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Mexican Wines?

A friend/wine lover recently spent a week in Cancun and came back raving about a Mexican wine he drank (at the hotel restaurant where he was staying, the wine came commended by the waiter, maybe not on the regular wine list.) He believes it may have been a pinot noir. He is now trying to find out exactly what it was that so impressed him...but in the meantime I thought I'd help out:
So, are any Mexican wines available for purchase in U.S. and where?
Any information you have would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. I would appreciate any posts on this as well. I have always enjoyed wine from a couple of the old wineries when visiting baja, but last week was blown away with some of the more boutique offerings from the Valle de Guadalupe. Upon returning home I have made a couple of queries locally figuring San Diego is so close to Baja that someone would have a decent selection. The only ones that I could turn up was one Cetto petite syrah and some basics from Santo Thomas, and was told the red tape in getting wine across the border for distribution has made it next to impossible. Any thoughts?

    1. The only wine that I know for sure still exports to California is LA Cetto's Nebbiolo Reserve. I think LA Cetto may also export some of their lower-end wines as well, I've not checked into that. I think Casa de Piedra exports some wine to New York state only.

      Santo Tomas, Chateau Camou/Flor de Guadalupe, and Monte Xanic/Calixa exported some wine in recent years, but as far as I can tell do not anymore. Some of their wines may still be available at certain stores from when they did export, though.

      I heard a rumor that Valmar may be exporting some wine but I haven't followed up yet.

      Other than that, I know of no wine exported to the US. There are lots of great wineries only 90 minutes away from us in San Diego and yet we can't legally buy their wine in town. I know folks on both sides of the border would like to change that but it seems very difficult to solve.

      I'm guessing your friend drank one of the many very good wines from Baja (or elsewhere in Mexico) that are not available in the US.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jayporter

        Thanks Jay. Are you aware if any of them are able to ship direct to non-retail customers? I can't imagine that all those bus loads of people on wine tours during harvest are only able to bring one bottle per person back through the border...then again with currant administration policies I should say that nothing should surprise me. By the way - good luck on the move.

        1. re: foodiechick

          Thanks...we'll take all the luck we can get :-).

          I believe that the Mexican wineries *cannot* ship direct to the US.

          However there is something called the "common carrier" law which allows US citizens to take back multiple cases of wine (I think up to 4 or 5) if they cross the border on a "common carrier" such as a commercial airplane, cruise ship, or passenger bus. I remember when I came back from Australia we could take back lots of wine, for instance.

          However, I'm told this law does not apply to charter buses which are not techincally "common carrier"s.

          So, I believe most of those folks at vendimia are only legally allowed to bring back one bottle per person, though I'm sure some folks skirt the law. And also the people on the cruise ships can legally bring back more, as can people who make a point to take a non-charter bus.

          Disclaimer: I am a fan of Baja wine but not a customs attorney. I may just be making stuff up. Proceed at your own risk. Gracias.

      2. The San Antonio Winery downtown has some L.A. Cetto.A few select Mexican restaurants around town might have a Monte Xanic or a Chateau Camou, like Tlapazola Grill or La Serenata de Garibaldi.

        My favorites like Cavas Valmar, Tres Mujeres, Vinisterra, Casa de Piedra, Vinas Piojan, Tres Valles, Dona Lupe,Mogor Badan, and Californios and their Roganto. I don't know about you, but I am enjoying them in Baja.They will eventually get here but I'm going down as often as possible and slowly compiling an arsenal in my wine refrigerator. I bring 'em to my favorite Mexican restaurants around town

        1. Maybe it was Pedro Domecq's XA cabernet sauvignon. It's inexpensive but generally quite smooth and delicious.

          Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: cristina

            Cristina

            You can also go to vinoteca.com and montexanic.com.mx for more information.

          2. To All

            Hi ya, I do not blog here much but I am an American who lives in Cancun, since 1991, and I am the largest wine distributor for fine wine from around the world here. That being said since I do not distribute all of the Mexican brands I will be as unbiased as possible and let you figure out what I do distribute.

