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Herve Lescombes (center) began the St. Clair Winery in 1984 in New Mexico. Today, his sons Emmanuel and Florent manage the winery and its three bistros in the state.

Cheers to 2018!

As we bring in the new, we welcome winter for the next couple to three months before our Texas weather starts to warm again. Many of us will take this time to enjoy snow skiing in the mountains of New Mexico.

One of the best southwestern wineries is in Deming, New Mexico, named St. Clair. The most popular of its wines that I sold, and many will remember, was the Lescombes Imperial Kir. So if you’re heading to New Mexico for a break, stop by or find one of its highly acclaimed bistros throughout the state.

The family that runs St. Clair is the sixth generation of French winemakers whose family’s lineage spanned three continents. Hervé Lescombes ran the successful Domaine de Perignon Winery in Burgundy, France. He was drawn to New Mexico due to its similar climate to his native Algeria. In 1981, he made his first plantings. In 1984, his first vintage was bottled.

Over the past few years his sons Emmanuel and Florent have taken over managing the business while their father enjoys the vineyard from his on-site home and wine cellar he built himself.

The Winery

The winery is nestled in the heart of the Mimbres Valley in Deming in southwestern New Mexico, America’s oldest wine-producing region. The winery is situated on 15 acres and has a 500,000-gallon capacity.

The winery is composed of more than 50 tanks, each up to 16,200 gallons in capacity. Most of the tanks are equipped with computer-controlled temperature jackets. An even temperature during fermentation and maturation ensures a consistently high-quality product, they said.

After aging in stainless steel tanks, many red wines (and a few whites) are matured in oak barrels to smooth out tannins and add character inherited from oak contact. Each oak barrel holds approximately 60 gallons, with the wine remaining in the barrel anywhere between three months to two years.

Bistros, Too

The Lescombes family owns and operates three St. Clair Winery & Bistro locations across New Mexico, located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Farmington. The wine-making team collaborates with the chef to create an extensive menu that easily pairs with its wines.

The locations, including a tasting room in Deming, are open for wine tastings seven days a week.

Wines in Review

Cabernet Franc

Tasting notes: Cabernet Franc is considered the “father” of Cabernet sauvignon, so it is no wonder that it is so full of character, structure and complexity. A dark, robust garnet-red shines through this inky wine, with a heavy viscosity that alludes to a rich, thick mouthfeel. Its nose is complex and dynamic, but well-balanced with aromas of pipe tobacco, jammy black currant, plum and subtle violet. The hearty, yet polished flavor profile boasts pleasant, chewy tannins, pepper and herbs like rosemary.

Imperial Kir

Tasting notes: The grapes for this wine are picked early to keep them naturally crisp, acidic and lower in sugar. Imperial Kir is based on the “Kir Imperiale,” a drink first made popular in the late 1800s, and still enjoyed today. The crisp, bubbly wine has a touch of natural raspberry that makes the wine semi-sweet. It boasts a beautiful, light rose color and a crisp flavor profile composed of ripe, juicy raspberries with a hint of melon.

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The Imperial Kir wine is a popular semi-sweet choice for its crisp, bubbly nature.

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This Cabernet Franc by St. Clair Winery in New Mexico is loaded with character, structure and complexity.

Lorrie Dicorte has been in the wine business for 37 years and her family for 90 years. Her grandfather, Billy Dicorte, and cousin, Tony LaBarbera, were the first to import fine wines such as Ch Lafite Rothschild. Lorrie has served on international wine competition judging panels, and is known for her keen smell and taste.