Yes, Mexicans Do Wine!
Never mind if you might not have known and yet now you do – Mexico makes wines and deserve a proper tasting
Drum up Mexico in any context entailing alcohol and they trot out shot glasses, salt, lime and a fetching bottle of Tequila. The mezcalesque association is certainly a matter of perpetual Mexican pride. But you’d be pleasantly surprised to know of Mexico’s winemaking chops and sheer breadth of styles that this North American country makes, distinct from California across the border and more frosty Canadian climes. Mexico’s wine history dates back to the 16th century when Spanish Conquistadors planted the first vines. Turbulent centuries followed with a long phase in the 18th century when church folk made the wine. A modern renaissance sprouted in the early 1970s leading to an industry with proper shape and character. Today, Mexico has nearly 8000 acres under vine and regions have established distinct identity and quality standards. While each region has evolved a certain style, Mexican wines on the whole are fairly weighty, bubbling with ripe fruit and spices thanks to the warm climate that nearly pervades the entire country.
The northern regions of Sonora and Baja California produce almost 90 per cent of Mexican wines. Baja California enjoys oceanic influence much like California across the border thus making some quality Cabernet, Tempranillo and Merlot. The other significant region is Valle La Laguna – Mexico’s oldest wine region – sat in Central Mexico in the states of Durango and Coahuila. The region is largely desert but its day night temperature difference has encouraged the production of intense and full bodied reds. The notable cool micro-climate of Valle de Parras in Coahuila is sought after for its take on noble white grapes, especially Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Central Mexico is also where winemakers make bubblies they call (vinos espumosos). No one quite knows whether to slot Mexico in as a new or old world country, given the country’s centuries old winemaking tradition though in its present form with liberal rules and young adventurous winemakers running the show, Mexico certainly rates as an exciting if unsung brave new world.