Where to sip
It would be hard to argue that the best bottle of wine produced in the Valle de Guadalupe is not the Torres Alegre y Familia “Cru Garage” nebbiolo. It is a deeply concentrated wine with pronounced fruity flavors, especially red berries, and an earthiness and terroir that suggests the grapes are grown precisely where they should be. Frankly, all of the wines in Torres Alegre’s “Cru Garage” series are excellent, and the winery’s less expensive lines are good value for the quality.
There may be no more spectacular view of the Valle de Guadalupe than from the deck of the majestic winery and tasting room at Monte Xanic in the town of Francisco Zarco toward the Valle’s eastern end. The winery’s premium bottle, the Gran Ricardo (a blend of cabernet sauvingon, merlot, and petit verdot), is as excellent as the view is beautiful -- an endless expanse of grape vines surrounded by dusty rolling mountains. Monte Xanic focuses, unlike many Valle wineries, on Bordeaux varietals, though its syrah excels as well.
Villa Montefiori, toward the northwestern end of the Valle, specializes in Italian varietals and blends. While the winery’s brunello and nebbiolo get a lot of the attention, the most significant offering is the nerone, made from the rare aglianico varietal native to Southern Italy. This produces a full-bodied wine with structure and aging potential that begs the question: why hasn’t it found a famed region to call its own? Could the Valle de Guadalupe be it?
One of the most pleasant tasting experiences in the Valle is at Lomita winery. Its pagano (grenache) and sacro (50/50 cabernet/merlot) bottlings are among the best food-pairing wines in the Valle. But the cursi is, hands down, one of the best rose wines anywhere: boasting caramel and red berry fruit flavors without being cloying, it is a remarkable wine.