May Wine Notes

May, 2023 – May I?

Mexico, as a wine producing region, holds two distinctions –the home of some of the oldest wine growing estates in the Americas and a rising star in the world of contemporary, new world wines. Despite its proximity to the equator, vineyards look for elevation to fight the heat with cooler evenings and slow ripening.  The more arid climates help resistance to mildew and rot, but also require irrigation — wine growing here requires patience and innovation. A wide variety of French, Spanish, and Italian varietals are found growing in the wine regions of Mexico — some even dating back hundred of years, planted by monks.

This month’s offering includes two Mexican wine offerings, hailing from some of the best known and eldest estates — but we’re keeping it light, digging in with rosé of shiraz, and a playful and round white. Look down below for a meaty Chilean Syrah, floral dry Moscatel, pretty bubbles, and an old school L’Oca fav. 

Rosé of Shiraz? Chilean Syrah? Shiraz and Syrah are technically the same cultivar. The distinction tends to be based on location — Syrah in France (and other European producers) and Shiraz in Australia. The distinction can be broadened to refer to spirit and style though. Syrah indicating cooler climates — offering white pepper, green herbs, meatiness, decent acid and medium body. Shiraz indicating warmer climate — higher alcohol, riper fruit, zesty, jammy and ready to get down. But really, what’s in a name anyway? It’s what’s in your heart, or in your glass that really matters, right? Que Syrah Shiraz ;P 

– Eva

Casa Madero Rosado 2022
Grapes: Shiraz
Region: Valle de Parras, Mexico

Located in the Valle de Parras in northern Mexico and founded in 1597, Casa Madero contains the oldest vineyards in the Americas. The vineyards were originally planted by the Spanish for both wine and brandy production — and now cultivated to produce a range of refreshing and contemporary offerings. 

The Casa Madero Rosado’s  bright and fruity profile bursts with strawberry, mango, pomegranate — playing the classic jam notes of a warmer climate shiraz — in an easy drinking, not quite as boozy, rosé all day form.  It may start tight coming out of the bottle, the bright acidity shouting over the florals and fruits, but with a little air, it opens up to a great welcoming pitch for patio season. 

Santo Tomás “Misión” Vino Blanco ‘21
Grapes: 50/50 Chenin Blanc & Colombard
Region: Valle de Santo Tomás, Mexico

Bodegas Santo Tomás was the first winery established in the state of Baja California, with its original vines planted in 1791 by Dominican Friars at the Misión de Santo Tomás de Aquino (the wine they produced was used for religious purposes). It’s location, 40 miles south of the Valle de Guadalupe, boasts a slightly cooler climate than its northern neighbor, and the grapes are allowed to slowly ripen over the longer growing season. Today it’s one of the largest wine producers in Mexico, Laura Zamora, the country’s first female head winemaker, has lead Santo Tomas in winning a generous amounts of medals, awards,  and accolade. Zamora teaches, as well as operates Casa Zamora, where she mentors the next generation of Mexican wine makers. 

Silky texture and pleasingly round, the Misión 21 offers up quince, guava and lemony citrus with, magnolia, chamomile, and a touch of something honeyed. Its clarity in purpose and dancing balancing acid have been encouraged by the all stainless aging — a great wine to chill with on its own, or a great compliment for light pastas or seafood.  

Villard Expression Reserve ‘19
Grape: 100 % Syrah 
Region: Casablanca Valley, Chile

Villard Fine Wines was established in 1989 by Thierry Villard as Chile’s first family premium boutique wine company, located in the area’s premier cool climate region for grape growing. Villard introduces innovative  techniques to encourage structure and elegance, while showcasing the unique characteristics of the Valley’s particular terroir, 

Aged in a combination of American oak, French oak, and steel — the Villard Syrah brings forth notes of red berries, mint, eucalyptus — and even a touch of bacon and black pepper–with balanced and well integrated tannins and acidity. The wine would love steak off the grill, or even molé or a good Texas chile;)

Botani Old Vines Moscatel 21′
Grape: 100 % Muscat of Alexandria
Region: Sierras de Malaga, Spain

Jorge Ordóñez Málaga was founded in 2004 to revitalize the tradition of unfortified sweet winemaking in Málaga. Despite this focus, Jorge and Alois Kracher were inspired to produce a fresh and dry Moscatel from the mountain vineyards of the Axarquía. Botani was the first dry Moscatel made in Spain in modern times, resurrecting the tradition of Málaga’s historic “Mountain Wines.” This wine inspired a new generation of dry aromatic white wines produced from Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

In fact, there seems to be a growing trend in production of dry whites in the Muscat family — from as far reaching as Sicily in Italy, and Oregon, here in the States. Muscat of Alexandria is the oldest variety in the Muscat family and one of the few remaining genetically unmodified vitis vinifera cultivars remaining in the world today. The Phoenicians transplanted this grape from Alexandria, Egypt to Málaga approximately 2,800 years ago.

Vibrant straw in color, wildly expressive — oodles of apricot, jasmine, orange blossom, leading into bright and balanced lime. 

I Castelli ‘1530 Romeo e Giulletta’ Rosé Prosecco NV 
Grape: Glera, with just a touch of Pinot Nero 
Region: Veneto, IT

In 1530 Luigi Da Porto wrote this first draft of his novel about doomed lovers Romeo & Giulletta, inspired by the nearby castles of Montecchi and Capuleti (a while later some other guy wrote a play about it, of course). I Castelli takes inspiration from Porto’s inspiration. The rosé prosecco offers passion and romance, without the bloodshed. 

The wine itself is pretty with a pleasant fizz, roses, berries and cream vibes the whole way down. It makes a lovely apertivi at the beginning of the meal, or a playful nightcap — it that’s more your vibe. 

Visintini  ’20
Grape: Franconia (known in Austria as Blaufrankish)
Region: Venezia Giulia, IT

The wines of Visintini are produced by sisters Andrea, Cinzia, Palmira and Oliviero Visintini. Their estate, once the location of the Castle of Gramogliano, has been in their family since 1884 — though wine history in the region goes back much further. 

Visintini practices biodynamics in the vineyard, and produces lively wines with minimal intervention. The violets on the label are a giveaway to the playful purple of the flavor profile inside the bottle. Vibrant dark fruit is matched by lively and bouncy acidity and, yes, even overtones of violets. This Northern Italian delight has been a L’Oca favorite for years, finding its way on and off our list again and again.