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Mexican Wine.........

I had some outstanding Mexican wine at One and Only Palmilla last month in San Jose Del Cabo. It's Grand Reserva Casa Grande..........I can't locate any in the U. S. Any ideas. Thanks...........

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  1. Perhaps you mean the Cabernet from Casa Madero in the Parras valley?

    You could always email or phone the restaurant. That'd clear things up fast.
    Did you dine at the "C" [Charlie Trotter] restaurant or Agua?

    1. "Grand Reserva Casa Grande"
      Great Reserve of the Big House???

      4 Replies
      1. re: zin1953

        It's the jailbirds' top swill.

        Seriously, I think Casa Grande is a vineyard designation.

        1. re: zin1953

          Sounds like something Randall Grahm would love! Bonny Doon already had a Big House Red from the vineyards near the Soledad Prison - why not a "Grand Reserve Big House Red"?

          1. re: zin1953

            More info on Casa Madera @ http://www.madero.com.mx/pages/princi...

            Maria is correct... its a vineyard designation... referring to the terroir surrounding the main home & the property. There are also vineyards around a smaller building... presumably housing for the Hacienda's employees or perhaps a concubine (Casa Chica usually would refer to this).... I believe now a days its an orphanage.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Eat Nopal, deep in the recesses of my memory I recall your talking about the history of Casa Madero. Couldn't remember where or how...Then I found your post..nice job...

          2. While we're on the subject...

            Mexican Petit Syrah? Anyone?

            5 Replies
            1. re: BaileysMom521

              I've only had one . . . that was in Mexico, and it wasn't very good. Then again, the storage conditions in rural Mexico aren't the best, so . . . .

              1. re: zin1953

                I attended a Guadalupe Valley tasting this spring with about 20 producers. I was quite surprised at how tasty the L.A. Cetto PS was.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  That was what I had . . . it tasted, to my palate, more like Central Valley fruitthan, say Central Coast . . .

                  1. re: zin1953

                    I thought the L.A. Cetto PS was a good effort. It's not a stellar PS but for $9 or so, might be a good value for some.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      FWIW... as Vin Ordinaire... i think the Domecq & Cetto stuff is fine if you are at Sanborn's or some neighborhood Barbacoa place and that is what they have by the glass. However, in general Mexican wines are NOT a good value at the low end.... and that is why Mexico is still dominated by Chilean & Spanish wines at the lower price points.

                      Where I think Mexican wines do well is a little more on the high end.... they can be a good value versus Napa & French wines.

            2. I have the idea that it is not available in the United States. Another idea would be to forget about it until you are back where you had it.

              There are so many wonderful wines, IMO it is not worth the expenditure of any time to find one that you had in some foreign location on a special occasion. Truth is, often that same wine tastes very different when you are not in a fine beachfront restaurant under the tropical sun.

              1. Casa Madero Gran Reserva Casa Grande appears to be available in Texas:


                I had some great wines at Laja in the Guadalupe Valley, but the chef said that the best ones are available only at the winery, a few restaurants nearby, and in Mexico City.


                1. On a related note, I had a wonderful white from Chateau Camou from Guadalupe Valley at Parallel 33 when I was visiting San Diego. Really fantastic, full bodied white. I have never found anywhere to buy it in the U.S., but if you live in SD, I'd definitely recommend trying it!

                  29 Replies
                  1. re: jonasblank

                    Mexican wines are not easily found in San Diego and CA. There are import laws in place to protect the CA wine industry. If you can find Mexican wines in SD they are spendy. My source is a wine industry professional, owner of Wines of Mexico, who works with the wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      If there are laws intended to protect the California wine industry, they're not doing much to block the supply of imports from Europe, South America, and Australia.

                      The best Guadalupe wines are startlingly expensive even there, so they'd be a hard sell in the U.S.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I know, it didn't make much sense to me either, particularly in light of NAFTA and the other foreign imports. Perhaps it has something to do with the V de G's geographical proximity to CA.

                        Wines from the Valle de Guadalupe aren't exactly inexpensive south of the border either. I found a fairly large selection (mostly Monte Xanic, Chauteau Camou and L.A. Cetto) at an H*E*B in Monterrey, prices were high even with a favorable conversion factor. OTOH, I bought a bottle of L.A. Cetto in Cuernavaca this past January and it was pretty inexpensive, less than $10USD

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          I don't know how this would play out... but I remember reading that the vast majority of grapes used by the wineries around San Diego (namely Temecula)... historically came from V de G... so I wonder if there is some weird historical barrier to the value-added product... but not the grapes. After all look at how California's avocado growers have bent over backwards to keep the Michoacanian fruit out of their major markets.

