Road Trip: New Mexico



By John ~ May 2nd, 2008.

Before this trip, the only New Mexico wine I had tasted was the NV Gruet Brut Sparkling Wine which finished a close second in one of our tasting dinners. I was disappointed that Santa Fe does not seem to be as infatuated with New Mexico wines as was Sedona with Arizona wines. In fact, New Mexico wines and wineries were not that easy to find, and several hospitality professionals admitted that most restaurants and bars feature imported wines rather than New Mexico wines. We were able to visit the tasting rooms for Santa Fe Vineyards and Ponderosa Valley Winery. In addition, we tasted wines from two other New Mexico wineries, DH Lescombes and Black Mesa, in our hotel room that we picked up at a local wine shop.

20080502_santafevineyards.jpgI thought the best wines at Santa Fe Vineyards were their two Zinfandel Ports, the 2004 Santa Fe Vineyards Zinfandel Port (full bottle) and the 2005 Santa Fe Vineyards Zinfandel Port (half bottle). The other New Mexico wines we tasted at Santa Fe were the 2006 Santa Fe Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2007 Santa Fe Vineyards Chardonnay (no oak), and the NV Santa Fe Vineyards Tinto Del Sol Red Table Wine. Santa Fe Vineyards sells most of their wine through their tasting room and will ship out-of-state.

20080502_ponderosavalleywinery.jpgPonderosa Valley Winery has been a grower for 33 years and has had their own winery for fifteen years. They produce about 4,500 cases a year, mostly sold through their tasting room and stores in the local area. They will also ship out-of-state. At Ponderosa, our two favorites were the 2004 Ponderosa Valley Merlot and the 2007 Ponderosa Valley Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon. The other wines we tasted at Ponderosa were the 2005 Ponderosa Valley Syrah, the NV Ponderosa Valley Light Port (half bottle), and the 2004 Ponderosa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

In our room that evening, we tasted a 2006 DH Lescombes Syrah and a 2005 Black Mesa Cabernet Sauvignon. Our limited sampling of New Mexico wines showed some promise but no great wines. I believe work needs to be done in improving the consistency of the wines and even more work needs to be done cooperatively in marketing New Mexico wines.

Here’s a recap of the wines we tasted in New Mexico, in our order of preference. All prices given are winery/tasting room prices.

2004 Santa Fe Vineyards Zinfandel Port (full bottle)
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $50

2005 Santa Fe Vineyards Zinfandel Port (half bottle)
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $20

2004 Ponderosa Valley Merlot
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $16

2007 Ponderosa Valley Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $16

2006 Santa Fe Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $16

2005 Ponderosa Valley Syrah
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $18

2006 DH Lescombes Syrah
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $15

2007 Santa Fe Vineyards Chardonnay (no oak)
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Price: $13.50

NV Ponderosa Valley Light Port (half bottle)
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Price: $20

2005 Black Mesa Cabernet Sauvignon
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Price: $21

NV Santa Fe Vineyards Tinto Del Sol Red Table Wine
Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Price: $10.50

2004 Ponderosa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Price: $18

Have you ever had New Mexico wine actually made from New Mexico grapes? If so, how did you like it? What was your favorite?


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Merlot, New Mexico Wine, Port, Red Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz/Syrah, Sparkling Wine, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25, Zinfandel

Reader's Comments

  1. Linda McKimmey | May 21st, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Kori,
    We vacation in Cloudcroft, New Mexico every year and have tasted a wine we just love. It’s a chardonnay by Willmon. I think it rivals Kendal Jackson’s chardonnay. So far, we can only find it in Riudoso. Of course, being in Cameron, my wine selections are sooooooo limited! thanks for all your work!
    Linda

  2. Mike | February 26th, 2013 at 7:26 am

    I realize this is an old thread but thought I would add an update. NM Wines have come a LONG way in the past 4-5 years. Gruet has landed several wines on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list. DH Lescombes has won several Double Golds for their Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competitions. Black Mesa is turning out some pretty incredible wines these days as well. Grapes have been grown in this area since the 1600′s.

    It time for another road trip to see how things have progressed!

  3. John | February 26th, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Mike,
    Thanks for your comments and update on New Mexico wine. I’d like to get back to New Mexico one day.
    John