Casa Madero Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

There’s a hint of boysenberry fruit leather to this wine; it seems ever so slightly stewy, but is it intentional? Is this meant to run along the lines of a full-bore McLaren Vale cabernet? Or is this a traditional claret that failed, slightly? Color-wise, it seems a bit watery at the rim, with a dark purple, orangey-red hue, relatively unusual for Cabernet; it definitely looks more Old World than New.

With some time, it has kind of a chocolate tobacco box smell to it, but again with a stewed berry component. There’s also a fair whack of something like damp earth – it’s a very earthy, loamy smell that suggests just the tiniest hint of brettanomyces. It’s not unpleasant, just subtly present.Fairly acidic and bright, the wine doesn’t taste anything like it smells, and pretty much nothing like what American wines taste like. There seems to be a tomato-leaf note here, which isn’t too bad, along with a hint of licorice; overall, it’s a bit flat, but there’s a spiciness and nerve that’s moderately appealing. The tannins are very well judged, providing firm support right through the finish; they’re nicely ripe and provide a useful counterpoint to the acidity.

Thinking about this wine a bit more, some more traditional fruit flavors do arrive, but even then, they verge on the porty and, well, confected (with apologies to Julian for saying that). Ultimately, this seems like a wine that does as well as it can given the circumstance; this is from the oldest winery in the Americas (they’re now in their 5th century of production), and it’s in what probably seems like an insane location to most winemakers: the Mexican state of Coahuila, which is improbably located well inland from the Gulf of Mexico a few hundred miles southwest of San Antonio, Texas. Given the presumably difficult climate, and given the quality of Azteca de Oro brandy, it seems like table wines might not be the best call for this area, but you know what? This wine is still a lot more interesting than many wines we produce here in California, so I think it’s worth a look. Heck, I’d love to try their high end wines – of course, God only knows where you could find them (and I’m not traveling to México City any time soon, alas).

Casa Madero
$159 (about US $15)
Date tasted:
May 2008

5 thoughts on “Casa Madero Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

  1. Mexican wine — now there’s something different. Your note actually makes it sound worth trying, which is a lot more than one might reasonably expect given the wine’s provenance. If nothing else, it’s nice to have a “México” category at Full Pour. 🙂

    Your note prompted me to do a bit of reading about Mexican wine and, quite logically, it seems there are many plantings that are at least decades old, which is of more than nominal interest, even considering the climatic challenges that you note. Very very interesting, thanks for tasting this one.

  2. For me, Mexico really is an unknown. Even though I live in San Diego, California – which means I could drive to the Valle de Guadalupe, where most Mexican wine appears to be produced, in just under an hour and a half – the last time I saw a bottle of Mexican wine was in Seattle, and none of the locals seem to know anything about it. I’ve heard of a local winery that produces wine from grapes trucked up from Baja, but I’ve never seen their produce in shops.

    At the Tijuana airport last week, there was a very spiffy wine boutique complete with US $5 wine tasting, but I declined – nothing was in English (ironic given that the airport is only 50m south of the border), and the Mexican wines on display ranged in price from US$10 to US$120 (!). It’s hard to even consider spending that much money on a bottle of wine without having even the vaguest of ideas about whether or not it was any good. I’m guessing that the target market was probably local narcotraficantes interested in luxury goods, but who knows? Perhaps Japanese and Chinese businessmen would splurge on $120 bottles of Mexican wine to take home? (Tijuana airport has nonstop flights to Shanghai and Tokyo these days, somewhat amazingly.)

    I also had a bottle of US$4 wine called Marques del Valle, which appeared to have been produced by L. A. Cetto, part of Domecq, in the Valle de Guadalupe as well. It was probably the best $4 wine I’ve had in some time: grapey with a hint of oakiness. (I should probably confess that as I drank it at the beach, I mixed most of it with Squirt to make fake sangría. I know, there went my wine cred. I’m sorry.)

    One of these days, it’d be wonderful to open a Mexican wine shop in Old Town here in San Diego – but that’s probably a long way off in the future thanks to onerous import laws (yay Patriot Act) and what I assume would be a very limited market here. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can learn more and maybe find a good shop in Tijuana… or at least spend a weekend in the Baja wine country.

  3. Being Mexican, there is a lot of Mexican wine, guess where? IN MEXICO, not bad stuff and as in many countries, the quality is improving… I haven’t tasted this particular wine but there are some other wineries that are worth a try… if you can find wine left – Vino De Piedra, Monte Xanic, LA Cetto, Chateau Camou. Here are some links to expand your knowledge;

    Don’t forget that saying one wine says it all is like saying the USA only has hamburgers and nombs and Australia only has meat pies and vegemite!

    Have fun!

    • I absolutely agree that it’s ridiculous to say that this one particular wine is in some way representative of all Mexican wines. I drink them when I can, which generally means in Mexico: when I was in Mexico City last month, I had an amazing bottle of chasselas from Mogor Badan as well as another red wine from Coahuila that was amazingly good but whose name I’ve sadly forgotten already. There are some fantastic wines being produced in Mexico, no doubt about it.

  4. We drank a Casa Madero Cabernet Sauvignon yesterday with our dinner. It’s a lovely wine, just as the reviewer here wrote. It was delicious, fruity but dry, smooth as silk with no overly tannin-y zing to the taste buds.

    The winery (Las Parras) is located in the northeast Mexico state of Coahuila, not anywhere near the wine-growing far western Mexico state of Baja California.

    A wonderful bottle, well worth repeating.

    Mexico Cooks!

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