Querétaro for foodies
The wines produced in the central Mexican state of Querétaro have earned international recognition and are gradually winning over connoisseurs in other parts of the world.
Arid on the surface, if you look closer, the semi desert is teeming with life, staining the tree tops crimson and sealing the important moments with the clinking of a wine glass and a toast to good health. Cheers!
We are in Quéretaro, a central Mexican state with regions where the days are hot and the nights are cold, allowing the grapes to ripen without losing their acidity. Here, grapevines grow alongside aromatic Peruvian peppertrees, whose seeds are known as pink pepper.
El Marqués, Tequisquiapan, Ezequiel Montes, Colón and San Juan del Río are the municipalities of Querétaro where the pace of life is punctuated by wine and cheese. Here it doesn't matter so much if you don't make it on time, as long as you arrive with a good appetite and leave with a pleasant aftertaste lingering on your palate.
Of all the "New World" wines, Querétaro's have perhaps made the greatest impression beyond our borders, with Freixenet and La Redonda forming part of the Mexican delegation at Drink Outside the Box, an event held by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on March 4, 2014 at the Talleyrand Hotel, which belongs to the American embassy, in Paris, France.
Freixenet is one of the largest vineyards in the region. Housed in a rambling old Mexican hacienda with high ceilings, its most interesting feature has to be its cellars, an impressive 25 meters below ground level. If you're in any way curious, they're open to the general public.
Freixenet's star product is its sparkling wine, produced using the traditional or champenoise method, which consists of a second fermentation in the bottle. This winery also does a commendable job promoting wine culture by giving courses and organizing competitions. It has an annual calendar of activities but the date everyone circles in the calendar is the grape harvest in August.
In Tequisquiapan you'll find La Redonda, a boutique winery that produces three labels: Redonda, a collection of young whites, rosés, reds and sparkling wines, Orlandi, whose tannins are intensified by the American oak barrels they are matured in, and premium Sierra Gorda. These are aged wines that are best married with roasts of large game and strong cheeses.
Close to Freixenet, in Ezequiel Montes, is Viñedos Azteca, a winery that has taken it upon itself to propagate Mexican traditions, not just winegrowing but Mexican horsemanship too. Their wines are made the traditional way under the watchful eye of enologists José Antonio Llaquet and Jesús Cardoso. Pretexto is their most successful label, a coupage boasting a harmonious blend of red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah and Malbec.
This region also likes to keep up with the latest trends. For example, in 2011, Los Rosales in Tequisquiapan introduced Misiones Chapelet, a project for the production of quality organic red wines. Every aspect of the process is scrupulously overseen, producing wines that bring out the characteristics of their signature Tintorera grape, known for its strong, enduring notes.
The best way to learn about Querétaro's wines is to join a tour of the Wine and Cheese Route. We guarantee you'll be an expert by the end and will be able to testify to the fact that Mexican hospitality isn't just a myth.