                          There might also be something cultural about it. Many enophiles that I have met, are recent converts... and I have noticed this penchant for all things French & Italian... somehow the image of Mexican wines could threaten their perception of wine as the beverage of great, first world nations... and then the dirty Mexicans have to come & burst their bubble etc.,

                          Even people I have hosted for dinners, who love Mexican cuisine and are also wine lovers... seem to be bothered when I serve Mexican wines. At one point, I thought maybe they just didn't like the wines down there... but some of those wines have taken important hardware in the most important European wine festivals (including the big one in France)... so I don't think that they are that horrible... and that I cut them some slack because I was born there.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            The hard-to-find wines I had at Laja were in terms of flavor comparable to French wines of similar style, but if they were competing head-to-head on price here in California, the French wines would be much better values.

                            I think there is a certain amount of nationalist pride involved. Mexico makes a very limited amount of fine wine and rich Mexicans are willing to pay a premium for it.

                            Could also be that Mexico imposes high import tariffs so the French wines are less affordable there.

                          2. re: DiningDiva

                            Cetto is mass-market plonk, sort of like Gallo in California.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Cetto & Domecq are definitely the two biggest producers... their entry level wines go for about $3 to $5 a bottle... but both have Private Reserves that are more dignified.

                              The best at Cetto (a winery of Italian heritage)... are the Italian inspired wines. They are much harder to come by.

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                The nebbiolo Reserva Privada's the only Italian-seeming wine I find on their Web site. The rest seem to be patterned after French and California wines--they even have white zinfandel and petite sirah!


                                I've found that the better Cetto and Domecq releases are too California-influenced for my taste. When in Mexico, I prefer some of the Chilean wines available there.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Have you tried Casa Madero, Chateau Camou or some of the Monte Xanics? I remember them being much more like European wines... I am particularly remembering a Camou Cabernet Franc, a Monte Xanic Sauvigon Blanc... and all the Casa Maderos are much more like European wines than California wines, IMO.

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    I've had some of Monte Xanic's wines, never very impressed.

                                    The only truly fine Mexican wines I've had were at Laja, and they were from Adobe Guadalupe, Agrifolia, Casa de Piedra, and Couttolenc Bueno.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Alot of the Mexican wineries are very, very young & just getting their grove so I think there is going to be significant variation from one vintage to another.

                                      Monte Xanic's 2004 Sauvignon Blanc is one of the best I've had in the last year.

                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        Monte Xanic is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. That's not so young. The Adobe Guadalupe we had at Laja was a 1994.

                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    L.A. Cetto's Nebbiolo blend is quite nice. I mentioned the PS above. IMO, these two are their best wines.
                                    Monte Xanic's Aglianico-Nebbiolo blend is also enjoyable -- well balanced and beautifully structured.
                                    Another standout among the Guadalupe Valley tasting: the '05 Roganto Tempranillo.

                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                              my understanding is that there is a significant, i've been told up to 25%, tax imposed on wine by the Mexican government. the beer producers wanted a price advantage and got it, or so I've been told...

                              1. re: ibstatguy

                                During the financial debacle of 1994/1995.... Mexico (which embarrasingly has the 2nd lowest taxes in the new world after Haiti)... enacted a luxury retail tax in that magnitude. I still remember how tequila was cheaper at Costco & Trader Joe's than just about anywhere in Mexico. Now I have seen Tequila prices return to normalcy there (of course they got more expensive here with the weakening dollar)... so I am thinking the luxury tax was phased out, or reduced.

                                However, I wouldn't be surprised if the very powerful beer industry did pull something like that.... as they will stoop to very low levels (as demostrated when they waged sociocultural war on Pulque in the first half of the 1900s).

                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  In Guadalajara, tequila's much cheaper at Costco or Sam's Club than anywhere else. Way cheaper than in the US. On the other hand, at the shop with the biggest selection, some high-end tequilas are more expensive than in the US.

                                  Mexico's taxes are low because the government gets revenues from the oil monopoly.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Taxes on wine are not low in Mexico............nor are they on Tequila. Do you realize that wine pays 25% to 30% alcohol tax to the Mexican government and 50% on Tequila......Duty on imports can be from 0 to 30% and the sales tax in Mexico is 15%...........They tax on everything here.
                                    You really have to know the ins and outs of the spirits, wine and beer industry to know why and what for the prices are as they are...........

                                  2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    Nothing has been reduced as far as alcohol taxs in Mexico since 1988.

                                  3. re: ibstatguy

                                    Even Mexican wines pay 25% alcohol tax here...............read the General Agreement on trades and tarifs which Mexico is a part of.

