Discovering Mexican Wine

I have been away from the blog for almost one month because of travel, illness, and other life experiences some great some not great at all but I am back. Discovering a new country is always so much fun. Today’s post is about discovering Mexican Wine. Years ago I bought a book on Wines from Baja but I have not yet had the chance to use that guide. When David of Cooking Chat offered access to samples, I jumped at the chance and here we are.

I received the two wines. They were sent to the wrong apartment building which in my neighborhood is not a small issue but thanks to a UPS employee who remembered the name of my company and where I live and my lovely doorman, I was able to recover them and taste these beauties. All of this to say, Mexican wine came to me in a circuitous fashion and I am glad it did.

Mexico may be a new country in terms of wine to me but wine has been there since the 16th century when the Spanish came to Mexico and brought vines with them, making Mexico the oldest wine producing country in the Americas.

The grapes really thrived in the Americas and they began to drink less Spanish wines so as often happens, the monarch at the time prohibited wine making in Mexico, Charles II except for the Church, again, typical in many areas. Fast forward to Mexican Independence in the early 1800s and wine production is taking place and starts to grow slowly because prohibitions are no longer in place from Spain.

Mexico is below the 30th parallel. Traditionally wine is grown in countries between the 30th and the 50th parallels. Internal wine consumption is not as high in Mexico as elsewhere because of tradition and taxes. Beer, Tequila, and Mezcal are much more tradition beverages in this hot country.

While there are three main wine producing areas, Baja, California produces much of the wine and is also a center for wine tourism.

The sparkling wine I received was from the Freixenet Group. The winery is called Finca Sala Vivé and the wine Dona Dolores. It’s similar to a Cava in that the grapes are Xarel.lo and Macabeu although the fruit was riper and more tropical than on most Cavas I have tasted. It was fantastic and my Mom finished the bottle without me in a flash. We both loved it and I celebrated a trip I was going on to Italy with a couple of glasses. I didn’t pair it with anything at the time other than my excitement of my first International trip since February 2020.

About the property and the area, apparently the Freixenet Group bought property in the state of Querétaro which eventually became Finca Sala Vivé. Querétaro is located in north-central Mexico. Reading about the geography and different microclimes of the state is actually fascinating. Although it is among the smallest in Mexico, it is rich with both history and interesting topography.

The vineyards are at high altitudes, 2000 meters above sea level so that there is the necessary thermal excursion which allows the grapes to ripen and to cool alternatively, making it a wonderful place for sparkling wine. When we think about countries we always think of how hot they are but rarely about elevation within the country which can change the story completely.

The second wine I received was from Vinos Guaname. This was a Malbec, redolent with black fruit, earthy notes, spice, chocolate, and some tar. It had spent 12 months in the barrel and the oak and the alcohol were noticeable. I paired it with sausage pizza and it made the pizza pop. I had wanted to make all sorts of interesting dishes but this period has been so complex, it didn’t work out. The pairing was great and the wine was loads of fun. I rarely drink Malbec anymore since I hung up my Tango shoes because of a ripped ACL and then my son but it is a fun grape and I was happy to be reminded of it before it’s official birthday on April 17th, if memory serves.

The family that owns this winery are cattle farmers. The winery is located in Guanajuato. According to the Tozi Imports webiste, “Vinos Guanamé was founded in 2011 in San Felipe, Guanajuato. This is about 6 hours north of Mexico City in the center of the country.”

They further discuss how the Torres family moved from Cattle to winemaking for the family to a more commercial venture that now makes around 10,000 cases a year. High elevation helps them in terms of the height of their vineyards to produce quality fruit.

To learn more about Mexican wine and food pairings that work with it, be sure to check out all of these Wine Pairing Weekend articles!

  • Wendy from a A Day in the Life on the Farm will share “Mexican Foods and Wines always provide for a Perfect Fiesta”
  • Susannah from Avvinare is “Discovering Mexican Wine”
  • Jen from Vino Travels is taking “A First Look at Mexican Wines Including Italian Grapes”
  • Carlos from Carlos’ Food & Wine is serving up “Mexican wines featuring sparkling wine risotto & grilled hanger steak with mushroom-red wine sauce”
  • Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is sharing “Outside the Pigeon-Hole: Pairing Mexican Wine with Thai Cuisine”
  • Gwendolyn from Wine Predator Gwendolyn Alley features “Sparkling Wine from Mexico For #TacoTuesday” 
  • Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles will share “Mexican Wines – 2 wines from the central Mexican highlands of Querétaro #WinePW”
  • Linda from My Full Wine Glass is “Saying ‘hola’ to Mexican Tempranillo and sparkling wine”
  • Martin from ENOFLZ Wine Blog will share “Exploring Mexican Wine Beyond Baja”
  • Nicole from Somm’s Table is “Sipping Mexican Wines with a Bowl of Birria”
  • Liz at What’s in that Bottle will post “Salud a Los Vinos de Mexico!” 
  • Terri from Our Good Life will pair “Grassfed Ribeye with Steak Butter and Grilled Oyster Mushrooms Paired with Monte Xanic Cabernet Sauvignon”
  • Here on Cooking Chat we pair “Roasted Beet Pesto Pasta with Mexican Merlot”

18 comments

  1. Enjoyed your intro to Mexico. You might be interested in the Italian connection in Baja through Cetto, Casa Magoni and others. See my Baja reviews at winereviewonline.com And just discovered an excellent Nebbiolo.

  2. It is so fascinating how altitude can make such a difference with wine even at such a warm latitude. I so enjoyed this sparkling wine!
    Thinking of you! I hope you have time to rest, catch up and that this Mexican sparkling wine has returned the sparkle to your life!

    • Thank you Robin. Yes I enjoyed it a lot. Some complicated times, health problems, and the passing of a dear friend at a young age thew me but recovering. Just makes me want to get the most out of every minute. xo Susannah

  3. Altitude – yes! Makes all the difference in a hot climate. Hope everything is returning to normal in your life. I was intrigued by your comment about hanging up your Tango shoes, but glad to hear you’re sipping Malbec again.

    • Linda – thanks for writing. Yes I was obsessed with tango and Argentina for about 7 years until I ripped my ACL and had a child. I was never great at Tango but it’s a whole scene and I loved my tango shoes. Everything is slowly getting back to normal. Thanks for checking in. Susannah

  4. So cool you used to Tango. Sorry about the ACL. That Malbec/Pizza pairing sounds delightful and there ain’t nothing wrong with pairing sparkling with celebrate getting through the day!

  5. Both of these wines sound beautiful. And very cool that you used to tango! I’ve always wanted to learn.

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