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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkEntertainment | Restaurants & Dining 

Some Inexpensive Wines Surprise, Others Disappoint

February 23, 2015

Sayulita resident Ed Schwartz, who has worked with top wineries in California, Italy and France, gives us the results of a recent tasting of inexpensive wines that are available at the Alas Blancas store in Sayulita.

Sayulita, Mexico - Here are the results of a wine tasting we did recently with 14 tasters. The scope of this tasting was to sample inexpensive wines that were all available at the Alas Blancas store in Sayulita, corner of Delfines and Navarrete. For reference, $100 pesos equals $6.70 USD.

The wines we tasted were:

White Wines

L A Cetto 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - $102 MX Pesos - most found the wine had off odors, a bit too sweet and light-bodied. Not recommended.

Monte Xanic 2013 Chenin/French Colombard blend - $196 MX Pesos - this wine was rich and intense but going off with slight maderization. I have had this wine several times with much better results. I thought that maybe all the 2013 white wines were going over the hill. NB, look for the latest vintage dates when shopping for white wines. Not recommended unless you can find a 2014.

L A Cetto 2013 Fume Blanc - $102 MX Pesos - Nice a crisp with good acidity, very light and elegant, but our tasters were not that impressed. Not recommended.

Concha Y Toro Reservado Sauvignon Blanc - $99 MX Pesos - this was the best white on the table, and at only $99 pesos has to be a fine value. It had lots of flavor, a bright and racy acidity and excellent balance. I have found that the Concho Y Toro Reserved wines are a good bet. Recommended by a good majority - and it was the only wine on the table so designated.

Santa Digna 2013 Sauvignon Blanc - $102 MX Pesos - nice and crisp, elegant and balanced, but nowhere near as good as the Concha Sauvignon Blanc. Not recommended.

Red wines

In general, the reds were more acceptable, likely due to the fact that reds are more hardy and are not as affected by the warmth and light in a store.

Barefoot Pinot Noir - pretty nose with a nice intensity of flavors, flavorful, nice sweetness, good body and smooth. This is a Gallo brand and is the largest selling brand now in the US. At under $8 no surprise. Recommended.

Las Moros 2014 Malbec - $88 MX Pesos - Malbecs from Argentina have made a mark worldwide and especially so in the United States. Malbec is Argentina's flagship variety, and the country has the largest Malbec acreage in the world. This variety originally comes from South West France, where it is called Cot and features a hard, tannic style. Due to its intense color and dark hues, wines obtained from this variety were once called "the black wines of Cahors." These wines consolidated their prestige in the Middle Ages and gained full recognition in modern times. In 1852, Malbec was brought to Argentina by Michel A. Pouget, a French agronomist who was hired by the Argentine government to improve wine growing. This one was very tight, tart and tense, lacking fruit. That said, many Malbecs are good to excellent but this wine was Not recommended.

Concha Y Toro 2013 Reservado Carmanere - $99 MX Pesos - This was well liked - great mouthfeel, rich and full, but smooth. Chile's own signature grape, this red varietal disappeared from European vineyards in the mid-19th century and reappeared among Chile's Merlot vines a hundred years later. The deepest, darkest, purplest of all red grapes needs a long growing season to reach its fullest potential. Rich in berry fruits and spice (think blackberries and black pepper), with smooth, well-rounded tannins, making this a very pleasing and easy to drink varietal. Recommended.

Concha Y Toro Reservado 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon - $99 MX Pesos - pretty, elegant, nicely balanced - a real surprise for a wine this inexpensive. Recommended.

Next up... Wines from Puerto Vallarta.

Ed Schwartz has been involved in many aspects of fine wine for 30 years and has worked with top wineries in California, Italy and France. His writings on wine, food and travel have appeared in the SF Chronicle, LA Times and Image magazine.

Click HERE for more articles by Ed Schwartz