Mexican Wine Is Coming into Its Own
By Sandra Ríos
Soon the wine harvest will take place in San Miguel de Allende and its surroundings. We want to share three steps you can take to better know and understand wine. Broadly speaking, the first step is to observe: see its structure and color. Next, smell and discover the flavors it contains. This is called the “nose.” Afterward, it is recommended to move the cup in a circular way to agitate the liquid. This step is known as “second nose,” when new scents are discovered. Finally, sip it to note its flavors and acidity, among other qualities. To know more about wine in Mexico, we interviewed Araél Goméz Tello, an expert sommelier who recently settled in this city. He would like to tell us about the wine produced in Mexico.
Sandra Ríos: What does developing a good wine entail?
Araél Gómez: Wine has been developing and merging with much crossbreeding done throughout humanity. The process was discovered in Asia Minor and moved into Europe over several thousand years. The Romans spread wine development throughout Europe, and the Catholic Church maintained it through the Middle Ages. The Renaissance cuisine and wine had great success, so much so that many families from the Renaissance are still the major wine producers worldwide, with continued recognition, tradition, and hierarchy in the wine world.
SR: Wine came to Mexico through the hands of the Spanish, but how was it that they began to produce wine in our country?
AG: It comes from the Church missionaries and through other Spaniards who cultivated the vine. As it was part of their diet, they planted their grapes and made their own wine. They started planting vines in Mexico City, around the Castillo de Chapultepec, and in the highlands and tended vineyards as a project of the Spanish crown. Because production of Mexican wine lowered the selling price of wine in Spain and a number of Spaniards immigrated to New Spain and produced their own wine here, King Felipe II commanded that no more wine could be produced in New Spain to be exported to Spain. Wine production until the mid-twentieth century was halted.
SR: Again wine culture is growing up in Mexico, and more wine industries are being created.
AG: Wine has been developing along with gastronomy. Twenty years ago the restaurant industry in Mexico was unique to certain social sectors. The phenomenon of gastronomy as a cultural movement generated during the last 10 years in Mexican restaurants now competes for a better selection of wines. This creates a more informed, more demanding, and more interested diner who opens the door for the wine industry.
SR: What kind of wine can be found in Mexico?
AG: Ensenada is the region that produces the best quality wines in Mexico because it has Mediterranean climate conditions. There we find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel. Nebbiolo and Barbera are very particular wines produced in Baja California Norte. In Coahuila, they produce a very good Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay.
SR: What do you think of the vineyards of San Miguel?
AG: I love the idea of vineyards here because it gives San Miguel a different life from being a tourist attraction. This is young wine that is just beginning, and it will take a while for these blends to take on the personality the vintners want to impart to their wines.