Uncovering the Palette of Baja

Posted on 14 November 2008

by K.L. Riley

Last Friday was a normal Friday for me with one exception. An incredible wine I didn’t know existed was made available for me to drink. I bellied up to the bar of one of my favorite restaurants in Scottsdale and asked for a bottle of wine for 70 dollars. This particular restaurant (Cowboy Ciao) has one of the most extensive wine lists In Arizona so I usually ask the bartenders for a bottle in my price range instead of trying to find one bottle on a 2600 bottle wine list. The bottle was a Mexican wine called Gabriel by wine maker Adobe Guadalupe.
I learned that 90 percent of quality wines of Mexico come from Northern Baja California, just above the 30th parallel, centering on the city of Ensenada. There are many wine growing sub regions within this area. They all lie close to the pacific where they benefit from a misty ocean breeze that cools the berries during the day, and night.  All of these factors make northern Baja prime for classic grape growing combinations helping the fruit to develop sugars without a drop in acidity.
The Gabriel is a Cabernet, Merlot blend and it is a perfect balance between old world and new world palates. The first observation I made was the deepness in color; A dark deep purple red with thick legs. I found the bouquet to have overwhelming old world characteristics. There isn’t much fruit on this nose, a subtle hint of cherry, rhubarb, and baking spices accompanied by an explosion of earth. I could smell the granite soil in Baja as well as a slight hint of barnyard. The first sensation on the tongue was absolute dryness. The kind of dryness that coats your entire mouth just waiting for complimentary food such as goat cheese, lamb, or pork. The fruit didn’t start to come into play until the bottle had been opened for about 15 minutes and it was splendid! The delicateness of the fruit is what I found most shocking with aromas of dark raspberry, black cherries, lush fruit, and pepper.  Unbelievable!  It is the perfect ratio of dryness and tannins to fruit and acidity, a model of Mexican wine making at its highest capacity.
Now that I have tasted a wine from Baja I am excited to drink as many wines as possible, from that region, and look forward to sharing all of them with you. One of the many attributes to wine that always keeps me on my feet is that there is never a point when you know everything there is to know about wine. As long as we are alive we will always learn about new wines, varietals and wine making techniques because like humans wine is always evolving and reinventing itself.

Wine quote of the week;
Wine buffs write and talk as though the food and wine will be in your mouth at the same time that one is there to be poured over the other.  This is bullshit.  Gustatory enjoyment comes from food and wine and cigars of your liking.  So far no one has said that a Monte Cristo is the only cigar to smoke after Armagnac, Romeo and Juliet after Calvados … but the time may yet come.
Clement Freud
“…No-one Else Has Complained”

Categorized | Wine Lover