It’s thirsty work exploring the region leading Mexico’s wine revival, says Shannon Harley.
WHEN YOU THINK of Mexico’s greatest exports, wine is rarely in the mix with tequila, tacos, mezcal and margaritas. However, the country’s lesser-celebrated wine-making culture is experiencing a modern-day renaissance thanks to a new wave of producers and creatives.
Today, wineries exist in several Mexican states, including Sonora, Coahuila and Baja California. The latter is where you’ll find Valle de Guadalupe, ground zero for fine-wine production and the country’s wine destination du jour.
Today’s renaissance can be traced to brothers Hugo and Alejandro D’Acosta, two visionaries instrumental in developing Valle de Guadalupe as a major wine hub. In 2004, French-trained winemaker Hugo founded La Escuelita (‘the little school’) where locals could learn the art of enology, while Alejandro, an architect with a penchant for upcycling, has designed many of the valley’s iconic cellar doors, from Vena Cava, with its upturned fishing boats, to Clos de Tres Cantos, also made from reclaimed materials.
In keeping with this New World order, a distinguishing style is yet to emerge. While a variety of grapes are grown in the valley, the principal varietals are cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo and chardonnay. However, intense climatic conditions result in wines that are far fruitier than their European counterparts, but in no way inferior. In fact, La Lechuza Vineyards’ chardonnay outweighed many Napa options and is on the menu at Thomas Keller’s heavily toqued California restaurant, French Laundry. This frontier mentality of fearless experimentation has created a unique
terroir, where chefs and winemakers are combining local and international ingredients and nouse to create something truly hecho en Mexico (made in Mexico).