                                  4. re: DiningDiva

                                    Hell Baja Wines aren't easily found in Baja either! A few trips back I made a trip to Enseneda without hitting the local mega marts or wine shops thinking the prices & selections would be better in of Tijuana's suburbs. BIG Mistake.... yeah selection was better, but only for French & Spanish wines.... all they had were the Domecq & Cetto vinos ordinarios.

                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                      >>> There are import laws in place to protect the CA wine industry. <<<

                                      Care to cite specifics? I know of none that would apply to what you are suggesting.

                                      >>> Mexican wines are not easily found in San Diego and CA. <<<

                                      They aren't that easy to find in Mexico! (Especially once you get out of Mexico City or the Valle de Guadalupe.) Beer is everywhere, but every restaurant I have ever been in . . . IF they have wine . . . have far moreselections from Chile and Argentina than they do from Mexico itself.

                                        1. re: zin1953

                                          Forgive my tardiness in responding to this question. I only just stumbled on Chowhound while building a list of current Baja California wineries (sixty so far and still not finished).

                                          Most Baja winemakers of my acquaintance complain that NAFTA did not bring them the open borders they were expecting. Customs duties are only a small part of the equation, as they have pointed out to me -- evidently, it is now more expensive to satisfy the NAFTA paperwork requirements than it was to pay the duty.

                                          Add to that the unequal market position. In the Mexican market, wine is what polo ponies are to the U.S. -- little more than an upper-class affectation. The rich family in every telenovela (soap opera) pours red wine from Bordeaux bottles for the fish course. The middle class, which writes these telenovelas, has no contact with wine. So Mexican wines are made by and for people with lots of money to throw around. The market for super-premium wine in the U.S., on the other hand, rides the coattails of the premium and ordinary markets. Baja has very little of that to offer.

                                          Mexican wines are found in Mexico but only where the upper class is also found. The top ten wineries, at least, have sales agents in Guadalajara, Puebla, Monterrey, Acapulco, Cuernavaca, Cancún ... here in Tijuana you can get a good thirty esoteric labels at GSalinas so long as you bring your letter of credit with you.

                                          Finding Mexican wines in the U.S. really depends on whether the winery works with a U.S. distributor or not. Getting the stuff through Customs is just a protectionist hurdle: the real concern all wineries face is in getting their stock onto foreign shelves. Cetto has been in the U.S. for ages, Santo Tomás is probably still allied with Mondavi, and Viña Liceaga [VEE-nyah lee-SAY-ah-gah] is handled by Kodiak Imports in San Diego, douglas(at)kodiakimports(dot)com. That's off the top of my head; I expect Xanic, Camou, and Domecq are also available.

                                          The trick to getting this wine is in identifying the importer. Then you call the importer and ask about the retail outlets in your area. There probably will not be any. If not, ask them what their sales minimum is and whether a case can be mixed. Then you go to your favorite local retail outlet and ask them to buy you that amount cash upfront. You might pique the wine shop's interest enough to where they'll consider stocking some or even inviting you in to host a Mexican tasting night.

                                          The reason why restaurants here in Mexico have more Chilean wines on their lists than Mexican wines is because of the pricing. Today's Chilean wines are the work of Fritz Maytag (Anchor Steam Beer), who was in Chile in the seventies and eighties creating an industry to serve a more oenophilic culture. Restaurants in oenophilic cultures tend to sell twenty times more house wine than fancy bottles and Maytag made sure Chile could supply a lot of respectable house wine. Guadalupe Valley is almost all fancy bottles.

                                          I hope I have been able to answer your questions satisfactorily. And that you're still around to read this.

                                          1. re: Xolotl

                                            Regarding what you say about NAFTA I disagree. It is no more difficult to import wine from Mexico to the US as it is Italy, France, Spain or any other country for that matter. Labels do have to be registered with the BATF but they always have been for everyone.........basically the wineries from Mexico have to find an importer in the US to import their wine and once the label registration is done thats it. Most Mexican botique wineries do not have the resources to go to the states and promote their wine let alone in Mexico or find importers who are willing to buy inventory on a product that may or may not sell. You also have to have an importer in Mexico to import wine just as in the States. The taxes that were in place before NAFTA are the same and also the same for all countries exporting to the US. There never have been dutys on wine from Mexico to the US..........All wine even US wine pays Federal Excise tax based upon the alcohol volume of the wine which about $3.20 US per case what ever the cost of the wine be it either Chateau Lafite or a $20.00 US case of wine from Chile. However in Mexico right now there is a 20% duty on wine coming in from the US plus an alcohol tax of 25% up to 14 degrees alcohol and 30% if it is over 14% alcohol plus sales tax of 15% all of these taxes are based upon the price per case of the wine not alcohol volume. So regarding protectionism it is not in favor of Imports into Mexico even with NAFTA period.
                                            The biggest problem for Mexican wineries sending wine to the US is three fold........first the lack of knowledge by Americans of Mexican wine, even the importer-distributors do not understand the industry here which with the new boom of botique wineries in Mexico is a 'Mexican' entity at this point. Second the lack of quantity in cases by any of the botique wineries to have enough to export, except maybe Xanic, Casa Madero or Santo Tomas. Third the price quality is out of balance on many of the botique wines from Mexico.

