When Americans hear “Mexico” and “alcohol”, we think Tequila. Then maybe Mezcal. Beer too. Wine, not so much. But Mexico has been producing wine since the 1520’s, when homesick conquistadors planted vineyards across Central and South America with cuttings from Spanish vines. Whatever devastation Spain wreaked on the countries it conquered, it left a legacy of wine culture in the new world.
Jumping ahead to the late 20th century, Chile and Argentina broke through to the international wine market with Carmenère and Malbec, respectively. Now it’s Mexico’s turn.
We’ve visited Mexico many times and have enjoyed local wines from dominant producer Monte Xanic. So when Commonwealth Wine School offered a Zoom tasting of “The Wines of Mexico” we signed up. The event was presented by husband-and-wife duo Kenya Medina and Max Murphy, founders of Tozi Imports, a Boston-based Mexican wine and spirits importer.
Part of the fun of these online tastings is running out to the School’s Harvard Square office to pick up the cute little bottles, each with enough juice for two wine-loving adults to have at least three rounds of tasting.
SIX MEXICAN WINES
We tasted wine from three regions: Baja California, Queretaro, and Guanajuato, which Travel & Leisure has dubbed Mexico’s “Next Great Wine Scene.” Regrettably, just one made it to the “must buy” level,the Musica del Marques 2016, [$22 at Vivino] but several wines were a delight to drink.
Monte Xanic Vina Kristal 2020 We had high hopes for this Sauvignon Blanc, as it brought back wonderful memories of our trip to San Jose del Cabo in 2014. For Gary, the memories held true. He gave it 87 points, noting “honeysuckle and fresh pear” on the nose and a satisfying, “almost syrupy” palate with lemon-grapefruit-apricot and lychee fruit notes, finishing with granite minerality.” Lisa was less satisfied, agreeing that it had a lovely “perfumed nose” but found the flavor “tinny and grassy.”
Vinas de la Erre Cuvee Blanc 2019 Gary says he “erred” in putting this wine in his glass. [He is permitted one pun per post] The “forest-floor nose” is followed by sour cream and spoiled apricots on the palate.” He gave it 76 points. Lisa was far more bullish on this off-dry white blend, enjoying its “apricot taste and tangy finish” and noting it was “very food friendly.” Lisa doesn’t give points; let’s just say at $26 it’s not worth buying but definitely worth drinking if someone else buys it 🙂
Guaname Rosado 2019 Lisa and Gary agreed on this Merlot-dominant rosé blend – it wasn’t very good. The “forest floor mushroom nose” is followed by an “off-flavor salmon-colored sour juice.” Ay ay ay!
Musica del Marques 2016 We both agree this Nebbiolo deserves “best in show.” A beautiful nose with “blackberry, vanilla and toasted oak notes,” followed by an “earthy, delicious palate” emphasizing the black fruit backbone and a long satisfying finish. Gary scored it 92 points and we’ll be buying a bottle or two.
Cuatro Regiones The 6 (!) grapes in this wine might have led to a magical melange of flavor. Unfortunately, great “toasted oak and vanilla on the nose” doesn’t pay off as the palate is “thin, sour” and “hot” with light strawberry notes; sort of like Robitussin.
Paso de Serra Previo Rouge This deep, dark Syrah, Malbec and Merlot blend has a “toasty oak vanilla nose” accompanied by a “fullness on the palate and a long, dry finish.” Very much in the French style, Gary gave it 89 points.
We’re grateful to Tozi Imports for bringing Mexican wines to the U.S. and look forward to sampling more of their wares soon. If we can’t travel to Mexico yet, we can at least enjoy the vino at home.