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).
Price: $159 (about US $15)
Date tasted: May 2008