Argentina and Chile are known for their wine around the world, not to mention Italy, California, Germany, and more. For some reason, Mexico remains the wine underdog. From our perspective we are not sure why. It could be that tequila is this countries legend, but that should not throw great wine out as an option.
Lately we have been trying more Mexican wines; partly out of solidarity and partly out of an increased curiosity. We are loving the experience. Like anywhere, not every bottle is great, but not every bottle is bad. In fact we have had more good bottles than bad, which is why I want to share this information.
The Mexican wine industry reminds me of the Canadian wine experience/struggle. No one seems to want to take these vineyards seriously, so it takes a few very outspoken, dedicated owners and vitners to convince the public that their product is good. Donald Ziraldo was one of those wine makers who tirelessly traveled the world talking about, promoting, and tirelessly educating others about the Canadian wine industry and Canadian wines. When he unveiled his Canadian ice wine, people started to listen. It seems the Mexican wine industry is starting to get as outspoken and productive as this Canadian icon.
Casa Madero won top honors at the 2014 International Organization of Vine and Wine Awards held in Paris. Their Chenin Blanc received a Gold Medal. Their competition was 3000 wines from 140 countries. Additionally, Casa Madero won a silver medal for their Pink Chenin Blanc 2012 at the Le Mondial de Rose Competition. Snaps for Casa Madero, a favorite vineyard of ours and many of our friends.
Like many interesting tales that shaped Mexican history, the Spanish have a hand in the discovery and eventual ban of Mexican vineyards and wine production. In the late 1500s Spanish explorers looking for gold fell upon wild grapevines growing in Mexico’s northern desert. In 1574, Mision de Santa Maria de las Parras was built for the sole purpose of producing local wine. The Spaniards were excited, and the crops were healthy. Then the story goes south.
The production was so good, the conditions so perfect for grape production, the Spanish banned any further wine production in 1699 in fear that they would have competition from the New World. For 200 years Mexico was only allowed to produce a small amount of grapes that were used for wine soley for the purpose of religious ceremonies. Public consumption or distribution was prohibited. Exportation, banned. The Mision and other wineries stopped.
In 1893, Don Evaristo Madero bought the Mision de Santa Maria located in the Valley of Parras, and pursued the production of Mexican wine. Valle de Parras was perfect for his vines, a soil with the right balance of clay and a large amount of minerals. The environment had the right balance of humidity and the surrounding water was perfect for irrigation.
It is here that Casa Madero wines were born. Casa Madero produces both wine and cognac at their on-site distillery. Shiraz grape varieties and Chenin Blanc are their treasured viness. Located just west of Monterrey, this winery is far from the famous Valley de Guadalupe just south of the US border on the west coast. But closer to the Riviera Maya!
What is your opinion of Mexican wine?