You may have been to New Mexico to enjoy their annual International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta held in Albuquerque every fall; or perhaps to trek over to the artist haven of Santa Fe, or hike the trails of Carlsbad Caverns National Park; but have you ventured into their wine world? Yes, really! The world of wine is growing here and deserves to be recognized. In the past, my experience with New Mexico wines was limited to the beautiful sparkling wines made there by Gruet Winery, which I found years ago to be impressive at first sip; and have remained high on my list for several years. I have since had the opportunity to discover noteworthy still wines in this less touted U.S. wine region.
Milagro Vineyards and Winery tucked in the village of Corrales, just a 30 minute drive from the downtown Albuquerque, is one you should NOT miss. Owned by Rick and Mitzi Hobson, Milagro Vineyards and Winery evolved from their desire to make the best wine from traditional vinifera grapes grown in New Mexico. Vineyards at Milagro were originally planted in 1985. This boutique winery produces varieties including Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Small quantities of these wines are handcrafted and aged in French oak, and Rick’s passion and talent as a winemaker glow brightly.
Photo: Winemaker/Owner Rick Hobson and guests
The Hobson’s are also very animal friendly, and when you visit Milagro you will undoubtedly be greeted by their cute and friendly Boston Terriers. They also take in and care for pot belly pigs (you will see tuxedo clad Wilbur pictured on their wine label). Their newly opened wine tasting room is a special reflection of Rick and Mitzi, their wines and their four legged friends. Their wine glass rack hanging in the tasting room was creatively made out of wine barrel staves by their neighbor John, who also helps out at the winery; and stunning images of their vineyards by local photographer Chuck Leopold grace the walls painted in soothing earth tones. It’s a warm and friendly room overlooking picturesque vineyards and gardens; made even more special by Rick’s wonderfully crafted wines. Speaking of the wines, here’s a snapshot of my favorites from Milagro:
2006 Chardonnay: Toasty, buttery aromas leap from the glass. A creamy texture full of delectable ripe pear and apple flavors layered with pretty oak notes and crisp acidity expand on the palate; a handsomely structured wine. Rick treats this Chardonnay with no ML (malolactic fermentation), preserving the full character of the fruit; and his decision to age on the lees adds plenty of depth. The long, lingering finish is lip-smackingly delicious.
2005 Old Church Road Vineyard Select Zinfandel: Fresh berry aromas lure you in; and explode with dark berry and spiciness on the palate – wow. Rick explains that he cuts back to one cluster per shoot for this vineyard select Zin and the focused fruit simply shines. It is aged for 12 months in new oak barrels (Seguin-Moreau) and then moved into neutral barrels prior to bottling. The attractive oak integration, delightful vanilla accents and firm tannins frame the lush berry fruit and spice components; this one drinks well now and should also age divinely.
2005 Merlot: Beautifully hued, this 21 month French oak aged Merlot opens with dark cherry, clove and pie spice aromas, and unfolds in the mouth with yummy layers of black cherry, ripe blackberry, vanilla and a delicate thread of earthiness. Elegant with silky tannins and showcasing a purity of fruit, this Merlot, which is refined and exceedingly pleasing on the palate, crescendos with a long, persistent finish.
They also make a red table wine; Corrales Red. This is a lovely blend that Rick bottles each year, and I look forward to tasting the next release. To experience Milagro’s wines and new tasting room for yourself, give them a call at 505 898-3998 to set up a visit. They are located at 985 West Ella in Corrales.
Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas is quite unique in its production of apricot, plum, cranberry, blueberry, wild cherry and other fruit based wines. What’s really different here is their fruit wines are bone dry. Often when one thinks of fruit wine, sweet comes to mind; but not at Anasazi. Vintner Jim Fish also has been producing a more traditional wine from Syrah grapes; and additionally blends traditional grapes with other fruits for unique blends. All Jim’s wines are oak aged.
Anasazi’s deeply flavored 1995 Apricot wine, made of fruit from ONE apricot tree, is a harmonious meshing of dried apricot, apple juice and a dollop of oak from entry through the long finish. Pair this with Stilton cheese blended with apricot bits and a handful of roasted walnuts for a match made in heaven.
A multi-year tasting of Anasazi’s Syrah was an adventure! He sometimes blends in other grapes, including Black Malvasia and Gamay into the Syrah, and each displays a personality of its own. The 2005 is full of concentrated ripe fruit. Blackberry syrup flavors are focused on mid palate, framed with spice notes. The 2004 was considerably more rustic, with raisiny characteristics and a definite earthiness. The 2003 opens with fruity, peppery aromas and enters the mouth with juicy dark berry, spicy pepper and dusty notes. Nicely balanced with a clean finish. The 2002 has a bright fruit aroma with a dash of oak in the nose. It boasts a viscous texture, expressive fruit and forest floor nuances, and that spicy pepper prevails on the palate with this vintage as well. The 2001 vintage was a conundrum to my palate; both sweet and tart, and exceedingly ripe. The 2000 vintage, which is 100% Syrah; was a jammy, full bodied powerhouse of a Syrah with a pleasant earthy quality. The pretty bright fruit is holding exceptionally well for this 8 year old wine. Anasazi Fields Winery is located at 26 Camino de Los Pueblitos Road in Placitas (a 40 minute drive from Albuquerque), and opens to visitors at 12 noon on weekends; or you may call to make an appointment at 505 867-3062.
My impressions here convince me once again that wines deserving merit can be and are being made throughout many U.S. regions; and what fun it is to discover them!