Friday, June 21, 2024

Catando México reveals emerging Baja California, Guanajuato winemakers

A more than 300-meter red carpet took over downtown Guanajuato as attendees of the Catando México wine festival got a chance to meander past the city’s biggest landmarks and sample the fare of nearly 50 vineyards from all across the nation.

The annual Mexican wine festival in late November featured not only fine vintages but also food, music and crafts, all adding to attendees’ enjoyment as they walked along the extensive carpet laid down on the cobblestone streets and discovered Mexico’s latest and greatest offerings for wine lovers.

Participating wine producers came from all over Mexico, including Baja California, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Nayarit, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, Puebla and Guanajuato. Scheduled tastings led by sommeliers and other activities also added to the enjoyment.

While the event was held in the state of Guanajuato, the majority of the wines at the event hailed from Baja California, particularly Ensenada, featuring both newer wineries and those with a long history in the northern state. Bottles from Casa Zamora, Casa Maciel and Casa Emiliana were surprise standouts among the offerings.

But despite Baja California’s dominance, the state of Guanajuato had a definite presence at the competition too, proving that its wine industry has become a serious contender for national prizes.

Catando Mexico festival
Not only vineyards from across Mexico but also several gourmet food makers participated in the event.

Guanajuato wineries such as Tres Raíces — an ultramodern winery and part of a wave of newer wine producers in Mexico — as well as Viñedos San Bernardino, Bodegas La Vista and Dos Buhos all took part. Also, one of the country’s few female-owned wineries, Vinicola Renacimiento of Aguascalientes, caught my attention with its excellent nebbiolo and malbec.

However, perhaps one of the biggest surprises came from Bodega Gravitas’ high-quality vintage, as Jalisco is not particularly known for its wines. But winemaker Alberto Flores learned his craft in Germany and selected clones of French pinot noir grapes when he began his project in Chapala.

A decade later, Gravitas is producing six varietals – two whites, two reds, and two rosés – of which their pinot noir rosé and pinot noir red are real standouts.

The event was relaxing and fun despite as many as 4,000 people circulating throughout. Admission was free, although one could buy a wine-tasting package giving full access.

The one ticket allowed attendees to sample wine from every one of the event’s participating vineyards. Tastings were accompanied by chocolate, cheese and charcuterie.

Silver place settings and Cuban cigars added to the luxurious feel of the event. There was also handmade clothing on sale to guests at special prices.

Catando Mexico festival
Visitors sampled wine at a leisurely pace as they strolled through Guanajuato’s downtown.

While people wandered along the Guanajuato city streets, live mariachi music played and roving musical groups led visitors around the downtown. Catrinas and other fantastical characters added yet more color and vibrancy to the seductive blend of scents and sounds.

All in all, Catando México was an incredible way to spend a couple of days. Each year, it improves the breadth and quality of its offerings, and you would do well to keep an eye out for when next fall’s 11th edition arrives.

Sommelier Diana Serratos writes from Mexico City.

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