My experience with the Cabernet/Syrah blend comes primarily from Australia, where the two grapes are commonly planted in the various regions of South Australia, both as single variety or as blends. Perhaps the most commercially renowned wine of Australia, Penfolds Grange, is a bold, intense blend of Cabernet and Syrah. The wines of the Valle de Guadalupe, likewise, tend to be big on fruit, oak, body, and general intensity. My expectations for this wine, then were colored by my previous experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the wine in the glass.

Though dark ruby in color, the wine itself was clear, glassy, and somewhat transparent, rather than inky or opaque. Ripe fruit hovers in the bowl of the glass – dark cherries, plum skin, rich crème de cassis, soft raspberry. A smokiness wafts through the wine as well, like sweet mesquite. This wine sees some oak, as many red wines from the Valle do, but the vanilla is subdued by bright fruit.

On the palate, juicy red fruit dominates, with raspberry again, cranberry, dried currant, and black cherry. A pillow of fruit is corralled by moderate tannin and a savory, sweet-tomato note. A hint of cedar, toast, and caramel – or should I say dulce de leche? I’ll admit that it’s a bit softer than I expect from these to grapes, but it works. A wine that makes me salivate and think about adobada pork, mole, and grilled, charred chicken.

This wine is downright drinkable! And that’s no knock on it. As wine professionals, we learn to love a little jarring of the palate: monstrously tannic Barolo, enamel-lifting Riesling, austere and mysterious Chablis. Our guests are not always looking for those tasting notes, or price tags. This is an easy-going “red blend” with a little adventure.


Molly Brooks Advanced Sommelier WSET Level III