Yes we all know and love Mexico for its famous spirits made from agave as well as its ubiquitous beers. Pass the lime and salt please! But don’t just stop there as Mexico has a burgeoning wine industry. I’ve had a few Mexican wines here and there while vacationing in Mexico. And living in Texas with lots of authentic Mexican as well as Mexican-inspired cuisine means we have access to a decent amount (whether in stores or at restaurants) but they are by no means prevalent. But the ones I’ve come across are worth exploring.
One such producer that I’ve been able to find and enjoy on a number occasions is Casa Madero. Located in the Valle de Parras in northern Mexico and founded in 1597, Casa Madero has the distinct honor as being the owner of the the oldest vineyards in the Americas. The vineyards were originally planted by the Spanish for both wine and brandy production. Many think of Mexico as being too hot for viticulture (I mean we can go to the beach in November there!) but many of the vineyards are planted at high altitude which means the vineyards are exposed to cooler temperatures. Casa Maduro’s vineyards are located at 5,000 ft altitude which makes it a suitable location for grape growing.
Wars, revolutions, production bans, and phylloxera have all have worked to stifle the growth of the industry, but recent years have seen upticks in production and quality alike. Like the U.S., there are no rules regarding what varieties must be planted in a given area so you’ll find a little bit of everything (Syrah, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, even Nebbiolo) as well as some unconventional blends. I recently had the pleasure of drinking two different Casa Madero wines that I picked up at Backstreet Cafe – a local restaurant here in Houston. One of the few bright spots in the whole Coronavirus pandemic is the ability to have access to, and purchase wine from the lists of some of my favorite restaurants. My wallet may not be as happy because I’ve been buying wine like a crazy lady! But it was at Backstreet’s sister restaurants Xochi and Caracol that I was first exposed to Casa Madero wine. And given that these restaurants specialize in Mexican cuisine, its a sure bet that the wines are a great match for the country’s cuisine.
2018 Casa Madero V Rosado
This one of crafted of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which you don’t see a lot of when making the pink stuff. A little heavier with less delicacy than we sometimes think of with a rosé, this one has quite the aromatic profile – strawberry, peach, apricot, honeydew, citrus, and honey. The palate offers up more juicy fruits laced with a touch of minerality and a hint of sweetness. While I got mine at Backstreet Cafe as mentioned above, this one can also be found at HEB and Total Wine in the local Houston market. We paired with shrimp tacos topped with a mango-avocado salsa.
2018 Casa Madero 3V Red Blend
The 3V is a blend of 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, and 33% Tempranillo. Graphite, herbs, green pepper, black plum preserves, and more on the nose. It is full of dense black fruit (black plum, black cherry) with more graphite, vanilla and cinnamon spice. Bold, smooth tannins help it to more than hold its own with some beef fajitas. In addition to Backstreet Cafe, this one is available in the local Houston market at HEB and Houston Wine Merchant.
If you’ve never had Mexican wine, I’d highly encourage you to a grab bottle or two when you come across it. And then go home and pair it some tasty Mexican food – or anything else for that matter. Cheers!