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.