            First of all the three biggest wineries........
            Domecq - Baja California - Owned by Pernod - Ricard, - Average quality wines in the 6 to 8 dollar price range in Walmart here. They have a tendency to be acidic and out of balance. Strong rumor has it that a lot of their juice comes from Chile and I believe it probably to be true.

            L.A. Cetto - Baja California - Family Owned - Same comments as Domecq.

            Santo Tomas - Baja California - Better than Domecq or Cetto but at about twice the price so price quality well........not there. Since Hugo Lacosta left there as the winemaker the price has gone up 40% and the quality is down. Their top wine Unico has gone up to $50 wholesale and many hotels and restaurants have eliminated it off of their lists.

            Next in line Casa Madero - Parras, Mexico - Family owned - about 1 and a half hours west of Monterrey, Mexico. Now producing very good quality wine. This is the oldest winery in the Americas.....been rolling since 1597. I am impressed by the cleaner more balanced taste than wines coming out of Baja. Baja in the last three years has had problems with drought and it effects the taste of the wine. They get a real mineral taste, salty, because when they do not get enough rain they irrigate more and even the water from the wells has a lot of salt. The salt that is in the soil and irragation water for some strange reason shows up in the grapes hence in the wine. Valley de Guadalupe being very close to the Pacfic has a lot of salt in the soil from millions of years of the winds blowing in from the ocean, Los osos area just over another ridge of hills beyond does not have as big a problem. All in all all of the wine makers are learning more and more about how the soil effects wines during a drought.
            A little off track and now back to Madero
            They have three main labels they sell under.
            Montivina red and white. Good bang for the buck. About 5.50 in Walmart

            Casa Madero - Cab, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Semillion, Riesling, - The 2006 Chardonnay won an honerable mention at Vin Italy last year. Shiraz is good and the Merlot Excellent. About 15.00 dollar cost. 30-45 in Hotels and Restaurants.

            Casa Grande - Cabernet, Chardonnay, Shiraz All three top notch wines. Also last year the 2006 Casa Grande Chardonnay won best of show at Vin Italy for all Chardonnays from around the world. They do not have any left as you can imagine. Cost is about $25 Retail and from 50-70 in Restaurants and hotels.

            Abobe made by Hugo Lacosta. Baja California - If I am not mistaken owned by Americans. Hugo consults and makes thes wines. Very good but a little spendy. Again they have increased their price by about 20-25% in the last year and run abour 32-38 retail and 75-90 in Restaurants. They make several varieties but I am not up to speed on them.

            MariaTinto / Baja California - Four owners the principle being Humberto Falcon the director of Sales for Vinoteca out of Monterrey, a wine importer and distributor the biggest and best in Mexico. Excellent bang for the buck. A blend of Tempranillio, Barbara, Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. Long finish and well balanced. Retail at about 25-30 and 60-75 in restaurants. Only 1500 to 2000 cases produced annualy.

            If my typing gets a little rough here it is getting late so bare with me.

            Monte Xanic - The premier winery in Valle de Guadalupe, Family owned - This winery statred in 1987 has been the lime light of the Valle for many years however their red wine quality has suffered from the drought. They are now just finishing a new well system over the hill to the North East and will be irrigating with water that will be pumped for five yes five miles away......what a project. They are also build a new state of the art winery on the property and will be building a 40 small luxury hotel on propery as well.
            Their white wines especially the Chenin Colombard and Chardonnay are very good. 10-20 dollars retail. Their reds are around 26 dollars retail. Their top wine Gran Ricardo is exceptional and runs about 55 retail.

            Ok thats enough for tonight........when I blog again which will be soon I will finish up with Chateau Camou, La llave, Cru Garage, Enzio, Casa de Pierdra, Rivero Gonzalez,
            Malagon and Licega wineries. All of which need to be noted about. For those of you who read anything by James Suckling of the Wine Spectator you will be pleased to see that in the last two or three months he has been writting about Mexican wineries, three articles I believe.
            Last but not least it is no harder for importers in the US to import from Mexico than anywhere else but the boutique wineries of Mexico do not have enough for the US or the ones that do are too commercial and would not be excepted by the deserning palates in the US... Casa Madero does export some to the US and I will find out where. Monte Xanic used to and will again in the near future. And for those of you in or going to Las Vegas Areole Restaurant has a short selection of Boutique Mexican wines there. Wineman out..........like a light.

