Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Spring Wine Tour for 2009 (2/4)

Baja Wine Country News
by Steve Dryden

Let’s start in the metropolitan city of San Antonio de las Minas at Km 94.5. As you approach this village from the coast on Highway 3, don't blink or you’ll miss the town! Watch the shoulder of the road and look for mile markers (kilometer) as this will aid you in your search for those “bottled treasures of delight.” Look to the right side as you enter the town and you’ll see two very large beer signs: Tecate Beer and Corona, at this point note that just before the signs, on the right side are two businesses of interest. Leonardo’s Pie Shop - you’ll need a chain saw to cut in to their eight-inch thick homemade pies, they serve amazing breakfast, and right up the street fifty yards is Los Globos Creamery - where you’ll find a nice selection of local cheese. Globos is a nice place to purchase gourmet cheese from Ojos Negros or Rancho Cortez, as many wineries have the perfect spot for wine and cheese tasting on their patios or terraces.

Continue on Highway 3 for about one mile beyond the village and as you travel towards Tecate you’ll see a large white building on the right at Km 93.5, this is Viña de Liceaga. Their newly completed complex offers amazing wines, great hospitality and is staffed with knowledgeable employees. The tasting room is open daily from 11 am to 5 p.m. with tasting fees ranging from $3 to $10 per person. $10 gets you a wine glass, samples of one white wine, four red wines, and one taste of their Grappa. $3 gets you one taste of white wine and one red wine. Large tour groups of more than ten people need to make advance reservations with Marisa at (646) 155-3281.

This winery is famous for their Merlot, but Viña de Liceaga continues to make a good Chenin Blanc from grapes grown in Valle de San Vicente. Their 2007 Chenin Blanc is aged in stainless steel tanks which allows for a refreshing and light white wine with hints of pineapple, green apple, honey, and peach. Their 2007 Vino Tinto is a palate pleasing blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, both varietals are grown in Valle de Guadalupe. This user-friendly table wine was released in mid-July 2008 after aging for nine months in American oak barrels. Vino Tinto is a smooth red blend, medium bodied and easy to drink.

Liceaga’s 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is a mellow red blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah ~ most delightful and smooth. The grapes are from Guadalupe Valley and are aged for two years in new American oak barrels. Aromas of tobacco, violets, vanilla and coffee with flavors of black fruit, and bell pepper. Smooth, elegant, and complex with 13.5 % alcohol. Their 2005 Gran Reserva Merlot is an elegant blend of grapes grown in San Antonio de las Minas with 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Aged in new French oak barrels and with 13.5% alcohol this wine makes for a smooth, fruit forward, rich, complex and palate pleasing Merlot. Their newest 2006 Gran Reserva Merlot was released in November 2008, with a slightly different blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, no Cabernet Franc added. My favorite wine for 2009 is their new 2006 L ~ Selection #1, which is the Eduardo Liceaga Campos memorial wine. This remarkable wine is a superb blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Merlot, aged for 20 months in new American oak ~ a connoisseurs delight!

To be continued ....