To be honest, I feel like a review of “current vintage” Gran Ricardo is premature. Everything about this bottle – thick glass, waxed over cork, deep punt - screams “take me seriously!” and “give me time,” but I also think it’s fair to treat this wine with the immediacy expected by consumers.
One of the more traditional blends produced in the Valle, the Gran Ricardo is arguably also one of the best-known prestige bottlings. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, this herbaceous, dusty, Mercurial presentation showcases a graphitic minerality not often associated with Mexican wines. New French Oak is a recent hallmark of top bottlings from the Valle de Guadalupe, and is no stranger here, but the cedar and spice add a rustic edge to Gran Ricardo, keeping it complex and subdued at once.
Full-bodied but not jammy, I am intrigued with the generous blackberry, plummy fruit and savory green herb notes of the wine. The current vintage is rocky and structure-heavy, which makes me curious to see older vintages, as this wine has staying power. Still showy a day after being opened, this is an easy pairing for the spectacular pasture-raised, local grass-fed beef of Baja, or for richer, gamier meats as well. The Valle de Guadalupe is known for unconventional blends, but the quality of Gran Ricardo is a testament to both the time-honored Bordeaux blend of grapes, the terroir of the region, and the quality of Monte Xanic’s winemaking capabilities. Cheers! Molly Brooks Advanced Sommelier WSET Level III
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. Cheers! Molly Brooks Advanced Sommelier WSET Level III
I’m not new to wines from the Valle de Guadalupe, and Monte Xanic’s wines are not new to the region, either. The winery just turned 30, making it one of the oldest in the Valle de Guadalupe (and, let’s be honest, older than the majority of wine labels up and down the California/Baja California coastline!).
The Valle de Guadalupe is an arid climate with warm, sunny days throughout much of the year. Breezes and cool air sucked in from the Pacific Ocean cause a pretty shocking diurnal shift. I check the temperature against my hometown of San Diego daily, and while daytime temperatures may be a few degrees warmer in the Valle de Guadalupe, nighttime temperatures routinely see a dramatic 35-40 degree drop in temperature. Still, in a land of abundant warmth and sunshine, producers focus on white grapes that maintain acidity throughout ripeness.
The Vina Kristel is just that; crystal clear bordering on green in the glass. Pretty, clean, packaging that screams “no oak here!” I am not misled. The fruit in the glass is ripe, but still green. Fresh pear, lime juice, tropical notes of dragon fruit and honeydew, lime blossom, and healthy, wet green grass. This fruit profile is echoed on the palate. Sweet grassy notes, juicy but moderate in body. Acidity on the palate is pleasantly bright, and the wine is texturally rounded, almost oily but not flabby.
This Sauvignon Blanc is not as assertive as New Zealand, not as linear, mineral, or chalky as Sancerre, and doesn’t see the oak of Bordeaux or more voluptuous California styles. In an approachable style that steers down the straight and narrow of Sauvignon Blanc, this would be a great “goes-together-goes-together” pairing for soft, fresh cotija cheese, or richer goats milk, and as a palate-cleanser for the fresh shellfish & seafood for which Mexico’s northwest coast has become famous. An excellent pairing as well for Caesar salad, which was, after all, invented in Baja California’s capital city, Tijuana! Molly Brooks - Advanced Sommelier WSET Level III
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