Vine Social: A visit to Mexican Wine Bootcamp in Baja Was Eye-Opening—and Past Spectacular
I’m all the time a bit of shocked when prospects come into the store asking for “native wines.” Take a brief drive down Interstate 10, and also you’ll see that not a lot grows out in these sand dunes.
For a very long time, my suggestion was a bottle of wine from Santa Barbara. A scenic 230-mile drive northwest will land you within the Sta. Rita Hills or Santa Maria, the place you may style lovely chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah. Up till lately, my notion was that was as “native” as you have been going to get. A few of you’re pondering, “However wait! What about Temecula?!” My reply is that this: So far as I do know, Temecula wines usually are not bought outdoors of Temecula. And I’ve but to style something from Temecula (other than one vineyard referred to as Vindemia) that’s well worth the drive.
So, Santa Barbara was my suggestion till I found the “different” 230-miles-away wine area. I’m speaking in regards to the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja, Mexico. Sure, Mexican wine.
I’m recent off one other journey to this superb valley, the place I spent three days with fellow sommeliers from across the nation, together with winemakers and principals from not solely the Valle, however from throughout Mexico. It was referred to as Mexican Wine Bootcamp, and I can’t consider a extra acceptable title for the 12-hour-long days spent tasting a whole lot of wines, touring lovely properties, and consuming a few of the finest meals I’ve ever tasted.
I do know, poor me.
On day one, our group met in San Diego and boarded a motor coach headed for the San Ysidro border crossing into Tijuana. Up to now, once I’ve pushed down myself, I’ve used the Tecate port of entry, which is way less complicated when you’re headed there from the Coachella Valley. Both approach, crossing into Mexico couldn’t be simpler. Coming again over the border into the U.S. … effectively, that’s an entire totally different ballgame.
We arrived at Hilo Negro vineyard round 3 p.m. to a sparkling-wine reception of their lovely and trendy tasting room. We sampled dozens of scrumptious bubbles from the wineries of Symmetria, Bruma and Tresparauno in Baja, and Vinaltura, Casa Vegil and San Juanito from Queretaro.
As soon as our palate was warmed up, we headed up the hill to the restaurant at Hilo Negro for dinner and a tasting session with one in every of Baja’s most iconic winemakers, Daniel Lonnberg. Initially from Santiago, Chile, the place he was the winemaker for Concha y Toro, Daniel relocated to Baja after working just a few harvests. He now could be the wine advisor for greater than a half-dozen wineries in Baja, in addition to his personal label referred to as Vinsur.
It was after 11 p.m. after we obtained again to the resort to crash—earlier than beginning over again at 9 a.m. Consuming for a dwelling is hard work.
Day two was targeted on the worldwide affect on winemaking in Mexico and the avant garde pure type of wines being made throughout the nation.
We started our day at Adobe Guadalupe, one of many early pioneers of wines in Baja, with a surprising 60-acre property. The vineyard, tasting room, villas and gardens really feel such as you’re in a Spanish colonial fairy story from the sixteenth century. This was a extra intimate tasting, highlighting the winemakers which have come from everywhere in the world to make wine in Mexico, like Camillo Magoni from Italy, Agostina Astegiano from Argentina, Taylor Grant from California, Christoph Gärtner from Switzerland, and the Lurton household, house owners of Grand Cru Classe, Chateau Brane-Cantenac, from Margaux in Bordeaux, France. These are only a few of the winemakers who’ve left their wine homeland to discover and domesticate the burgeoning Mexican wine tradition.
From there, it was off to the brand new Mercado at Bruma Vineyard to style the pure, or because it’s typically referred to as, “minimal intervention” wines. These are wines which can be usually decrease in alcohol, wild-yeast fermented, and organically or biodynamically farmed, with enjoyable and off-beat labels. Greatest described as wine the place nothing is added and nothing is taken away, these wines usually are not precisely conventional of their taste profile—however they’re crisp and vibrant, and paired superbly with the recent, al pastor tacos we have been served.
Lulu Martinez is the winemaker for Bruma (together with a number of a number of different wines like Palafox and Casa Jipi) and is extensively thought-about a very powerful feminine winemaker in Mexico. She reduce her tooth working as a part of the winemaking staff at none aside from Chateau Brane-Cantenac in Bordeaux, the place she met Henri Lurton. He expressed a need to make wine in Mexico and knew Lulu was the right match to grow to be his winemaker within the Valle de Guadalupe.
We toured the vineyard and grounds at Bruma (an absolute must-visit!), after which it was off to get pleasure from dinner al fresco of their wine backyard, tucked away within the vineyards.
Hear me once I let you know: The meals and the gracious hospitality in Mexico is unparalleled. Unequivocally, the perfect meals of my life have been within the Valle. The tradition is heat, and the persons are past welcoming and sort. The dinner at Bruma, underneath the comfortable glow of string lights within the oak timber, was unforgettable. Contemporary, handmade pasta, wood-fired pizza and lately picked backyard greens have been only a glimpse of what the evening had in retailer.
As soon as once more, it was near midnight when my head hit the pillow—solely to stand up just a few hours later and do all of it once more!
The third and remaining day of “bootcamp” began with a seminar on the Museum of the Vine and Wine, the place we mentioned the way forward for wine manufacturing in Mexico, and easy methods to finest current these beautiful choices to American wine lovers. I tasted wines from throughout central and northern Mexico; I used to be fully blown away by the cabernet sauvignon and syrah of Guanajuato. I fell in love with the crimson blends from Queretaro and Aguascalientes, and the gorgeous, high-elevation (7,000 ft!) malbec from Coahuila.
The rest of the day was spent on the distant vineyard of Photo voltaic Fortun, which featured tiny boutique producers that make lower than 3,000 circumstances per 12 months, adopted by a night at Casa Magoni vineyard, which showcased the bigger operations which can be extra well-known. Dinner was a conventional complete hog asado with all of the fixings. In the event you’ve by no means seen this South American type of cooking—the place the animal is flayed open, held on an iron cross, and slow-roasted over an open hearth—it’s stunning and superb all on the similar time.
This superior group of wine aficionados spent our final evening collectively sitting round hearth pits, consuming like royalty, and sprucing off the final of the wines.
The Valle de Guadalupe is a magical place for lovers of wine, meals and hospitality. Don’t underestimate the wines of Mexico. Identical to Napa’s wines 40 years in the past, they simply hold getting higher and higher!