Saturday, March 08, 2008

Visit Monte Xanic

The highlight of my tour through the valley was a stop at Monte Xanic. As luck would have it, Backhoff was cooling off in the tasting room on this scorching hot day.

Backhoff is an old acquaintance. He and I have both judged at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition, and he came to San Diego a couple of years ago to judge at the San Diego International Wine Competition, where I am Director and Chief Judge.

He greeted me with a bit of a gleam in his eye, for he had a couple of special wines to share. Monte Xanic is well known for its Cabernet, its Bordeaux-style red and white blends and its Chardonnay.

On this day, Hans was on to something else.

"These are experimental wines, they are not for sale," he said.

One was a red blend of Aglianico and Nebbiolo, about 90 percent of it Aglianico. This is the most important red grape of southern Italy and produces a world class wine under the right circumstances.

"The Aglianico is doing beautifully," said Backhoff. "The cuttings came from a man locally."

The Nebbiolo Aglianico was exquisitely balanced and beautifully structured, a complex, world class red that's easily among the best wines I've ever tasted from Baja. The other wine that had Backhoff humming was a Petit Verdot, a gorgeous fruit bomb of a wine that reminded me of fresh blueberries.

"We usually blend this for color, but this was so good we had to bottle some on its own," said Hans.

I remember thinking as I left that I couldn't believe these two incredible wines were made in Mexico. Then I remembered my first visit to Monte Xanic many years ago. I went home with a bottle of Chardonnay and poured it during a blind tasting for a number of wine enthusiasts who met regularly at a local restaurant.

The Monte Xanic bested a stellar selection of French white Burgundies and California Chardonnays. As the winner was unbagged, one of the tasters, a confirmed Francophile, buried his face in his hands and cried: 'I don't believe I voted for a wine from Mexico over the Puligny-Montrachet!'
Source Robert Whitley


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