Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A good experience with Mexican wines

North of the Baja peninsula seems to be the best region for wines. That's why I would recommend a trip, at least a week long, over to the Ensenada area. There are four valleys -- Guadalupe, Calafia, San Vicente and Santo Tomas -- that stand out, producing some 90 percent of the country's grapes. In early August, they hold the Grape HarvestFestival.

Other wine states are Coahuila, Durango (land of Pancho Villa), Sonora, Zacatecas, Queretaro and Aguascalientes. Notice there is no wine in the tequila states of Jalisco, Guanajuato or Tamaulipas. Nor in the southern state of Oaxaca, where mezcal is king.

For a great time, visit Tequisquiapan, Queretaro, in May for the Paella Festival, where you can try some good cheese and better wines from Mexico and abroad. Then, in August, there is the Wine Harvest Festival, when you can stomp on grapes with your bare feet and visit the huge subterranean caves, as well as eat, drink and be merry. Queretaro, by the way, is a fantastic, well-preserved historical colonial city, and the central square and surrounding areas are a marvel.

Having eaten in so many restaurants, it's difficult to pick just one favorite, but I must say that Queso, pan y vino, where they serve fantabulous cheeses and wines, in Mexico City, near the Siqueiros Poliforo on Insurgentes, is a special one, and the servings are to die for.
Some brands that you should be looking for are Calixa, Monte Xanic, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Camou, Pedro Domecq, L.A. Cetto, Santo Tomas and Casa Madero. They include whites and reds, and prices range from as cheap as $5 to more than $30.

There also is a new concept out there called ice wine, made with grapes harvested during the winter months. Yes, the grapes are frozen. This is seen in Canada, Germany and Chile. No, I haven't tried that one yet.

Champagne, or Cavas Freixenet from Catalunya, Spain, has established a branch in Queretaro, in mid-Mexico. This is not a bad bubbly. You can buy the one made in Spain, or the one from Mexico. I have tasted little difference, as they are related. They follow the same techniques and use the grapes brought over from the old country in 1982.

Source: Oakland Tribune

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