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Château Defay - Guatemala's first winery

rworange Aug 23, 2010 08:38 PM

Château Defay is a 3,000 case winery and vineyard located in Santa Maria de Jesus/Antigua, Guatemala. The former coffee farm was purchased in 2000 and converted into a vinyard. The first release was in 2007.

Jacques and Angie Defay are the owners/winemakers of Château Defay Vineyards and the resident winemaker is Bruno Coppola.

Here's an article about the winery
http://www.degustantigua.com/en/chate...

They currently offer four wines: Angie's Blend, Chardonnay, White Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot

The winery is open for tastings Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
http://www.fincadefay.com/

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm going to Antigua this weekend and will report back. I'll have to visit it as it is located on the slopes of Agua Volcano ... which I can see out my window.

Thought I'd post in the unlikley event that someone has tried the wine and can let me know what to expect.

I wonder if it will taste of coffee.

Restaurant and Bar record
http://www.chow.com/restaurants/91830...

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  1. rworange RE: rworange Aug 26, 2010 09:38 PM

    The wines were surprisingly drinkable and pleasant. We stopped by their restaurant in Antigua and got to taste three whites, two roses and two reds.

    I’m not even going to pretend I know very much about wine. However, I spent the last couple of decades in the SF Bay area and at the least can identify a good wine. I won’t notice all the subtleties, but usually can appreciate a good wine, despite all my trash talk on the boards about drinking cheap wine.

    I wasn’t expecting too much The year I worked in Mexico . I switched to beer, The Mexican wines at that time were pure swill and undrinkable, IMO,

    Wine lists are not a strength in Guatemala. At least not those I’ve seen so far. What is usually served is of cheap boxed wine quality, even in better restaurants. I’ve switched over to beer again … particularly micheladas (the beer version of the Bloody Mary)

    So, though it is faint praise … and these wines deserve more than that … they are better than almost anything else served at other restaurants. That is surprising for such a young winery.

    They are a little over-priced at about $20. I’d place them in the category of decent $10 - $12 bottles in the SF Bay Area.

    However, given the circumstances, I don’t mind paying that and I’ll pay a little extra for the novelty factor of Guatemala’s only winery. I’d rather take these home as a trip memento rather than a lot of the bad mass-produced ‘native’ crafts pushed on tourists.

    Here’s my thoughts

    Whites

    There were three whites

    Santa Maria Blanc – the driest wine and a nice wine in that category.

    Family White - From what I’ve read this is a semi-sweet wine with a blend of honey wine and Pinot Grigio. It wasn’t all that sweet and pleasant.

    Angie’s Blend – definitely a sweet desert wine. My friend liked this the best and ordered that to drink.

    Rose

    Both roses were … well … roses. I don’t remember which I preferred, but I think this is the weak category. The roses were

    Claret
    White Merlot

    Red

    Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – this was a bit of tannin in it and needed to age a bit more or be paired with an assertive dish

    There are three more reds on their wine list. I lost the photo and I don’t remember which was offered. However, it was what I chose with dinner. It was a blend of three grapes and the dominant taste was berries. I enjoyed it. It was one of these.

    Don Jacques
    Family Red
    Don Jacques Reserva

    Anyway, I’ll be interested to see how their next bottling turns out. I’ll probably stop by the winery which is near-ish my house … can’t seem to escape wine country no matter where I live. However, I’ll probably wait till rainy season is over before tackling that 5 km ride over dirt roads up the side of a volcano.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange
      Gussie Finknottle RE: rworange Aug 27, 2010 04:19 AM

      Fascinating -- thanks for sharing

      1. re: rworange
        Tripeler RE: rworange Aug 27, 2010 06:12 AM

        RW, this is a very interesting story, indeed. Thanks for bringing it to Chowhound.

      2. kaysyrahsyrah RE: rworange Aug 30, 2010 10:54 PM

        I've tried them, and I think you're being very generous in your reviews. Geographically, there's just no way that Guatemala can produce world-class wines, and lean on rum and beer instead.

        When in Guatemala, perhaps local wine is a good call for variety's sake, and because South American and USA wines are so ridiculously expensive.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kaysyrahsyrah
          rworange RE: kaysyrahsyrah Aug 31, 2010 08:42 AM

          I never said they were world class. I said they were surprisingly drinkable.

          Especially compared to the swill Mexico produces. Yes, yes, I have heard they are better these days, but in the early days they were horrid. So for a wiinery with only two bottlings under their belt, these were good.

          I also wasn't talking about price in terms of local menus either. I was talking about quality. As good as I've seen from California is Beringer. I'd rather drink Guatemalan wines that that stuff. And from Berringer it slides down quickly to the lesser quality wines.

          Other than Conches y Torres, I'm not really familiar with South American wines, so maybe the wines on the local menus are better than what is represented in the US though I would doubt it. It is not a wine culture.

          So I never said it was more than it was ... a young winery putting out a product better than boxed wine and comparable to a $10 bottle of wine one would get off the shelves of Safeway in California. And in those boxed wines I'd include the over-hyped, over-priced Black Box which isn't all that.

          The geography of Guatemala is extremely varied. It can get very cold in the mountainous regions. Even seaside regions have their pockets of micro climates similar to Monterrey. It will never snow here, but it doesn't snow in Lodi either.

          Central America is one of the top five exporters in the world for table grapes. So grapes do grow here. It isn't all pineapples and mangoes.
          http://www.freshcaliforniagrapes.com/...

          Given all that, I think this is really a vanity winery. While prices are not expensive here, I'm still amazed by the amount of money that has been poured into this project.

          I also stated I'm an unsophisticated wine drinker. While I eschew the likes of Sutter Home and Carlo Rossi, I rarely stray over the $10 bottle range. My criteria is that wine is a pleasant companion to my meal or with a little cheese. I have neither the patience or the bucks to be throwing money at the more expensive wines. My experience with the better wines comes through buying glasses at upscale restaurants and letting the staff guide the choices.

          So, for my tastes, Chateau Defay is just fine.

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