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Desea el vino mexicano vivo!

Wine1 Longlive Mexican wine!

Tomost Gringos, Cinco de Mayo is a perfectly decent reason to party—enjoy a neonblue margarita at the local Don Pablo’s and whoop it up … and the perfect timeon the calendar nestled between St. Paddy’s day and Memorial Day for a longevening and even longer next morning.

Cinco de Mayo or theFifth of May commemorates the 1862 victory by Mexican forces over Frenchsoldiers.  The battle known as The Battle of Puebla took place on May5th.  It is a day marked by many Mexicans and those with Mexican ties asan important cultural event.

Margaritasnotwithstanding, any reason to celebrate is a reason to hoist a glass of vinoand wine in Mexico has a long history that is starting to re-emerge.

Or,in the words of the rock band the Fountains of Wayne, I think I’ll have anotherglass of “Mexican Wine.”

Iused to fly for United Airlines
Then I got fired for reading High Times
My license expired in almost no time
Now I’m retired and I think that’s fine

Because the sun still shines in the summer time
I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine
I tried to change, but I changed my mind
Think I’ll have another glass of Mexican wine

Mexicanwine, at least as an industry, is enjoying nice growth, despite the fact thatnative Mexicans are largely categorized as being ambivalent about the drink.

And,also important to note that the majority of Mexican wine is made above the 30thparallel where the growing conditions are more hospitable. This area is in Baja California, and most ofthe wine-growing region is in and around the Ensenada area.

WineX magazine has a piece that you can find here, writer Tina Caputo encapsulatesthe geography nicely when she says,

The heart ofthe Mexican wine country lies near Ensenada on the Baja Peninsula, about 75milesMexican_wine_2 south of San Diego. Baja is divided into three winegrowing regions: SanAntonio de las Minas, San Vincente Valley and Santo Tomas Valley. San Antoniode las Minas is home to the Valley of Guadalupe, Mexico’s most important wineregion.

Baja’s climate andsoil have been compared to those of Napa and France’s Rhone Valley. The climateis Mediterranean, with rainy winters, followed by dry springs and summers.

Ensenadais a place near and dear to my heart because I got very socially adjusted thereon the way south through Baja California with a San Franciscan bi-sexual guythat also had dual citizen-ship in the States and Israel and was independentlywealthy, under the guise of being an Art dealer and a young Austrian woman thatlooked like Natalie Portman—this all while take a hippy-dippy very memorabletrip on the California icon, the Green Tortoise, years ago.

Thereturn trip through Ensenada on the Tortoise included another alcohol soakedcouple of hours capped off with a visit to their public baths, but Idigress.

Inan article from the San Francisco Chronicle a year ago, writer George Lucas hasa nice first-person narrative of his accidental trip to Mexico winecountry. You can find the completearticle here:

Thevalley is the site of the last of the Spanish missions to be built, Misión deNuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Norte, founded in 1834 by Dominican priests. In1903, 50 Russian immigrants arrived with top-quality grape cuttings fromEurope; some of their vineyards are still around. Bibayoff is theMexican_wine_3 mostaccessible old Russian winery.

Mexican_wine_4Sittingat an elevation of 1,000 feet just 13 miles from the coast, the valley benefitsfrom an oceanic condition known as "upwelling." Summer daytimetemperatures can reach 100 degrees, but every evening moist marine air comesflooding in to cool things off.

Allmanner of grapes thrive here: big, sun-loving reds, including CabernetSauvignon, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Malbec and Zinfandel, as well as a wide range ofwhites, from Chardonnay and Viognier to Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. The areaproduces more than 80 varietals and accounts for more than 90 percent ofMexico’s wine production.

Thewinery L.A. Cetto, is Mexico’s largest winery and a quality producer. An Internet search turned up numerousfavorable reviews for their reds, in particular. This kind of typifies it, and the site can be found here.

We cannot speak too highly ofL.A. Cetto wines, as verified by wine writers Joanna Simon, Oz Clarke, PaulLevy and many others. The winery has just celebrated its 75th Anniversary andis now, more than ever, producing wines of top international quality atdifferent price points. Cetto wines have been snatching medals at winechallenges all over the world for the past couple of decades. Most recently the2002 Petite Sirah was highly recommended at the London International WineChallenge 2004. The 1996 Nebbiolo won a silver medal at the LondonInternational Wine Challenge 2003 and the 1999 won a gold medal at Vinitaly2004 competing against some of the top Barolo’s in Italy!

Though my trip through Ensenadayears back hewed more closely to the tequila and cerveza mode of operation,I’ve got a couple of more years of refinement under my belt. And, while I’ll probably have a hard timefinding a bottle of the Mexican good stuff in time for today, I’ll certainly beheading south through Tijauna next time I’m in San Diego.  You should consider the same.

 HappyCinco de May and Viva Mexico!



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