Sunday, October 17, 2010

President Obama serves L.A. Cetto can't you give it a try?

L.A.Cetto wines of Mexico were poured at the visit of Mexican President Calderon to Washington. President Obama’s  state dinner menu was created in part by guest chef Rick Bayless, founder of Chicago's Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. The four-course meal featured Oregon Wagyu beef in Oaxacan black mole as the entree. Mr Bayless has been a long time fan of the L.A.Cetto winery serving their wines in his restaurants for many years. At a recent conversation at the Fancy Food show in NY, Bayless spoke about his recent trip to the winery and the tasting of the newest vintages. Twenty cases of L.A.Cetto wine were sent to Washington for the guests of Obama and Calderon to enjoy with the Ambassador . The Double Gold Award winning L.A. Cetto 2004 Nebbiolo was poured in crystal stemware.

Most of us have never heard of L.A. Cetto.  Nor Guadalupe Valley or any of the more than 30 wineries located just an hour outside of Ensenada, Mexico.  But you should get to know La Cetto wines. I know you are thinking what kind of wine will I get coming out of Baja, well if you try La Cetto, great wines, fantastic values!
L.A. Cetto (pronounced Chet-toe) is one of Mexico's largest wine producers. Founded by an Italian, Angelo Cetto and located at the top of the Guadalupe Valley, Cetto has been producing wines (and good ones at that) for almost a century.  Wines that are easy to drink, relatively inexpensive to purchase, and have earned many gold medals over the years.
The vineyards surround the producing facility and are nestled in a beautiful location at the top (northeastern end) of the Valley. The Baja peninsula has a semi-desert climate, but also a cold marine current producing a Mediterranean style climate ideal for growing.  Warm summers and mild winters are complimented by sunny days and cool nights.

Reserva Nebbiolo

The grapes fermented on the skins approximately 15-20 days, followed by aging for 12 to 16 months in 225-liter French oak barrels. This was followed by 2 years additional aging in glass bottles prior to release. Description: Garnet red in color with characteristically orange highlights. There is an intense bouquet and flavor of blackberry, jam, mint, dried plums, raspberries, roses, spices, tobacco, vanilla and violets. It is dry and medium-bodied with a surprising gentleness. 

Petite Sirah

I've also had the opportunity to taste the Petite Sirah.  It is 100% Petite Sirah, barrel aged for six months and then bottle aged for 6 months prior to release.  It has an dark ruby red color guaranteed to stain your teeth after just one glass. The aroma is intense, with dark red fruits and a spicy character to highlight the hints of lavender. This wine has nice mature tannins that balance its fruit and a finish characteristic of this varietal.   
The dark violet color serves as a perfect reminder that Petite Sirah, should never be confused with Shiraz or Syrah.  Shiraz and Syrah are the same varital. Shiraz, is what you will find Australians call their Syrah.  Possibly named after the city of Shiraz in ancient Persia where the varietal originated.  Shiraz and Syrah are synonymous.  Syrah is the name of the varietal you will find in Rhone and California. 
When you get to Rhone you find the one commonality, that Syrah and Petite Sirah are both Rhone varietals but that is where the similarity ends. They are not related. French viticulturists who examined Petite Sirah plantings in the 1970s told the growers that what they had was definitely not Syrah, but rather a grape called Durif (sometimes spelled "Duriff"), a variety grown in tiny quantities in southeastern France and which was named after a Dr. Durif, who first propagated the grape around 1880 in the Rhone Valley.  In France Petite Sirah, known for a shorter finish is mainly used as a blending grape. 
So to recap: Syrah and Petite Sirah (or Petite Syrah) are not made from the same grape; and Shiraz is the same wine as Syrah, but with an Australian attitude.

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