                                              1. re: wineman3

                                                I also agree with this.On your third point, it is also the Mexican government that jacks that price up with their high taxes on the wine makers which make up about 35% or more of the retail price.

                                                1. re: wineman3

                                                  WineMan3 - I am intending to starting a wine import business with a focus on Mexican wines - I have been working in the Ensenada region for the better part of a year and during that time came to love many of the wines. I live in the Northeastern part of the US and there isn't a drop to be had. I was wondering if you would be willing to talk to me more directly about the challenges faced by the vineyards in the region when dealing with the export process.



                                        2. In my experience the best Mexican wines are made by Monte Xanic from the Guadalupe Valley. I've had Camou wines but wasn't impressed with them...I haven't had Laja, but but there are some small wineries in the G. Valley that seem to be developing fast and becoming more sophisticated every year, so I wouldn't be surprised if there are now others in the Monte Xanic mold. Time to make a pass through that area again....

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Mr. Cookie

                                            There are definitely better wineries than Monte Xanic in the Guadalupe Valley these days.

                                            Laja's not a winery, it's a restaurant with a great wine list.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Like I said, it's been too long since I've made a pass thru that area...Is the food at Laja any good?

                                              My expectations are always pretty low when I drink Mexican wines. But I had a Monte Xanic white -- probably a sauvignon blanc -- last year that was pretty good. Mexican reds have pretty much left me cold across the board.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Agreed Camou and Monte Xanic are not important wines anymore.Currently there are 50 producers and about 150 labels currently in the Valle de Guadalupe.

                                                Try JC Bravo's Carignan, Casa de Piedra, Vinesterra's Pedregal, Paralelo,El Porvenir's Sauvignan Blanc, Mogor Badan, Pijoan, EMEVE is nice, Tres Valles, Filidith, Cavas Valmar, Roganto, and so many more.

                                                Go to the G. Salinas wine shop in Zona Rio, Tijuana and get a look at a whole lot of bottles you never heard of, and the ones I've mentioned here.

                                                In Ensenada, Benito Molina's restaurants Muelle Tres and Manzanilla always have great selections on hand. The former Rincon del Parque restaurant in Ensenada now run by Gloria D'Acosta has a great wine shop, too, right by Parque Revolucion.

                                                The restaurants in the Gastronomic Zone in Tijuana all have pretty good wine lists especially Villa Saverios, La Querencia, and Cheripan.

                                                L.A. Cetto has some value wines that are on most menus, but look beyond the Domecq's, Cetto's, and Tomas', or the Xanic's and Camou's.Old news.I like to get a bottle off the lists at G. Salinas and pay the corkage. If you really want to get a handle on the many wines now being produced.

                                                1. re: streetgourmetla

                                                  I do not think anyone should look beyond wines such as Monte Xanic as old......in fact compared to the others that streetgoumelta mentions Valmar is older than Xanic as far as how long it has been around. Additionaly the prices of most of those that are mentioned are not and I repeat not worth the money that you pay for them. But making a broad statement that Monte Xanic is not an important wine because it has been around since longer than most is not correct. It is a better value than Piedra, Badan, Pijoan, Roganto and so many more.
                                                  Best bang for the buck does not even come from Valle de Guadalupe but from the oldest winery in the Americas..........Casa Madero from Parras Valley started in 1597.........so just because its new and expensive does not always mean its good product or good value. I have been in the wine business for 30 yearrs and 20 of it in Mexico and if it were not for Monte Xanic a lot of others would not be around.

                                                  1. re: wineman3

                                                    Wasn't talking about the age of wineries, specifically. In the 80's Monte Xanic and Chateau Camou were breakout wineries, but there are a lot more now. I enjoy the wines I'm tasting as of late much more that the Monte Xanic and Camou wines, even the older Valmar. I'm well aware of the ages of the wineries in Baja and have been to just about every place that serves wine in the Valle.

                                                    A glass of El Porvenir's sauvignon blanc at Muelle Tres is pretty inexpensive. I said nothing about it being good because it's expensive.

