SOME 12 years ago, while visiting friend and Latino winegrower Bulmaro Montes at Joseph Phelps, he gave me a bottle from his own library; a 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon "Backus Vineyard". For a long time, I kept the bottle treasured and never imagined the time when I would open it.
My friend Steve and his wife Kelly, longtime wine connoisseurs, are fans of well-aged wine. Steve even leaves his bottles for some time in the fridge after opening them and likes to taste the entire evolution of the wine. "I have tried wines opened just two weeks ago and they are still beautiful." So, when they invited Veronica and I this last time, I decided to bring Bulmaro's gift with me. The entire process was kind of a ritual; appropriate footing on the kitchen's counter, special corkscrew, very careful handling, and finally a great, clean pop!
The wine was 26 years old. It was from one of the finest vineyards in Napa and it was still opulent! Fruity with hints of coffee bean, ripe plum and minty accents. Silky, elegant and subtle, with a lot of complexity and perfume. We drank it over some home-style beef with peppers and pasta. Wow! What a treat!
My good friend Tom Bracamontes, who used to work for Rolando Herrera at Mi Sueno in Napa, has found a very lucrative and innovative business: importing and distributing wine from Baja, Mexico. "These wines are outstanding Jorge," he told me. "They are quite different from our Californians. They are fruity, well done and complex enough to face the fierce competition and wide variety of other wines in the US Market." Tom is finding a good market in southern California, Texas, Illinois and New York markets and plans to open more through the rest of the year. As a Mexican myself, I do think that I have a pretty good notion of the good wines that are being produced in Baja California. So when I asked him about the ones that are surprising him? "Henri Lurton label made by Mexican winemaker Lourdes Ojeda is by far the best winery of the Valley of Guadalupe." I have to agree on that because the few that I have tried from them are simply awesome!
BODEGAS HENRI LURTON, VALLE DE GUADALUPE B.C.
* It is a venture from the owner of Chateau Brane-Cantenac in Margaux, through his sons Nicolas and Vincent. Mexican winemaker Lourdes Martinez Ojeda, who has worked almost 10 years at the Chateau in Bordeaux, divides her time to produce a wine that combines the Baja terror with the French technique and heritage. They...