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Senior editor James Laube, Wine Spectator's expert on the wines of California, joined the magazine in 1983.
James Laube

A Contrast in Reds from Mexico and Argentina

Note de Cata Casa Madero Shiraz 2008 and Alta Vista Atemporal 2008

James Laube
Posted: March 25, 2010

While on vacation in Mexico, a friend and I enjoyed a three-course meal at Frascati, a charming Italian restaurant in the tiny seaside town of Lascrus, about 20 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. Frascati’s manager, Gustavo Aguilar, insisted the Shiraz on his list was the best wine in Mexico. Making a claim like that is waving a red flag in front of wine lovers.

Whether it was really the best wine in Mexico hardly mattered. The Note de Cata Casa Madero Shiraz 2008, from Parras in the Mexican state of Coahuila, was delicious. It exhibited its pure Shiraz personality, with grapey, peppery berry, tobacco, violet and crushed raspberry flavors. With wonderful balance and focus, it was just shy of outstanding, but fun to drink and was only about $30 on the wine list. As it opened, it reminded me of a Beaujolais, with its fruity personality. 88 points, non-blind.

With our meal of sesame-crusted fresh tuna carpaccio, pear and gorgonzola salad and fettuccini with tender swordfish, we also tried a red from Mendoza in Argentina. The 2008 Alta Vista Atemporal, about $40 on the wine list, was a complex, earthy blend of Syrah, Cabernet, Malbec and Petit Verdot. What was telling about the two wines is that the Shiraz showcased its varietal personality, and the Atemporal demonstrated the beauty of the blend. Each of the varieties contributed to the wine, but none stood out, which is why the blend is so successful. It was outstanding—90 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get our quick list of Top Values among Argentine reds for $25 or less.

Greg Flanagan
Bethel CT —  March 25, 2010 8:10pm ET

...were both wines paired with the main course? Its a little confusing in your write-up....sorry...

and more importantly....how were the beaches?

James Laube
Napa, CA —  March 25, 2010 8:26pm ET
Greg, we drank both wines through the evening with all the entrees...the best way to compare two wines is to drink them before food, with it, and after it. Beaches (especially Sayulita) were great...worked on my tan and reading...fishing was good...a very relaxing escape!
Michael Holzer
Miami Fl —  March 27, 2010 10:06pm ET
I was "turned on" to some mexican wines when visitng a buddy in Mexico city. Big fan of LA Cetto Nebbiolo and some of the Adobe wines. Do you think an article on wine/wine tasting in Baja is in the near future. Also, I dont think the wines have been rated blindly by WS. (okay except the LA Cetto wine was a 2000 chenin blanc). I believe that someone from wine spectator has had it and like me claimed it was the best nebbiolo outside of piedmonte. Hope to see more about this region.

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