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September 16, 2009

Renowned Chef And Sommelier Partner On New Mexican Wines

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

John Gray Restaurant Group is pleased to announce the release of John Gray’s Private Barrel Selection 2008: El Corazon. The Zinfandel, Syrah, Petit Sirah, and Grenache blend was created in collaboration between restaurateur/chef John Gray and renowned negociant eleveur and MariaTinto owner and sommelier Humberto Falcón.

In 2008, John Gray visited the Guadalupe Valley, Baja California, Mexico’s main wine producing region, to work in collaboration with Falcón and personally hand select outstanding vintages from the region’s most acclaimed and small production vineyards. The experience offered them the opportunity to ultimately create a lesser known, yet exceptional, Mexican wine, El Corazon.

El Corazon is an interesting blend of four distinct grapes and small production vineyards located throughout the Guadalupe Valley: Hugo d’Acosta’s nonprofit winemaking school, l’Escuelita’s Old Vine Zinfandel; Villa Montefiori’s Syrah; Maria Tinto’s Petit Sirah; and Vinedos Malagon’s Grenache.

“El Corazon began with the Old Vine Zinfandel as the backbone, so I thought that if I could find the perfect symmetry and true essence of a balanced red wine – acidity, tannins, alcohol and sweetness – that it would result in a beautiful, sophisticated wine, one that reflects the happiness of Mexico,” says Falcon. “From that point on, it was like finding the missing pieces to a puzzle and I used all my resources and contacts to structure what has resulted in El Corazon.”

Gray continued his praise for the wine, “El Corazon allows me to offer my guests an exceptional wine – truly one of the best offering on our lists – all while being able to promote a dynamic Mexican region and at the end of the day being proud to put our name on a good wine.”

Varietal Composition: 35% Old Vine Zinfandel, 35% Syrah, 15% Petit Sirah, 15% Old Vine Grenache
750 ml. bottle

Hugo d’Acosta l’Escuelita’s 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel: The 35% varietal composition is the true structure of El Corazon. The varietal provides for a balanced mouth (acidity and tannins), as well as for the wine’s complex nose (dark berry blend with notes of cinnamon and undertones of a variety of earthy vegetables).

Villa Montefiori’s 2007 Syrah: The 35% varietal composition provides the wine with its dark, red fruity flavor (cranberries and cherries), as well as with its aromatic essence and firm tannins.

Maria Tinto’s 2007 Petit Sirah: The 15% varietal composition and allows for its overall mellow consistency, deep color and alcohol.

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Vinedos Malagon’s 2008 Grenache: The 15% varietal composition of this perfectly young grape provides the wine with its flowery and spicy notes, as well as to balance the overall acidity of the wine.

El Corazon demonstrates the potential of the terroir with its deep purple color, and bright, clean finish. Engaging light fruit aromas are highlighted by notes of cherry, raspberry and strawberry jam. The wine’s clean, firm tannins are rich and mouthcoating, enlivened with focused acidity. The elegant and balanced essence that is John Gray’s Private Barrel Selection, El Corazon. Aging in oak barrels to give a discreet hang of wood to the wine whilst maintaining the predominant fruit characteristics. It is best served lightly chilled and pairs with a range of foods from fish, seafood, chicken and vegetables to sweet and savory berry dishes to chocolate.

Each varietal was aged separately in a mix of new and old French oak and stainless steel barrels ranging from one to fourteen months old. Falcon then masterfully blended and aged the wine as a blend for eight months in French oak barrels prior to bottling, which resulted in showcasing the best attributes of each grape.

Guadalupe Valley, Mexico
Protected from Baja California’s aridity by mountain ranges on three sides, Guadalupe Valley, Mexico’s premier wine region, forms a perfect microclimate for growing wine grapes, along with olive trees and an abundance of other fruit crops. Today there are roughly two dozen wineries in the region, however wine has been produced here since the conquistadors introduced it in the 16th century. In the mid-17th-century, Spanish royalty outlawed Mexican wine in order to protect sales at home. Dominican missionaries later began producing the grape, only to lose their vineyards when the War of Reform ended in 1857. Production began again in 1904, with the arrival of a group of religious pacifists who fled czarist Russia for Baja. Since then, three large producers, Santo Tómas, Domecq and L.A. Cetto, have dominated Mexican wine production. However, in large Hugo d’Acosta, a Bordeaux-trained oenologist from Mexico City who had been working at Santo Tómas, is responsible for today’s current growth of the region, as he believed that the region was falling short of its potential, he spearheaded the small-production movement, improving quality by targeting specific plots and limiting vine yield to concentrate the fruit.

El Corazon will only be available for purchase at John Gray restaurants: John Gray’s Kitchen in Puerto Morelos, John Gray’s Place and The Den in Playa del Carmen and John Gray’s Downtown in Cancun. The exclusive offering, which will be served in Riedel magnum glasses, will be sold by the bottle ($60USD) or by the glass ($15USD).

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