A Few Standout Mexican Wines:
Monte Xanic Cabernet-Merlot 1997 ($17)
Founded in the early '80s, Monte Xanic led the march to quality in the valley with its commitment to low yields and state-of-the art winemaking. Their blend of 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 25 percent Merlot tastes much like a big, bold, fruit-filled Napa red.
L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo 1996 ($20)
The largest producer in Baja, Cetto is known for its modestly priced wines (which include an $8 Petite Sirah), but the real winner is the suave, smoky, spicy, yet surprisingly light-hearted Nebbiolo.
Château Camou El Gran Viño Tinto 1997 ($30)
Made with the assistance of Michel Rolland (one of France's most famous oenologists), Château Camou's classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot offers gobs of superripe, richly extracted red- and black-fruit flavor, supported by a firm foundation of toasty new oak.