                                                    I respect Camou and Xanic tremendously, and yes, they startes the whole boutique winery thing, there are just so many great wines available now that people should check out. I'm talking about wine lists that have these other wines, and not just the usual suspects. I like wines from Cetto, S. Tomas,Xanic, Camou,and Domecq(at times). I love the semillon from Casa Madero.I like Piedra better that Xanic or Camou though, regardless of a few bucks more. Casa Madero isn't available so much in Baja, I usually get it in Mexico City, but best buys are not always my primary concern. But, you're right, the mid-size and larger wineries deliver more values, but I'll still be pouring that J.C. Bravo.

                                                    The by the glass prices in Ensenada for these wines is quite reasonable. Have you been down lately?

                                            2. e-mail daniel.milmo@casamadero.com.mx He is the owner, speaks and writes English and will be glad to tell you where to buy in the states. It is there.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: wineman3

                                                NEW NEW NEW GREAT WINE FROM BAJA

                                                MONTIFIORI !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                              2. Some tasting notes from the last couple of weeks. The ones with prices listed I bought at the great new wine shop La Contra Vinos in Guadalajara, they have branches in Tijuana, Ensenada, and elsewhere. Almost all Mexican wines of limited production, mostly from Guadalupe, plus a few wines made in France by Mexican wineries.


                                                L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo: this is my ex-pat friend's everyday wine. Reliable, good, relatively reasonable price. Too oaky for me.

                                                Monte Xanic Chenin Blanc: off-dry, good acid, if I'd tasted blind I've have taken it for a Vouvray. Great if you like that style. I don't know what it cost in Mexico but it's $12 at Baja Wines in San Diego.

                                                Badan Chasselas de Mogor 2010 12.3% $263 ($20): could pass for French, fruity, tart, simple, everyday southern style

                                                Viñas Pijoan Silvana 2011 (48% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Chenin Blanc, Moscatel 12%) 11.6% $228 ($17): Could pass for Sonoma, similar value; fruity nose, fruity and slightly Maasia-herbal on palate, tart, dry finish

                                                Viñas Pijoan Paulinha 2010 (55% Zinfandel, 15% Merlot, 15% Petite Sirah, 15% Barbera) 13.3% $228 ($17): delicate, tasty, food-friendly


                                                Casa de Piedra Espuma de Piedra Barbera (blanc de noirs) NV 12.5% $390 ($29): lovely pinkish-orange color, cava-like nose, a bit sweet on the palate, slightly grapefruity sour-sweet finish; okay but way overpriced

                                                JC Bravo Palomino 2011 10.6% $186 ($14): somewhat herbal / rosemary nose like Malvasia; light, fruity, very dry, slight tannin & acid, slightly oxidized? But not unpleasantly so; slightly piney finish; if tasted blind, would probably have guessed Greek. Not reminiscent of Spanish Palominos I've had

                                                Viñas de Garza Blanco del Rancho Mogorcito 2011 (Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnay) 12.5% $263 ($20): good gooseberry / cat pee, nice acid, tasty, pleasant, could pass for Napa / Sonoma, similarly (over)priced


                                                Agrifolia Quinto Bueno Ulloa 2010 (Sauvignon Blanc & Moscato Canelli) 13.3% $245 ($18): fruity, nice balance between varieties, decent acid, finish a bit flabby

                                                Sinergi Coco Rosé 2010 (Muscat Canelli & Grenache) 12.0% $255 ($19): nose like strawberry jam, watery cooked fruit palate, short finish

                                                Adobe Guadalupe Uriel Rosado 2010 (Cinsault, Tempranillo, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Moscatel) 11.1% $241 ($18): unbalanced, lacks acid

                                                Fratelli Pasini Artigiano Grenache & Tempranillo 2010 13% $254 ($19): light nose, hint of lychee; palate, intense spices (anise, allspice, clove); short finish

                                                Viñas Pijoan Domenica 2008 (90% 35-year-old Grenache, 5% Petite Sirah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 months in barrique) 13.8% $326 ($25): oak juice, undrinkable to my taste (other people drank it but thought it was over-the-top oaky)


                                                Moebius Antitesis 2011 (Monastrell, Moscatel, Syrah) 11% $239: very light, like a rosé; mostly muscat on palate; unpleasant bitter finish; dumped

                                                La Contra, José Guadalupe Zuno Hernández 2129, Obrera, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México

                                                2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Baja Wines, a San Diego retailer, has a bunch of Baja wines that to my knowledge are not available elsewhere in the US, including Xanic and Pijoan: http://buy.winesfrombaja.com

                                                    They also sell wholesale: http://www.winesfrombaja.com/informat...