Spirits of the Season 2013 will bring you the hottest new recipes, spirits and wines from the coolest distilleries, vineyards, restaurants and bars all across the globe!Mexico is the last place we expected to produce some fine wines, but they proved us all wrong. Monte Xanic made its name in the 1980’s as one of Mexico’s first boutique wineries, overseen by oenologist, Hans Backhoff, and now his son, Hans Backhoff, Jr.
Monte Xanic sent in their Cabernet blend, Chenin Colombard, a red Baja-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Carignan, and Calixa Rosado from Backhoff’s more affordable line to sample.
Where in Mexico are these grapes cultivated? The Valle de Guadalupe, just 19 miles inland from Ensenada, on Mexico's Pacific Coast, about 63 miles south of the border with the United States.
The proximity to the Pacific Ocean provides humid cool currents that result in a microclimate in the valley. Today the Valle de Guadalupe is Mexico's most prestigious wine region, and home to 90% of the top wines of Mexico.
We also tried and loved XikBal Temp-Gre Red, a perfect wine that we made an original recipe version of traditional Scandinavian Glögg with, a fruit filled Sangria-Glögg hybrid dubbed "San-Glögg" that works for holiday feasts. (recipe below)
For $30 and under wines, give these south of the border varietals a whirl:
Monte Xanic 2012 Calixa Rosado (Valle de Guadalupe)
86 points (Wine Spectator) Under $20, This pink wine is made from Grenache grapes. What you get is a fresh, clean and citrus laced pour that is pleasant on the nose, with good acidity cutting into what would otherwise be a thick body. Flavors of plum and cherry make this a solid rosado from down Mexico way.
Monte Xanic Cabernet Blend 2011
Under $30. A wonderful full bodied wine, perfectly exhibiting a magnificent fruit complexity and long soft tannins. This wonderful blend is a great representation of the Guadalupe Valley terroir. Aromas of black and red cherries, as well as dark chocolate, fine tabaco, followed by fine spices with a long and velvety finish.
Monte Xanic Chenin Colombard 2012
Nice and light, this is under $20. Bright, brilliant and clear. The nose delivers hints of citrus fruits with a touch of honey and flowers, refreshing and alive on the palate, with a soft and fruity finish. Nice for the red wine haters to have as an option.
XikBal Baja Temp-Grenache 2011
You will find aromatic notes of dark-red berries, cranberries, plums, fresh strawberry jam and violets. Medium-full bodied with soft and elegant tannins. This blend of Tempranillo and Grenache is gritty up front, with strong black-fruit aromas and lemony oak notes. A palate with minty, dark flavors of licorice, plum, cherry and even citrus is attractive and shows acidic balance. We chose this full bodied babe to make our Thanksgiving mulled wine:
Monsters and Critics Original San-Glögg © mulled wine
1 bottle of XikBal Baja Temp-Grenache 2011
1/2 packet Simply Organic Mulling Spice
1 large navel orange sliced
2 apples sliced
1 pear sliced
1/4 cup Blueberries
1/4 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup brandy or cognac
2 cups apple cider
1 cup brewed (strong) Chai tea (we used Tazo brand)
Grated fresh nutmeg (about 1 reaspoon)
Throw everything into a crock-pot on low heat, let simmer, ladle and pour through small strainer into cups and enjoy. The crock will eventually cook out the alcohol, so drink it up within 4 hours of putting on.