Saturday, February 21, 2009
Mexican Wine: Si! Por Favor!
National Public Radio's Weekend Edition featured a story today about Mexican wine. As a "boutique" winemaker in San Diego, CA we have known about good wines coming out of Mexico for years. Guadeloupe Valley in Baja, Mexico is about one hour south of San Diego. Many San Diego winemakers (including ourselves) purchase grapes grown by Camillo in Baja sent up by refrigerated truck. In fact, our neighborhood Belle Marie Winery features outstanding wines made almost exclusively from Camillo's best Baja grapes. (I remember the first time I visited Belle Marie some ten years ago -- I was sceptical. But after the first sip, I was hooked and have been a big fan ever since.) One issue I have with the NPR story is the taste test -- an ordinary $10 Nebbiolo wine from Baja's Cetto Winery was chosen to compete against a $50 Nebbiolo from Italy and another wine in a blind tasting. This selection put the Mexican wine at a disadvantage -- it would have been like Steven Spurrier offering "Gallo" wine to the French at the 1976 shoot out in France. In 2006 we made a Nebbiolo wine from Camillo's grapes (which Mick from Belle Marie, a real supporter of the local winemakers in Blue-Merle Country, was generous enough to share with us) that is suited for Kings, Queens, company presidents and Popes. I gave a case of it to the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, which thought so highly of it that they served it to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church during her visit to San Diego last year. Everyone raves about the wine. And, as all winemakers know, "You can't make good wine from lousy grapes." Thank you Camillo (who I will put up against any grape grower in the world for his contributions to viticulture) and to the Baja Winemakers, I salute you!