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: email@example.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
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”!