Yep, that’s right – I’m toasting with wines from Mexico! Our Wine Pairing Weekend writers group got some samples wines from Tozi Imports in Woburn, MA, who specializes in Mexican wines. Having visited San Miguel de Allende in March 2020 (mmm hmmm, I got home on March 17, and that’s a whole ‘nother story), I was super excited about this.
While in San Miguel in 2020, I had the opportunity to visit the Cuna de Tierra tasting room in town, and one night we drove out of town to San Francisco, a restaurant surrounded by vineyards, where we tasted almost every wine they had. And, we guzzled as much Casa Madero rosé as we could, while we doom-scrolled on Facebook, wondering what the hell was happening! Bottom line: between my experience in 2020 and the samples received for this article, I am a huge fan of wines from Mexico and you should be, too!
First, allow me to drop some knowledge on you, imparted to me by Max Murphy, owner of Tozi Imports.
Vineyards are not new to Mexico; they’ve been growing grapes since 1521. But the King of Spain put the hammer down in the early 1500s and banned the importation of all Mexican wines, to protect the Spanish wine industry. Whatever … that didn’t really stop the perseverent Mexicans. In fact, Casa Madero Winery (maker of delicious rosé and many other wines) was founded in 1597 and today is the 5th oldest continuously operating winery in the world!
So wine was being made – much of it sacramental, for church use – but the industry devolved over the years, with many wineries turning out cheap swill. And it didn’t help that in the early 1980s, Mexico began allowing importation of wines from the U.S., Europe, South American countries. This killed their own wine industry, and by 1985 most Mexican wineries shut down.
But like a phoenix from the ashes, in the mid 1980s, small boutique wineries began using modern techniques and paying attention to single varietals and making high-quality wines. One of the cool things about Mexican wines is the lack of of DOs and AOCs (denominations or origin and appellation of controlled origin), which are the geographical boundaries that come with various rules and restrictions on what you can and cannot grow, blend, vinify, etc. This means that there is room for wild creativity and it’s working! Let’s taste!
Vina Doña Dolores NV Brut Gran Reserva ($15) This sparkler is a cousin of a Spanish Cava, and part of the Freixenet Mexico family. It’s made from two of the three Cava grapes: 50% Macabeu and 50% Xarel-lo (there’s no Parellada) in the methode tradionelle, where the second fermentation happens in the bottle. We loved it! It’s fruit-forward, with a surge of guava, lemon and peach riding a wave of friendly fizziness. It would be amazing with egg dishes (I have huevos rancheros in mind), as well as spicy Thai foods, sushi, and more. This wine totally over-delivers for the peso.
Paso de Serra Previo 2016 ($20) This is a zippy little red blend of 70% Malbec, 20% Merlot and 10% Syrah that impressed everyone who tasted it (I was at my wine club with some pros). We all got pickled plums, roasted red fruits, dark chocolate, dried herbs and some spice. It’s bright and juicy, with an acidic backbone that would set it up for a big win with almost any kind of meat: barbecue, fajitas, grilled steak or anything with bacon. It was a huge crowd pleaser and got even more interesting after half an hour in the glass. Fun!
But Where Can You Get Them? Right? These wines can be hard to find, but there’s a solution! It’s called Urban Grape and they ship!
Headed to San Miguel de Allende? If you’re not, you should! The place is magical and the wine and food scene is fantastico. Here are some pics from my March 2020 trip!
I recommend Cuna di Tierra, a fabulous tasting room right in San Miguel de Allende. The winery itself is a ways out, in Dolores Hidalgo and you can go there, too, for tours and tastings, but we didn’t have time this trip, so the tasting room in town was an easy and fun experience. Also – Viñedos San Francisco (you need a car) is a fantastic destination, with a hotel on -site, surrounded by vineyards. Their wines are made with grapes from several vineyards they own, and the we loved the restaurant! The food and service – and the wines – they were all excellent. (I still have the bottle I bought here!) And if you’re looking to stock up in town, there’s a great wine shop called Cava Sautto. And if you see Casa Madero rosé (or their Chardonnay), just get it!
Still Thirsty? Check out Tozi Imports and look at their portfolio of Mexican wines.
But Wait … Yep, there’s more. I know this post is awfully fucking long, but well, there’s a lot to say! Our Wine Pairing Weekend – or WinePW – wine writing group all got samples from Max at Tozi Imports and we’re meeting up on Twitter on Saturday, April 9 at 10 a.m. CT for a chat. Join us! Just use #winepw and you’ll find us. Okay, that’s the end. Except: muchas graçias, Max, for the Zoom session and the samples!
- Wendy from a A Day in the Life on the Farm will share “Mexican Foods and Wines always provide for a Perfect Fiesta”
- Susannah from Avvinare is “Discovering Mexican Wine”
- Jen from Vino Travels is taking “A First Look at Mexican Wines Including Italian Grapes”
- Carlos from Carlos’ Food & Wine is serving up “Mexican wines featuring sparkling wine risotto & grilled hanger steak with mushroom-red wine sauce”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is sharing “Outside the Pigeon-Hole: Pairing Mexican Wine with Thai Cuisine”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator Gwendolyn Alley features “Sparkling Wine from Mexico For #TacoTuesday”
- Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles will share “Mexican Wines – 2 wines from the central Mexican highlands of Querétaro #WinePW”
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass is “Saying ‘hola’ to Mexican Tempranillo and sparkling wine”
- Martin from ENOFLZ Wine Blog will share “Exploring Mexican Wine Beyond Baja”
- Nicole from Somm’s Table is “Sipping Mexican Wines with a Bowl of Birria”
- Liz at What’s in that Bottle will post “Salud a Los Vinos de Mexico!”
- Terri from Our Good Life will pair “Grassfed Ribeye with Steak Butter and Grilled Oyster Mushrooms Paired with Monte Xanic Cabernet Sauvignon”
- David from Cooking Chat will pair “Roasted Beet Pesto Pasta with Mexican Merlot”