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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Italian Wine in Mexico at L.A. Cetto Winery

Italian Wine in Mexico at L.A. Cetto Winery
by Steve Dryden

Nebbiolo was once a famous Barolo grape from Piedmont (actually the “noble grape” of Italy), but lately it seems that Nebbiolo grown in Mexico is stealing the show. In fact, Nebbiolo grapes grown in Mexico and shipped to a winery in Carlsbad, California, has recently won two significant “world-class” awards, Best of Show and a Double Gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition in 2008 and 2009.

It was the Italian family of L.A. Cetto winery and their winemaker, Camillo Magoni, who first introduced the Nebbiolo grape to Mexico and created award-winning wines from that varietal. Years of research and experimentation has shown that Mexico has more stable weather than Piedmont, Italy, and this adopted Italian grape has found a favorable Mexican home in Valle de Guadalupe. Camillo Magoni has a Ph.D. in enology from Italy and has shared a lifetime relationship with this particular grape. In addition, he was selected as "the top winemaker in the World for 2004," and makes some excellent, international award-winning Private Reserve Nebbiolo wines.

L.A Cetto family winery is a hybrid of Italian and Mexican cultures, fueled with a serious passion for wine, food, entertainment and the fine arts. Their winery is Mexico’s largest wine producer and the largest winery in Latin America with a production of about one million cases annually. One of their specialties is introducing Mexicans to the “world of wine” with affordable pricing and effective education programs. Their marketing program has been successful in awakening a mostly “beer and tequila” culture to the dynamics of wine drinking and the culture that follows it.

Most folks are familiar with their high volume labels of value wines priced from US$4 to about US$25, but they also make some excellent Private Reserves and Boutique wines for serious consumers and devoted connoisseurs. The recent release of the 2004 Private Reserve Nebbiolo has received high marks and great reviews, especially for a wine priced at US$15. This wine is the best full-bodied, Mexican red wine on the market for that price!

This Italian/Mexican family knows how to entertain and educate in a fun and “classic” manner. For example, the Cetto family will host the renowned Mariachi Vargas with singer Carlos Cuevas at the Guadalupe Valley winery on June 20. And, their annual Fiesta de la Vendimia event on Saturday, August 15, is a noteworthy, 12-hour production for serious fun-goers only. In fact, you really have to pace yourselves to experience the whole event! Tickets are extremely limited for both events, so move fast to secure tickets and to attend these wine culture extravaganzas. It’s best to purchase tickets from the valley winery NOW at valle@gpocetto.com or at the Tijuana offices: (664) 685-3031, www.cettowines.com.

One thing is certain, you’ll see me there for both events, and I successfully experience the entire 12-hour la Vendimia event by rotating my palate from wine, to bottled water, to iced mocha and back. It’s usually about 100 degrees, so be safe, hydrate and use common sense. If you move fast, you can still find lodging online at Rancho Malagon and Hacienda Guadalupe Hotel. Driving after this event is NOT an option, unless you have a designated driver. I’ve learned the hard way at past events, once I had to crawl and stumble back to my house in San Antonio de las Minas for 10 miles. Don’t try that, it’s too hot and ruins your pants.

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