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Monday, December 29, 2014

Wine Review: L.A. Cetto Private Reserve 2009 Nebbiolo

December is L.A. Cetto Month thanks to International Spirits and Wine!

L.A. Cetto Private Reserve 2009 Nebbiolo

This is the 2009 Private Reserve Nebbiolo from L.A. Cetto. Estate bottled in Valle de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley) in the state of Baja California, Mexico. The ABV is 13.8%. Paul Hobbs claimed it to be one of the top 25 Nebbiolo's in the world, with the other 24 coming from Piedmont.

For some background on the L.A. Cetto winery and links to the other reviews in this series, please check out L.A. Cetto - A Brief History of the Mexican Winery. To learn more about Mexican wine in general, I've written a complete history on the subject: Mexico makes wine too, muchacho.

Here's what you've seen from this series of L.A. Cetto reviews:
Petite Sirah and unoaked Chardonnay are Satisfying (3/5)
Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are Recommended (4/5)
Zinfandel and Private Reserve Chardonnay are Highly Recommended (5/5)

So none of them were bad and most of them were oustanding. I'll gladly drink any of them any night of the week. And now as a finale I'm going to review the Big Papi of the #1 Mexican winery. The one that made them what they are today.

When winemaker Camillo Magoni moved to Baja California from Piedmont in 1965, he did so with the purpose of making Mexico one of the handful of places in the world where Nebbiolo actually works. He was hired by L.A. Cetto, where he is still the winemaker, and his Nebbiolo is world renowned. The 2009 vintage saw 14 months ageing in French oak and another 24 months in the bottle.

This one calls for the decanter so I first dusted off that bad Larry. Then about an hour before I knew I would start drinking, I poured the wine right in there. The color is maroon with a bit of a purple hue to it.

Finally, the kid was asleep and I was ready to start reviewing. I pour the wine into my glass, raise it to my nose... and my wife aggressively blows out a candle on the other side of the room. So now the air is thick with the scent of blown-out smelly candle. I can't work in those conditions! FML. So I wait.

When the coast is clear I take my first whiff. I had to take a second look in the glass to make sure it was wine because to me it smelled just like an Imperial Stout. Dark chocolate, espresso and malt. So I sniff further and also find tobacco, peat smoke, dark cherry and a little bit of dried banana.

Scooby-Doo Tar Monster
All of the Nebbiolo's I've had in my life have been giant tar-monsters with tannins looking to drain me of my palate and will power. I'm thinking that, coming from a completely different climate, this one will be different.

And there's warm climate dark fruit! Well wouldn't you know! Tar is a feature and if it wasn't then it wouldn't be varietally correct, right? But it's not like "Holy crap I'm a mammoth at La Brea".

The First Contact flavors of cranberries and plums turn into chocolate covered dark cherries on the midpalate and back into cranberries and plums as you swallow. Peat smoke is present yet again. Body weight is somewhere between medium to light, there's more tannin than moderate but less than big, and there's definitely a high acidity.

The Imperial Stout comparison comes up yet again on the finish. I could probably convince myself that I've had a few pints.

But there's a completely different element to this finish: the nose. You can smell iron as you breath in and out of your nostrils. That's blood iron. Like you've got a nose bleed or just swallowed some pink, juicy steak. That reminds me very much of Aglianico.

In case you were wondering, I believe the combination of Stout and blood is officially called "the bar fight special".

So this is where this review gets tough. Not tough as in The Outsiders tuff but tough as in I've been drinking Nebbiolo all night and it might be hard to translate my thoughts into English on a qwerty keyboard.

Now that I've finally had this wine and seen for myself that it's an awesome Nebbiolo I think I'm going to look into bringing it in to carry at Luke's of Cape Cod. For $20 it'll immediately become my top selling Nebbiolo, regardless of where the hell it came from.

But guess what? I actually enjoyed the Private Reserve Chardonnay and the Zinfandel more. In fact, the best experience I had with all of these L.A. Cetto wines was with the Zinfandel and I'm a guy that generally dislikes Zin. That might explain why it had the shortest review; I was too busy hugging the glass to write about it.

If you're a Nebbiolo fanatic you absolutely need to find this Nebbiolo in whatever way you can. It's more versatile and more approachable than Barolo or Barbaresco yet manages to be of equal quality. You'll love it and the price point is nice.

But if you're just an average wine lover then don't worry about it until it shows up in front of you when you've got $20 to drop on a bottle. When that happens, you shouldn't pass it up.

Price: $20
Rating: 4/5 = Recommended.
(what does that mean?)

The bottle used was supplied free of charge for the purpose of this unpaid review. To have your wine reviewed follow this link.
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