Wine production in Mexico dates back to the early 16th century when Spanish colonizers first introduced winemaking to the region. Today, Mexico produces wine in several regions across the country including Baja California, Coahuila, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, and Guanajuato. Some of the key grape varietals grown in Mexico include Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Merlot, Chenin Blanc, and Colombard. While Mexican wines were predominantly produced for local consumption in the past, over the last few decades Mexico’s wine industry has significantly modernized and expanded. This growth, along with increasing international recognition, has bolstered the quality and reputation of Mexican wines globally.
What are the main wine regions in Mexico?
The main wine producing regions in Mexico include:
- Baja California – Mexico’s most acclaimed wine region located in the northwestern part of the country along the Baja California peninsula. Primarily focused on producing full-bodied red wines.
- Coahuila – An emerging wine region in northern Mexico known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.
- Querétaro – Located in central Mexico, Querétaro features a high-altitude climate suitable for wine production. Known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.
- Aguascalientes – Situated in north-central Mexico, the vineyards in Aguascalientes grow a diversity of grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, and Chenin Blanc.
- Zacatecas – A historic wine region in north-central Mexico that is reviving its wine industry and traditions.
- Guanajuato – An up-and-coming wine region in central Mexico focused on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Tempranillo.
The Baja California wine region is Mexico’s most prestigious and internationally recognized wine region. The terroir and climate of Baja California have been compared to prominent wine regions like Napa Valley and Bordeaux. Baja California produces 90% of Mexico’s wine, especially in the Valle de Guadalupe sub-region.
What are some of the most popular grapes and wine styles from Mexico?
Some of the most popular grapes and wine styles from the major wine regions in Mexico include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Mexico’s most planted red grape variety that thrives in the Baja California, Coahuila and Guanajuato regions. Produces medium to full-bodied reds.
- Tempranillo – Mexico’s second most popular red grape known for its use in Spanish Rioja wines. Grown across several regions and produces light to full-bodied red wines.
- Nebbiolo – A popular Italian red grape variety that has adapted well to central Mexico and produces robust, tannic red wines.
- Merlot – A soft, approachable red wine grape that grows successfully in Baja California, Querétaro and other regions.
- Chenin Blanc – One of Mexico’s most popular white grape varietals that can produce dry or sweet wines.
- Chardonnay – A highly versatile white grape that produces unoaked and oaked wines across Mexico.
Red wine blends featuring Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo and other red grapes are also popular. Mexican wines range from crisp, light bodied whites to elegant, complex reds.
What are some of the top, high quality wine producers in Mexico?
Some of the top, premium wine producers in Mexico include:
- Casa Madero – Mexico’s oldest winery founded in 1597, acclaimed for Cabernet Sauvignon and blends.
- L.A. Cetto – One of Mexico’s largest and most exported wine producers, known for quality wines.
- Monte Xanic – Baja California winery crafting single vineyard Cabernets and blends.
- Adobe Guadalupe – Specializing in Rhône style wines and blends in Baja California.
- Vinícola del Rosario – Boutique Baja California winery producing estate grown wines.
- Decantos – Family-owned winery in Coahuila making wines from international and Spanish grape varieties.
- Casa Quattro Cielos – Small-production wines from Valle de Guadalupe using minimal intervention.
These producers and others are leading the way for Mexican fine wines, putting the country on the map as an up-and-coming wine producer.
What are some specific Mexican wine labels and bottles that are considered high quality?
Here are some specific Mexican wine labels and bottles that are considered among the country’s top quality offerings:
- Casa Madero 3V Valle de Guadalupe Cabernet Sauvignon – A full-bodied, award-winning Cab from one of Mexico’s most historic wineries.
- Monte Xanic Gran Ricardo – An iconic, blended red wine from Valle de Guadalupe produced only in exceptional vintages.
- L.A. Cetto Private Reserve Nebbiolo – A complex, food-friendly Nebbiolo from one of Mexico’s wine pioneers.