            11 Replies
            1. re: wineman3

              Wineman, I hope you slept well last night after writing such a wonderful post. I'll be checking here in Morelia, Michoacán, for the Madero wines you mentioned. When I find them (and I'm sure I will, based on your excellent information), I'll post back here with the Mexican prices. Sometimes national wines are more expensive IN the country of origin than they are in the USA.

              Thanks again for your highly informative post!

              Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

              1. re: cristina

                Cristina,

                The prices I mentioned are in usd in Mexico so as not to confuse the Americans reading at home.........Vinoteca there carries several of the brands I mentioned including Casa Madero.

                1. re: wineman3

                  I found the Casa Madero cabernet at Superama (high-end Wal-Mart) for 196 pesos. I haven't made it to the regular Wal-Mart yet, but I'll report back when I get there.

                  Unfortunately we have no Vinoteca here in Morelia--at least not that I know of. We have La Divina, which has a rotten selection of everything!

                  Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                  1. re: cristina

                    Cristina, FYI, if you're interested check out Las Mirasoles. They have a special wine room towards the back of the house (probably seats 20-25). When I was there with Ricardo in Nov. 2005 they had a fairly extensive selection of Mexican wines including a number of very, very boutique wines out of Baja. We did a quick tasting of some of them before comida.

                    Our table had Ricardo order the wines and he certainly didn't let us down :-). The menu was traditional Purepecha and the Baja white he selected was an outstanding match for the first couple of courses. In fact, I thought it was one of the best whites I'd tasted in years because it was unique and very clean tasting. Very different from the typical California, New Zealand, Australian, etc., whites we get here NOB. I, of course, don't remember exactly what it was, though I now strongly suspect it was probably a Mogor-Badan.

                    We had two bottles of wine with that comida, one white and one red, and our wine bill was about $135 USD for the two (and worth every peso, I might add). Mexican wine in Mexico is expensive by both US and Mexican standards <sigh>. If you need a bottle of Baja wine for a special occasion I wonder if Las Mirasoles wouldn't sell it to you. Or, if you just want to try them, go have comida there. One of the sons is a very well trained and knowledgeable sommlier.

                    I found a good selection of Mexican wines at H*E*B in Monterrey (not that that helps you ;->) and I would also suggest investigating your Costco there in Morelia.

                    1. re: cristina

                      Cristina,
                      Following find the address and phone number for Vinoteca in Morelia................happy tipping and sipping.
                      MORELIA
                      Juan De Silva # 79
                      Col Félix Ireta
                      Morelia, Michoacán CP58070
                      T (443) 313 5305

                2. re: wineman3

                  Great report, wineman3. Your local knowledge of Cancun and your wine industry knowledge are very welcome here - don't be a stranger!
                  P.S. Sorry I could not make it to your wine tasting: I got way over-committed with wedding functions, but gracias otra vez for your kind invitation.
                  Veggo

                  1. re: wineman3

                    Thanks wineman for all the information and perspective. It's good to hear more about the non-Baja California wines, a few of which I've had but haven't heard much details about.

                    To your notes on the Baja California wines, I would add for consideration Acrata, Paralelo, Mogor Badan, Pijoan, Tinto de Valle (if I remember the name right), JC Bravo, and Baron Balche, wines from all of which I have very much enjoyed. There are others, too, whose names escape me right now.

                    1. re: wineman3

                      Great thanks, wineman3.
                      I've always wanted to try more Mexican wines.
                      Thanks again for your wonderful info.

                      1. re: wineman3

                        Great insight and thank you. I enjoy reading about this stuff before I experience it.

                        Jordan

                        1. re: wineman3

                          Wineman 3, you are a total gift!! Could you give me some advice about the wine list at the St Regis in Punta Mita? My daughter is getting married there in Nov 2014, and I would like to use Mexican wines if I can find good quality and price. also, what about Mexican sparkling wines--are there any that are good?

                          1. re: winematters

                            Unfortunately, wineman3 hasn't posted for 3 years.