Casa Magoni Chardonnay-Vermentino - $17.99 - Valle de Guadalupe is the best known of the wine regions of Baja California. It's a mere two-hour drive south of San Diego, across the Mexican border.
The region has a history of viticulture and winemaking going back to the mid 1800s, when Spanish settlers brought vines and established missions in the area. The late 1800s saw the first commercial winery, but the region didn't establish itself as a major wine region until a century later, in the 1980s. Over 70 percent of Mexico's wine is produced in Baja California, with its Mediterranean climate, varied soils and altidudes, hot dry summers and cool dry winters. Bodegas Magoni is a family-owned winery started in 2002, which only in the past few years has begun to produce wine commercially. Italian enologist Camillo Magoni is the guiding force behind the winery, which is quite large--almost 300 hectares of grapes, planted to over 100 different varietals. They sell a solid percentage of their grapes, but with their own wines tend to focus on French and Italian varietals, combined in interesting ways, like this Chardonnay and Vermentino blend. Chardonnay has been planted in the valley for decades, but Vementino is a recent addition. It quickly passed through its experimental phase into commercial production. Blended with Chardonnay, which provides richness and weight, the Vermentino is bright, zesty, and sparkling with acidity. There are hints of crisp green apple, tropical fruit, and citrus zest. It would be great with roasted or grilled fish or poultry.
Casa Magoni Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon - $17.99 - Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon are both varieties with a decades-long track record of making amazing wines in the Valle de Guadalupe. Blending the two follows the tradition established in the second half of the 20th century in Tuscany with the Super Tuscans, often made by blending Bordeaux grapes like Cabernet into the local Sangiovese. In Mexico, neither of these grapes are local, but they are highly acclimated immigrants. The Cabernet provides full texture and hints of plum and blackberry, while the Sangiovese provides supple, elegant smoothness and red cherry notes. There is a subtle, savory finish almost like black tea, with some tannic grip. Drink this with a braised meat sauce like bolognese, with black olives and capers added for a briny punch.