- Adobe Guadalupe Kerubiel – An elegant Rhône style blend that exemplifies this producer’s winemaking finesse.
- Viñedos Malagón Tinto Cimarrón Gran Reserva – A nuanced, aged Tempranillo blend exemplifying the wines of Querétaro.
- Viñedos Don Leo Crianza – Rustic, complex Tempranillo from the emerging Coahuila wine region.
These specific bottles showcase the diversity of grape varieties and winemaking styles coming out of Mexico’s most lauded regions and producers.
What is the price range for high quality Mexican wines?
The price range for premium quality Mexican wines is typically:
- Lower-end: $15 – $25 USD
- Mid-range: $25 – $50 USD
- High-end: $50 – $100+ USD
Entry-level Mexican wines can offer good value in the $10-$15 price range as well. Luxury, estate and reserve wines from leading producers like Casa Madero, Monte Xanic and L.A. Cetto can often run over $100 USD.
In general, the $15-$50 USD price segment allows accessibility to very well-made wines that express the potential of Mexico’s terroir and grapes.
Where are some of the best places to buy quality Mexican wines?
Here are some excellent options for buying quality Mexican wines:
- Online wine retailers that specialize in Mexican wines – vinomex.com, mexgrocer.com
- Wine shops and wholesalers in major US cities like Los Angeles, Houston, New York
- Visiting winery tasting rooms directly in wine regions like Valle de Guadalupe and Querétaro
- Duty-free shops at airports in Mexico
- Restaurants that focus on Mexican cuisine and wines
- Direct from the wineries’ websites – many offer online purchasing and shipping
Seeking out reputable Mexican wine specialists, whether retailers, wholesalers or restaurants, is key to finding the best selection. Direct winery purchases also ensure the wines are authentic and properly stored/transported.
What food pairings work well with Mexican wines?
Mexican wines pair wonderfully with Mexican cuisine and other spicy, robust flavors. Recommended food pairings include:
- Tempranillo with mole sauce and braised meats
- Merlot with quesadillas, carnitas, and tamales
- Chardonnay with ceviche, fish tacos, and seafood
- Cabernet Sauvignon with carne asada and enchiladas
- Chenin Blanc with zesty chicken fajitas and jalapeño poppers
- Nebbiolo with red chili tamales and chorizo sausage
- Sangiovese with chiles rellenos and red snapper
The regional diversity of Mexican cuisine provides endless possibilities for creative pairings with Mexico’s range of expressive wines.
What are the current trends in Mexican winemaking?
Current trends in Mexican winemaking include:
- Focus on premium, estate-grown wines using sustainable practices
- Increased quality focus on terroir expression over volume
- More single varietal wines, especially spotlighting Mexican heritage grapes
- Producing wines with greater complexity, nuance, refinement
- Aging wines in oak barrels, especially French and American oak
- Experimenting with varied grape varieties like Malbec, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc
- Gradual growth of ecotourism in wine regions
- Marketing efforts to increase national and international awareness of Mexican wine
Overall, there is a drive across Mexico to shift perceptions about its wines, highlighting quality over quantity. Sophisticated winemaking, terroir-driven bottlings, and premium branding are becoming hallmarks of contemporary Mexican wine production.
How do Mexican wines compare in quality to wines from other countries?
When comparing Mexican wines to other wine producing countries:
- They generally offer strong value in the lower price segments ($10-$25) and can compete with entry-level wines from Chile, Argentina, Spain and the US.
- Premium Mexican wines ($25-$60) display quality on par with mid-range offerings from established wine countries and regions.
- High-end Mexican wines ($60+) can reflect world class excellence, although production volumes are often very small. The best wines can rival fine wines from California, France and Italy.
- Flavor profiles are distinctive, with Mexican wines often expressing vibrancy, minerality, herbs/spices and both red and black fruit notes.
Mexico is still discovering and establishing its terroir signatures. But leading producers have proven Mexico can make globally competitive, sophisticated wines. The quality trajectory continues to ascend rapidly.