Following up on last month’s article on New Mexico wines, I’m showcasing a winery in northern New Mexico that is producing interesting wines and exemplifies the winery experience that you will find in the Land of Enchantment. Black Mesa Winery is located in Velarde on State Route 68, the main road between Santa Fe and Taos, and produces a wide range of single varietal wines and blends.
I had an opportunity to meet with the head winemaker, Karl Johnsen, tour the winery and taste through a number of their current offerings. Karl is in his sixth vintage with Black Mesa and takes great pride in the focus on quality at the winery, considering Black Mesa a “local treasure” in the Velarde Valley. Producing only 7,500 to 9,000 cases a year permits a significant attention to detail during the wine making process. The grapes are sourced from a dozen vineyards from throughout the state, along with the three acres under vine at the winery.
Black Mesa releases up to 35 different wines during a given vintage. While touring the property Johnsen explained “Black Mesa make wines for everybody.” With this goal in mind, Black Mesa produces a wide range of wines from both European varietals as well as hybrid grapes. The winery does offer a selection of sweet wines including an off-dry Riesling, Zinfandel Port and chocolate dessert wine.
A number of their wines have received national recognition including gold and silver medals from both the Denver and Finger Lakes (New York) International wine competitions and a double gold for their 2012 Cabernet Franc at the Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition.
A few of my favorites include: the 2014 Wood Nymph Riesling, a dry white with floral and stone fruit aromatics; the 2012 Pinot Noir, a rich style with black cherry notes and a long finish; and the 2014 Barbera, a lighter, bright red with red cherry flavors.
If you are in the area you can taste their wines at the charming tasting room and gift shop adjacent to the winery in Velarde or at their storefront tasting room in Taos. For travelers with a self-contained RV, Black Mesa is a “Harvest Host” welcoming campers to park for free overnight and visit their vineyards and tasting room. Information on their locations, hours and events can be found at their website: blackmesawinery.com
Tom Oetinger holds an advanced certification in wine & spirits from the WSET in London, England and is available to answer your wine questions at firstname.lastname@example.org