. It tastes a little fruit forward which you come to expect in most Mexican wines. I also detected a little sharpness in the oaky finish but it is a wine that was quite enjoyable for the price and shows promise. The other Orlandi sample I had in the tasting room was, frankly, a little oxidized and tough to evaluate. Being mid-week after a holiday weekend, they were very reticent to open a new bottle.

(A note of caution for travelers from The Wine Guy: wine preservation systems are seldom in use in Mexico and most facilities will keep open bottles on the shelf until consumed. If you travel and frequent wineries, restaurants and wine-bars in non-peak traffic periods, you will definitely encounter some wine by the glass that is past its time to be poured!)

With the winery’s focus on developing domestic consumers, you probably won’t see La Redonda or Orlandi distributed widely in the U.S. except in the Southwest but their wines have potential and should be worth watching for in the future. Their facility is definitely worth a visit if you’re traveling to central Mexico. Take time out to travel Queretaro’s Ruta de Vinedos enroute to the delightful village of Bernal and stop in for the hospitality at Le Redonda, “Ruizdo de los Grandes Vinos Queretaros”!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Wines

It’s nice to be back!

The ever delightful and fetching Mrs. Wine Guy and I had a great time in Mexico. We enjoyed some great wines, visited two new wineries and I will be sharing some wine stories and experiences from that trip in upcoming blogs.

However, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer some thoughts and suggestions on pairing wine with your Thanksgiving dinner.

Traditionally turkey dinners at Thanksgiving generally call for white wine and without a doubt Chardonnay is the most popular pairing with turkey, It’s always a good choice, offering body and richness without overpowering the mild and subtle flavors of a good, moist capon. Buttery, creamy chardonnays seem to compliment turkey and also tend to pair well with the assortment and variety of side dishes that accompany a Thanksgiving feast. However, in choosing a chardonnay, be careful of overpowering your bird with too much oak.

Among my recommendations would be:
Rombauer Reserve Chardonnay, a California favorite that is full of fruit with light creamy smoothness. Santa Ema Reserve Chardonnay: this Chilean beauty is more affordable than Rombauer and offers alight touch of oak, light creaminess as well as a nice finish.
For those who prefer to avoid oak entirely, look for Razor’s Edge Un-oaked Chardonnay, a well-balanced Australia beauty that is one of my favorite unoaked chardonnays.

There are a variety of other whites that can also pair well. Chenin Blanc is often overlooked and a good choice here is Sebeka from South African. South African Chenin Blancs (they call the grape “Steen”) are uniquely crisp and fresh. For a dry white alternative that offers less tartness than Chenin Blanc, try Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc. This is a highly rated blend of Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne (see the Wine Guy’s previous blog on Viognier). If you have a slight sweet tooth, try a good Gerwurztraminer or better yet, go for a great jewel from California’s Mendocino County: Navarro Edelzwicker, a phenomenal Gewurtztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris blend.

For a memorable meal, seriously consider a good sparkling wine. It’s festive and fully appropriate for the occasion, not to mention it’s absolutely a wonderful pairing with moist turkey breast and stuffing! I would suggest leaning to an Extra Dry or a Blanc de Noirs as opposed to a Brut and if you can find a good sparkling Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley of France, you’ll be amazed at how well it pairs with turkey. A good value priced wine from an established French Wine-making family that has a winery in Albuquerque, New Mexico is Gruet and they make a great Blanc de Noirs.

Don’t overlook the reds. While you do have to be careful not to overpower the delicate white meat of a roasted turkey with bold flavors and tannins, it is possible to enjoy a good red wine at your Thanksgiving table.

The most popular red at Thanksgiving is Pinot Noir. Be careful to avoid some of the bolder, fuller Pinot Noirs with heavier fruit and spice notes. What you want is smoothness and a slight touch of delicacy on the finish. Domestically, Willamette Valley Vineyards and Cloudline from Oregon are two choices I’d recommend. My personal preference in Pinot Noir would be toward a dry, old-world style Pinot Noir. Two choices would be the organically grown Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile and from France, Faiveley Bourgogne. Both offer excellent turkey pairing possibilities.

If you’re not a Pinot Noir fan, go Monastrel, Mataro or Mourvedre (same grape…different name in different countries). It is a full-bodied grape with a smoothness that can still work with turkey. Two great choices would be Spain’s highly rated Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrel or California’s Cline Ancient Vine Mourvedre. A great sparkling red choice would be a Tuscan Brachetto. They offer a touch of raspberry fruitiness, light sweetness and a delicate sparkling finish. Try Banfi’s Rosa Regale either with your dinner or as a prelude to dessert.

Remember, it’s a feast! Don’t be afraid to try more than one wine with the meal and don’t forget dessert. Try finishing your meal with a Juracon from France or a nice Port from either Portugal or Australia.

Hopefully, these tips were helpful. Enjoy your feast and may you and yours be blessed with an abundance of things to be thankful for on this special occasion.