In my selection I’ve put some interesting wines not complying with “generic” tastes (i.e. from less diffused grape varieties or of unusual blends) in the category under 170 pesos. They are mostly of Mexican origin. It is interesting to note that this country’s wines are still scarcely known domestically, let alone in internationally, and well worth exploring as there are many surprisingly delicious gems among them.
Casa Magoni Manaz 2013 Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico (87/100, distributed by laeuropea.com.mx and vinosamerica.com, price 170 pesos). Made of one French and one Italian grape variety – Viognier & Fiano, both from the Southern regions of the countries. Quite aromatic, with some hints of blossoming lemon trees, medium body with some pine resin notes, typical for the Viognier.
Casa Madero Casa Grande Chenin Blanc 2013/2014 “green label”, Valle de Parras, Coahuila, Mexico (89/100, distributed by vinosamerica.com and supermarket chains, price 170 pesos). This is a French variety from the Loire valley, largely planted in South Africa and gaining popularity in Mexico for its versatility to produce a very broad range of wine styles – from light and crisp ones to age worthy, thick and voluptuous wines, from dry to dessert, from still to sparkling wines. This one has an expressive bouquet of white peaches, light vanilla notes, ripe and sweet gooseberry and curry. It’s dense with refreshing acidity, plush fruitiness and some spice in the aftertaste.
Gatão 2013, Vinho Verde DOC, Portugal (87/100, distributed by Soriana and others, 90-110 pesos). This is a very light (less than 10 percent alcohol) summer wine, refreshing and slightly fizzy, lemon zest and freshness all over. It’s called “green wine” as the varieties that are used for its production give wine with a greenish hue. The main variety is Alvarinho, the twin brother of Spain’s fashionable Albariño, with the difference that Spanish analogues prices go from 170 pesos and up. A good choice at this price point and in the light white wines style could also be the Santo Tomas Colombard 2014 and the LA Cetto Champbrulé sparkling wine (Chardonnay & Colombard), both from Baja California, Mexico (125 pesos at La Europea, La Playa and others).
Casa Madero Rosado 2014 “white label”, Valle de Parras, Coahuila, Mexico (90/100, distributed by vinosamerica.com and supermarket chains, price 160 pesos). Made out of 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Surprisingly bright bouquet with peaches and raspberry notes, very fresh in the taste, resembles the best “summer” rosé wines from the French Provence. A real seducer.
LA Cetto Puerto Nuevo Cabernet Malbec 2013, Baja California, Mexico (89/100, distributed by most supermarket chains, price 50-75 pesos). The best bargain red wine on the market, there’s no other red with this level of complexity and expressivity for this price, even among Chilean wines. Ripe red fruits, evident oaky notes (coffee, vanilla, chocolate), rich structure and moderate but present tannins combined with the perfect acidity. You can serve it even slightly chilled (15-16 º C). Best summer choice for meat dishes. Nearly at the same price point (70-80 pesos) the Santo Tomas Mision 2013, made of Carignan and Tempranillo, could be another good choice of light, juicy summer red wine.
Aborigen Tinto de la Casa 2013, Baja California, Mexico (91/100, distributed by lacontravinos.com, price 140 pesos). Aborigen is a personal project of Hugo d’Acosta, the country’s leading enologist and wine consultant. Made of five varieties, predominantly of Tempranillo, Zinfandel and Carignan, with a touch of Barbera and Petit Sirah. Open and expressive bouquet with loads of red and black berries and balsamic notes, light to medium body with present but not disturbing tannins, mineral and with perfect acidity. A wine of really high style and elegance where you can see the hand of the Master.
LA Cetto Petit Sirah 2013 Baja California, Mexico (89/100, distributed by nearly all supermarket chains and wine shops, price 85-100 pesos). LA Cetto is the biggest Mexican winery and very consistent in quality with regard to entry level red wines, produced by the million bottles. In my opinion this is the best of the series that also includes a varietal Zinfandel and Cabernet – rich and open aromas typical for the Petit Sirah (dried red berries, leather, hot soil, smokiness) and a real quaffer with perfect balance.
LA Cetto Peninsula Lyra 2012 Baja California, Mexico (92/100, distributed exclusively by vinisfera.com, price 170 pesos). What I respect at LA Cetto is that they never stop their research in viticulture and winemaking. Peninsula is a new project, the first wines have just been released. This wine comes from two Italian varieties – Montepulciano & Barbera, grown on the rare, quite difficult to maintain but surely effective Lyra architecture, when the vine shoots are trained to form the letter V. It’s an opulent fruit bomb in the nose, with blackberry and raspberry notes, wild berries, honeysuckle and some black pepper. Bone dry in the mouth with typically high “Italian” acidity, a bit “rustic” (characteristic for the Montepulciano) but elegant at the same time, with raspberry and slightly tannic long finish.
Santo Tomas Tipo Jerez vino generoso seco, Baja California, Mexico (88/100, distributed in some La Europea outlets, price 80-100 pesos). There’s nothing more refreshing during summer than a “copita” of sherry on the rocks. This is a fortified dry white wine (with added grape distillate), a bit heavier than the Spanish fino (17 percent alcohol) but with very recognizable characteristics – the typical “flor” notes (bread and dried white fruits), ashes, wet stones and nuts. The taste burst with apricot notes, salty ocean breeze and nuts. La Europea also distributes one of the best sherries of Manzanilla type: La Gitana (Jerez, Spain, 135 pesos for 0.5-liter bottle) – a lighter and more aromatic sherry with expressive apple notes.