The "beyond" part stole the show at last Friday's tasting, which sprawled through two patios at Union Station.
A corner of one patio was filled with the largest display of Mexican wines in the benefit's eight-year history, more than you could taste anywhere else in Los Angeles.
Nine wineries from Baja's Valle de Guadalupe took part, pouring 17 wines. This made possible such taste tests as comparing two identical versions of a red wine labeled Ensamble, produced by Paralelo (at right).
Both wines were from the same year, 2008, and combined the same five varietals in the same proportions. Only they didn't taste anything like each other.
The wine called Colina, made from grapes grown in clay soil on a hill, was full of minerals, even saltiness. The other wine, Arenal, from grapes grown in sandy soil in the valley, lacked any of this.
That same salty minerality showed up in the Madera 5 Tempranillo-Cabernet from Cava Aragón 126.
Hacienda La Lomita, one of the newest wineries in the valley, poured its 2010 Sacro, a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend, and a bright, fresh young red, the 2011 Pagano, which is 100% Grenache.
Viñas de Garza's two wines (above) were the 2007 Amado IV, composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo and Zinfandel, and the 2007 Colina Norte, primarily Tempranillo blended with Grenache and Carignane.
The other wineries that took part were Aborigen, Casa de Piedra, Estación de Oficios and Vinisterra.
Aside from wine, the standout drink was an infused tequila called Mujer from Rivera restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Sweetened with piloncillo and smoothed out with vanilla, it tasted like a rich liqueur.
Rivera chef/owner John Rivera Sedlar, showing the bottle (at right), said the base was reposado tequila, to which he added vanilla beans from Veracruz and Madagascar. Piloncillo, which is unrefined cane sugar, provided deep, mellow flavor rather than sugary sweetness.