His name is Antonio and I’ve never been too sure whether I wanted him back in town or not. He’s the kind of guy that usually threatens other men. He’s one of these new-fangled marketing symbols designed to sell wine to that new-fangled generation of 20-somethings. Anyway, when he first showed up here in San Miguel de Allende a couple of years ago, Don Day took a bit of a liking to him. OK, a bit more than a liking to him. I admit I had him over to the house at least a couple of times a week.
But then one day he was gone. Skidaddled. Nowhere to be found anywhere in town. Despite Don Day’s searching. And talk about not missing your water til your well runs dry, that ain’t nothin’ compared to losing a favorite wine.
Antonio is the cartoon-like illustration for two wines called Beso de Vino. When Don Day first met Antonio, a few years ago in Canada, I thought he was a her because he had udders. Then I noticed that he also had horns and, remembering that time in a bar once before when Don Day was gender-challenged (far too busy looking at other things to notice the Adam’s apple), it didn’t take me long to realize that Antonio was, in fact, a bull and those were actually cojones gigantes. Now, normally, I like my wine labels more traditional…Old English typefaces, a line drawing of a 17th Century chateau, never more than two colors…but, I guess if I was going to drink Beso de Vino, I was stuck with looking at those gargantuan gonads.
Beso de Vino originates in the Carinena region of Spain. It’s an area in the northwest, just below Rioja, that in olden days, aka the 20th Century, was more famous for volume grape juice than anything else. Then, in 1997, a company called Grandes Vinos y Vinedos S.A. united more than 1000 wineries in the region and made them realize that marketing might be almost as important as winemaking.
Next, a bit of miracle happened. Wine Advocate, arguably the most important wine publication in the world, gave the Beso de Vino Garnacha a score of 89 and the Beso de Vino Syrah a score of 90. Now those scores are not unheard of except for one thing. These wines are cheap wines, very cheap wines, that when they first arrived were selling at Soriana, the San Miguel supermarket, for less than $100 pesos (about $8 U.S. or Canadian) a bottle.
I could get into the color, the nose, the palate and all of that other wine writer mumbo jumbo but, for once, I won’t. Though they’re Spanish in origin, Beso de Vino wines are much more reminiscent of wines from the Rhone Valley in France. The syrah is like a Northern Rhone wine, the garnacha (it’s the same grape as the French grenache) is like a Southern Rhone wine.
But why am I telling you this? Like I said, Antonio and Beso de Vino left town over a year ago. Well guess what, Antonio’s back, big balls and all. I found him this week in one of the town’s most unsuspecting places. He was in that little liquor store with no name on Pepe Llanos, the one you’d only go in after you discover that La Europea and Cava Sautto have already shut up shop. Or because you’re going to Carniceria La Lonja and it’s next door. The wine is now a little over 100 pesos but would still be a bargain if it was as much as 200 pesos. There weren’t too many bottles (especially after Don Day left) but I was promised that more would be ordered and more would arrive this Friday.
Now Don Day always made it a point to never hang out with ballzy guys. They were the guys who usually started the fight and then left you to finish it. But Antonio’s obviously back in my life. We tipped a bottle of the Old Vine Garnacha, my favorite of the two Beso de Vino wines, the other night with one of Don Day’s Wife’s variations on spaghetti carbonara that includes rosemary, basil and cremini mushrooms.
I looked closely at the label and saw that even the graphic designer gets a credit. It’s no wonder Antonio has those cojones.
The liquor store with no name is located at Pepe Llanos 4 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.