Monday, June 6, 2011

Vino del Corazon Cabernet Sauvignon

A few years ago, I traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico for work.  After several stressful hours of work, I had some free time to do some sightseeing.  For me, "sightseeing" includes, not only visits to historical sites, but also checking out local restaurants, breweries and gourmet stores.  I did all of the above during that visit, but there was an added bonus.  As I as walking back to the hotel, I saw a sign for a tasting room for a local winemaker called Vino del Corazon.  I was intrigued by the thought of winemaking in New Mexico.  After all, when the State of New Mexico is mentioned, one first thinks of the deserts, which seems to be the last place where one would expect to find acres and acres of grape vines. 

Not only does New Mexico have a growing wine movement, it also has a claim to being the oldest wine region in the United States.  According to the New Mexico Wine Growers Association, a Franciscan named Fray Gracia de Zuniga and a Capucin monk named Antonio de Arteaga planted the first grapes in 1629 at Senecu, a small pueblo south of Socorro.  The Franciscan and Capucin monk planted the grapes known as Vitis Vinifera, or the "Mission Grape" at the San Antonio de Padua mission.   After the grapes were introduced by missionaries, according to the Wine Growers Association, wine production continued and expanded throughout the State, with vineyards along the Rio Grande River from Bernalillo to Socorro, and from Mesilla to El Paso.  Eventually, New Mexico became the fifth largest wine producing state in the Region.  However, wine production ultimately faded due to the weather, the Rio Grande and Prohibition.

In recent years, there has been a renaissance of grape production and winemaking in New Mexico.  Today, there are over thirty-five winemakers, including Vino del Corazon or "Wine of the Heart."  Started by Erica and Richard Hunt, Vino del Corazon has a wide array of wines, from a Riesling to a Cabernet Sauvignon.  I purchased some of Vino del Corazon's wines for special occasions, when I could share the wines with my beautiful wife, Clare.  On night of our second anniversary, I opened a bottle of the winermaker's Cabernet Sauvignon for us to drink and celebrate that great day.  

The Cabernet Sauvignon pours a crimson red in color, which is to be expected of full-bodied red wines.  The winemaker suggests that the wine has aromas of black cherries and cocoa.  Personally, I was able to detect the cherries and the aroma of the wine was quite pleasant.  The taste of the wine was even better than the aroma, filled with dark plums and black cherries.  The most noteworthy part of the taste of the wine is the significant spice or black pepper.  This spice provided an interesting character to the wine, as if to reinforce the fact that it comes from a State known for its chile peppers.  I am someone who loves spice in just about everything, including wine.  Thus, it comes as no surprise that I really liked the contribution of the black pepper and spice notes to the overall taste of the wine.  As Clare and I drank the wine, I also noted the smooth body and slightly dry finish.  These characteristics made the wine very easy to drink and enjoy.

The Cabernet Sauvignon is available from Vino del Corazon's tasting room in Santa Fe or from the winemaker's website.  The wine sells for about $24.95 a bottle.

ENJOY!

For more about wine production in New Mexico, check out the website for the New Mexico Wine Growers Association.

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