Friday, March 13, 2009

New Spring Wine Tour for 2009 (4/4)



Baja Wine Country News
by Steve Dryden


L.A. Cetto is the largest producer of Nebbiolo wine in the world outside of Italy. This deep red and rich grape is often found in Piedmont, Italy, and is known to produce some of the finest Italian wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco. L.A. Cetto’s Nebbiolo has won twenty-one international medals including a recent gold medal from the Winemakers Association of France and their trophy for “the best red wine of the year.” This private reserve wine is aged in French oak for 14 months and bottle aged for two years, with an alcohol content of 13-14%. It has an intense ruby red color with flashes of garnet, concentrated red and black fruits with undertones of prune, vanilla, spices and wood, mature tannins, velvety, dry and well rounded. This wonderful Baja wine compliments red meat dishes, tomato sauce based entries, strong cheeses and is a “Baja Best Value Wine” with a retail price of about $15. This Nebbiolo is probably the best value for any red wine in Mexico - an absolute steal! Wine tasting here is FREE, they make over twenty different wines, tequila and excellent extra~virgin olive oil at $6 liter or $25 gallon.

As you leave the parking lot of L.A. Cetto, turn left on the dirt road and drive about 500 yards to Doña Lupe Organic winery, deli, and bakery. This is a very popular destination and you’re always greeted with “first class hospitality” by a friendly staff, including their bilingual parrot, Baby. Doña Lupe greets all of her guests with open heart and open arms. She puts loving and creative energy into all her natural and organic jams, jellies, salsas, cookies, pies and wines. She planted the vineyard herself over thirty years ago and has practiced organic and natural farming for several years. Her end of the valley still has some of the purest water in the region, and combined with rich riverbed soil her vineyard produces high quality organic grapes. Gourmet pizza on Saturday/Sunday!

Doña Lupe’s son, Daniel Yi, creates unique and interesting wines. His wines are pure, organic and fantastic! Try his Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Grenache, Merlot and others Don’t miss this beautiful boutique winery. Doña’s daughter, Shirley, is baking some amazing pastries, expanding the organic food selection and gift shop. Open daily from 9 am to 6 p.m.

Hopefully at this point you are safe and sober. If you want to spend the night I suggest the upscale Hotel Hacienda Guadalupe at (646) 151-3273. From L.A. Cetto winery drive back on Highway 3 towards Ensenada, watch for mile maker Km. 81 on the left side. Or, if you are seeking the ultimate in peace and quiet on a 500 acre ranch setting, you should visit Rancho Malagon B&B or Viñedos Malagon at 646 155-2015. In addition to having the most relaxed and excepting atmosphere, one of their wine were given 92 points by Wine Spectator Magazine. And, if you’re on a budget, Plaza Fatima Hotel in San Antonio de las Minas offers rooms for about $50 usd. per night at (646) 192-4531.

This is a wonderful day trip that I’ve developed over the last five years. It’s simple and to the point. But, it can really take several days to explore the region, get to know the people and experience the many high quality wines. I’ve exposed you to to several wineries, ranging from the largest in Latin America (L.A. Cetto) to some amazing artisan winemakers. This is a well-rounded tour that offers visitors the opportunity to discover why everyone is talking about the premier wine country of Baja California. Enjoy!

Steve Dryden is a wine, food, and travel writer living in Mexico’s premier wine country where he guides individual, private, and small group wine tours. He can be reached at sbdryden@hotmail.com or www.bajawineandtours.com

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