I’ve been covering the food and wine industry for awhile and during this time I’ve had the privilege of trying wines from countries that are both close to home, and further away – the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and Australia – to name a few. Every discovery has been a rewarding one in its own way.
Over the years I’ve made a mental list of wines from lesser known winemaking areas I would like to try – the Canary Islands for instance – or India. Why? Well, because I’ve never had a single one of course. They are comparably more difficult to find in the U.S. than say, a French or Italian wine.
Nevertheless, I’ve had people tell me “Wines from any country you haven’t had by now probably aren’t worth trying. After all, if they were any good, odds are you would have already happened upon a few on the shelves of some wine shop, or on the wine lists of one restaurant or another. We are in New York City, and one thing we don’t have is a shortage of liquor stores and restaurants.”
But me, I see it differently. The presence, or lack thereof, of a wine from a particular country on a global level can stem from any number of factors. It could be undermarketed. Or it could be that the winemaking industry in these countries aren’t officially organized or lack government support, and as a result, don’t have the proper resources to bring their wines into the international market.
So you can imagine how excited I was to receive an invitation to try wines from Mexico. Yes, Mexico. Our next door neighbor to the south has been producing wine for 400 years and I had no clue that this country even made wine! Beer? Yes! Tequila and Mezcal? Of course. But wine? No.
The Mexican wine event was organized by Martha Cisneros and Erlinda Alexandra Doherty, co-founders of Latinas Wine Club, and Wines of MX. So what motivated Martha to promote the awareness and understanding of Mexican wines internationally? She figures she’s been educating the public for years about wines from all over the world, so why not wines from her native Mexico?
I tried five Mexican wines alongside a small group of wine industry media at the French Cheese Board in Nolita.
First up was a Monte Xanic Sauvignon Blanc Vina Kristel from the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja. It consisted of 100% stainless steel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc. This softly acidic white wine was fruit-forward and round, with fresh grass and white flower aromas, and ripe lemon, apple, and orange, as well as sweet pear notes.
There was also some salinity because the vineyards are situated about 10 miles from the Pacific coast in Baja. This maritime location enjoys more temperate weather than its counterparts further inland, making it ideal for growing grapes that ripen more slowly and fully, therefore enabling them to retain a greater amount of sugar and acidity.First, contrary to most people’s idea of complete abstinence being put into practice, you’d better take regular sexual life, which would both ease the disease and avoid the prostate cialis properien djpaulkom.tv gland for a long time to induce inflammation and infection. The tablet is absorbed by the patient after 30-60 minutes after administration and start working on your system by inhibiting the accelerator PDE5 (phosphodiesterase type) found in penis. viagra on line This is levitra online taken once per day by the patients. cheapest cialis uk In India, this methodology is developed by Hashmi Herbal Pharmacy.
The breezes from the Cortez sea located at the tip of the Baja peninsula also cool the area. The grapes grown under these conditions contain less alcohol than those that are produced under hotter climate conditions.
The Monte Xanic Sauvignon Blanc Vina Kristel is Mexico’s most enduring and best selling wine and it’s fully represented in the international market, notably, Italy and France. This wine is best enjoyed within two to three years of its release.
An RG/MX Blanco from the Valle de Parras, Coahuila followed. It was comprised of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. I remember looking at the straw-colored liquid as it was being poured into my glass and trying to reconcile the fact that it was made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. In essence, it was a white wine made from the arguably, queen of red grapes.
I’ve rarely seen a Cabernet Sauvignon expressed as a white wine. This Cabernet Sauvignon attested to the innovative approach Mexican winemakers employ when crafting their wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon was produced using only the free run juice from the grapes after they were pressed. The juice spent no time on the lees. So you get all the natural flavors and acidity of the fruit, and none of the tannins. It’s the skin contact of the grape juice with its skins that gives rose’ and red wines their deeper color. This maceration process along with wood barrel aging are responsible for the presence of tannins and the oaky and toasty qualities in red wines. No skin contact equals no significant color.
Maria Rivero González, the CEO of RG/MX winery, decided to take the unconventional route when it came to making this Cabernet Sauvignon because it suited Mexico’s characteristically hot climate more than that of a conventional oak-driven red Cabernet Sauvignon.
Producing a Cabernet Sauvignon using stainless steel vats and skipping the skin contact results in a light and refreshing wine that emphasizes the grape’s inherent fresh citrus and red fruit aromas, and its juicy orange, raspberry, and young plum notes. This is one Cabernet Sauvignon you can drink outside on hot summer days.
Maria went in the opposite direction when she made the RG/MX Naranja. It consisted of 80% Palomino and 20% Riesling and it had a tint that fell somewhere between the color of a Provencal rose’ and a golden- hued fortified wine. The color of this wine was achieved by leaving the juice from these white grapes on the lees (only the skins of Riesling were used in the maceration process to bring out the acidity) for a prolonged amount of time, resulting in a beautiful orange colored wine with hints of menthol and earth, and a pronounced acidity. It also gives off scents and flavors that are expressive of fortified wine, characterized by aromas of dried fruit, herbs, and grass, and notes of preserved fruit jams, and sours.
The last two wines presented were reds. The first, a Santo Tomas Mision Tinto from Valle de Guadalupe in Baja was comprised of 60% Mission, 20% Carignan, and 20% Tempranillo. Mission (also known as listan negro), is a heritage grape, meaning it’s a varietal that has been cultivated in the Americas for at least a century, and is not considered a hybrid of another grape strain.
The Spaniards brought this grape to Mexico centuries ago and used it primarily to administer the sacrament. The name of the grape itself is derived from the term missionary, a nod to the role it served in religious services. The listan negro originated in the Canary Islands, but it can also be found in Chile, in addition to Mexico.
This wine was young, light-bodied, and fruit-driven. It had a fresh acidity, bright raspberry, and mixed black fruit aromas, and juicy dark berry and cherry notes. It can be drunk slightly chilled, making it an ideal red wine for hotter climates.
The final wine we tasted was a medium-bodied
Monte Xanic Gran Ricardo Bordeaux blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. It was also young and fresh, with strawberry, raspberry, and plum aromas, and lush mixed berry and dark fruit notes.
The co-founders referred to Mexico as the “Wild West” of wines in that there aren’t many established rules here yet governing winemaking techniques. No official commissions have been established so far to designate what grapes can be planted in any particular area. This lack of regulation can be regarded as positive or negative depending on how you view it, but one thing it has allowed Mexican winemakers to do is to make wines using innovative approaches to international varietals that are reflective of their individual interpretations of Mexico’s distinctive history, culture, and terroir, factors that come together to make this land unlike any other.