Satellite Wine Club, March 2019
Tresomm - ‘Gringolino’ Rosé - Valle de Guadalupe, MX 2017
Bichi - ‘Flama Roja’ Red Blend - Tecate, MX 2017
Bienvenidos amigos. Yo quiero vinos mexicanos! I’m about to drop some seriously delicious, seriously different wines on your palate. I am going out on a limb this month to show you something that I believe in: deeply. Not only is this month intensely flavored, but also intensely beautiful, and intensely inspirational.
That’s right muchacho, we’re drinking Mexican wine & here are the facts:
Fact 1: Mexico’s preeminent wine region, Valle de Guadalupe is SO CLOSE. Closer than Napa, in fact. Just 4-5 hours south of sunny Santa Barbara are sunny-er Guadalupe and Tecaté: Dusty, rural food and wine paradises on the Baja coast.
Fact 2: Mexico is the most historic wine producing country in the Americas, beginning with plantations by the Conquistadores in 1521. The ever murderous Cortés signed a law in 1524 requiring all landed settlers to plant 1000 vines for every 100 natives on their ranch land & every vessel headed for the new world from Spain was required to carry vine cuttings for plantations. The Spanish were bloody thirsty.
Fact 3: Valle de Guadalupe is almost 100% sandy soils, making for almost 0 pest pressure from the infamous phylloxera louse. This means most vines are planted without grafting, making for pure expressions of vitis vinifera vines relatively unknown outside of a few special regions (see Chile). Vines here can grow almost indefinitely with incredibly old growth vineyards quite common.
Fact 4: While quite a bit south, Valle de Guadalupe has constant sea breezes, not unlike our local Santa Ynez Valley, which help to cool vineyards and allow for the retention of precious acids in grapes, necessary for quality wines.
Fact 5: (And I’m probably making it up but I can’t finish this note without talking about it) The Wines are SALTY. I attribute it to the sea breeze and (likely) the sea salt which impregnates the sandy, beach-like soils of the region. It is pervasive, It is awesome, and It makes all of the wines exceptional with the savory, spicey foods of Mexico.
This month we’re diving into the salty, the savory, the smokey, the mezcal-tastic, the spicey, the sun-shiney. March is an exploration of the fantastic, historic, and yet, relatively unknown world of Mexican wine. I am so stoked to share these two wines with you. They’re elegant, they’re vibrant, they’re made with passion, and they are muy delicioso.
Tresomm - ‘Gringolino’ Rosé - Valle de Guadalupe, MX 2017
Hola New School,
Tresomm is a veritable new wave winery. A collaboration by three local Los Angeles sommeliers (really some of the best somms in america), this project is as serious as it is fanciful. The Tre-Somms are:
Taylor Grant: The ingenious & ever-lovely sommelier of Happy to Serve You Hospitality Group’s ‘Scopa: Italian Roots’ in Venice (with its incredible ‘Old Lighting’ speakeasy) and ‘Dama’ in the fashion district. Also a former roommate of Chef Emma!
Connor Mitchell: Venerable wine rep for Grandes Places Selections, beverage director at the forthcoming ‘Dudley Market’ wine bar in Venice. He’s also the beverage director of ‘Wabi’, a very dope asian spot in Venice.
Chris Miller: Chris worked his way through college learning about food and wine through fine dining restaurants in New Orlean’s French Quarter. The day after graduation, he moved across the country to study wine at Seattle’s legendary ‘Canlis’ Restaurant and spent all his free time working in cellars in Walla Walla, In 2008, Chris took the position of wine director for Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant, ‘Spago’ Beverly Hills, quickly developing the program into a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner while working towards his Master Sommelier diploma. After 20 years in restaurants, he finally made the full-time switch to winemaking, trading in his suit and tie for jeans and boots, opening Seabold Cellars and BOLD Wine Co. in Monterey, California.
This trio of amigos had the good fortune of tasting the wines of Camillo Magoni on a tequila fueled adventure to Valle de Guadalupe a few years ago. Camillo, the fourth amigo in this venture, is an Italian transplant who found himself recruited to make wine in Mexico 50+ years back. Since then he founded his own winery called Bodegas Magoni in the hills of Valle de Guadalupe. He focuses on sustainable, low intervention agriculture and was one of the first to introduce Italian vines like Grignolino, Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Fiano, and Canailo to the region. He even has an experimental acre of Burgundian Aligoté (which Tresomm made one incredible barrel of in 2017! We have a few bottles left!). This dude is passionate and incredibly skilled at producing elegant and well-structured wines from this unusual climate.
I’ll let Taylor Summarize this legendary amigo:
‘A pioneer of Baja winemaking, Magoni hails from the Valtellina in Lombardy, Italy. He got his degree in viticulture and enology from University in Alba, Piemonte. After working for Nino Negri in Valtellina, he met Don Angelo Cetto, owner of L.A. Cetto winery in Baja. In 1965, he moved from Italy to Baja California and worked as the winemaker for L.A. Cetto for the next 49 years. During this time, he purchased many vineyards, cultivating and selling grapes. In 2013, he left to bottle the wines under his own label, Casa Magoni.
