Friday, November 14, 2008

The Grand Old Man of Mexican Wines -- Casa Madero

In 1575, the Spanish Crown appointed governor of then-to-be state of Coahuila, and the founder of San Luis Potosi, his Excellency, the estimable Francisco de Urdinola. The good governor founded the first winery in the Parras (“grapevines”) Valley, and produced the first commercial wine in the Western Hemisphere. Although not Mr. Popular among the local indigenous population, we can raise a glass to ol’ Francisco for getting the ball rolling in Mexico.

Shortly thereafter, in 1597, Felipe II of Spain deeded a land grant to Don Lorenzo Garcia who founded the Hacienda de San Lorenzo. In the late 19th century, Don Evaristo Madero Elizondo bought the wine production of the Hacienda from its then French owners, and Casa Madero, the oldest surviving winery in the New World, was born. Today, Jose Milmo, the great, great grandson of Don Evaristo, continues the tradition. Happily, the hacienda and wine cellar structure have been preserved in their original beautiful condition.

The Parras Valley, (reputed to be one of the hideouts of Poncho Villa) sits at an elevation of about 5000 ft., and has the ideal climate for grape cultivation. Quite arid, with cool nights, and warm days, its mountain spring water creates an oasis for man and vine. Primarily red wine country, with low rainfall (only about 11in.annually, and only in the harvest months of June, July, and August), superb Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot are produced, and in the right hands, and with careful handling, delicate, delicious whites such as Chenin blanc, Chardonnay, and Semillon can wet your whistle nicely.

Continues here:

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