He still has over 100 varietals planted in his “experimental” plot including Grignolino, Aligote (as well as other off-beat varietals like grillo, cataratto, etc). He ferments everything separately to see how each fairs in the region, for education, and mostly just because he enjoys it. He ends up blending them in with Casa Magoni or keeping just for the family… until now for TRESOMM.’
In concepting this wine the team wanted to make a lean and elegant rosé while incorporating some of Magoni’s lesser known Italian varietals, Grignolino, a quaffable northern Italian grape from Piemonte, and Primitivo (zinfandel) from Italy’s southern heel - Puglia. In order to balance this veritable feast of Italian flavor, they used 30% of the ever-reliable Grenache to round out the blend.
The wine is made simply, using all hand-harvested grapes pressed directly to barrel and fermented using natural yeast. No filtration or fining helps to preserve the uniquely mexican saltiness of this wine!
It’s incredibly salty and deeply fruited, like a splash of sea water backed with a orange, cherry, strawberry punch.
It’s sunshine in a glass. It’s Bandol on a Mexican bender!
Instantly refreshing, the wine drinks great on its own in the afternoon sun (or under an umbrella on the beach!), or paired up with big flavors - Think Yoga Pants Salads or barbecued fish!
This is not a weak wine in any way. Big, textured, long finishing, and quenching. It’s a breath of fresh ocean air and I love it.
More Por Favor!
Bichi - ‘Flama Roja’ Red Blend - Tecate, MX 2017
Who spilled the mezcal in the barrel?
Welcome to Tecate, Mexico. Home of some of the oldest vines in North America, border walls, drug smuggling rings, simple farmers, and the one, the only Bichi winery. This winery, these people, are simply the most forward thinking, most ambitious, and most natural winemakers in Mexico. I’ll let their importer, Jose Pastor, give you the deets below:
“Brothers Noel & Jair Tellez, with the help of Chilean (by way of Burgundy) winemaker Louis-Antoine Luyt, are producing amazingly fresh and energetic wines from very old, recently recovered vineyards of Misión (aka Listán Prieto), Rosa del Peru (aka Moscatel Negro), Tempranillo and Carinena, among other varieties. Bichi means "naked" in some parts of northern Mexico, and for Téllez and Luyt, it thus seemed like an appropriate name to give their new natural wine project. Based at the Téllez family ranch in Tecate, just over the border from California, Bichi farms 10 hectares of their own Tecate vineyards biodynamically and collaborates with a growing family of organic farmers working vineyard land in Tecate and around Valle de Guadalupe. The majority of the vines are head-trained and all are dry-farmed, and harvested, fermented with native yeast, and aged in neutral barrel or vat so that the emphasis is on each wine’s Mexican terruño. “
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Noel at this year’s RAW Wine Festival in LA and I was in awe of the wines as I was of the genuine loveliness of Noel and his wife. Within sips: invites were exchanged and cards traded. I’ll be making my way to their natural wine mecca this spring! Lovelier people probably do not exist.
The Téllez family wines are authentic.
Dry farming is risky in this incredibly dry region, with only 12 inches of rain per year on sandy soils that is exactly one inch short of nothing at all!. They’re farmed Biodynamically, meaning that the labor going into these wines is endless. They’re naturally fermented, which is always a risk for stuck fermentation and exotic flavors. The wines are hardly manipulated: making grape quality the be-all, end-all. There is no ‘undo’ button for mistakes in the winery.
They are the definition of both hard work and humility: taking what Tecate’s harsh climate offers them and running with it.
I highly recommend pursuing more info on the family and all of their wines at http://www.josepastorselections.com/bichi.html
The wine in your hands is an unforgettable one. Not only is the label hilarious (as with all the Bichi labels, honoring the Mexican Luchadore tradition while celebrating the nudity of the Bichi wines) but the wine is one of profundity, individuality, and length. There is no finish to the fruit, smoke, and vegetal flavors of this wine. They undulate on the palate seemingly forever, so long as you don’t raise that taco to your mouth for another bite.
Flama Rojo is the result of a 10 acre experimental vineyard planted on the Téllez ranch in 2004. Dry farmed, biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Nebbiolo are de-stemmed and co-fermented in locally constructed concrete vats called tinajas, with 30 days of skin contact. Over the winter the wine is aged in both stainless steel and neutral french oak barrels then bottled with a microscopic 10 parts per million of SO2. No fining, no filtering, no makeup.
From the nose to the palate the wine is explosive and honest. Showing that local flavor of a mezcal-like smokeiness, a rich and ripe fruit profile, and the particular strengths of its three star grapes. From Cabernet we see power, spice, and vegetal green pepper notes. The Tempranillo brings a wild quality, with tar, dried herbs and rose petal, and plenty of cherry. Finally nebbiolo rocks ripe but mouth-filling tannins, acidity, and an unexpected nobility. This is a hot piece. The finish is infinite, the structure is exceptional, the flavors call for more Molé!
I love this wine as I love supporting the hopes and dreams of the people who make it. All hail the nature kings of Mexico. All hail Mexican wine! Vivá! Vivá! Vivá!
This is March at Satellite