Home Feature Come to San Miguel and taste the authentic natural wine

Come to San Miguel and taste the authentic natural wine

by sanmigueltimes
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The undeniable charm of this town is obvious at first glance: multicolored homes stacked neatly into soft mountain ranges, alleyways kissed with bougainvillea vines, daily firework displays, and feathered dancers who drum to the heavens outside the pastel-pink chapel at the center of it all.

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, MEXICO (TWP) — Less apparent is what is happening in the surrounding soil, a natural wine scene quietly taking root in the heart of the Mexican highlands. Of Mexico’s 14 distinct wine regions, the Pacific Coast-hugging Valle de Guadalupe accounts for the vast majority of the country’s wine production. Its proximity to California’s Napa Valley and prolific winemaking output boosts the section of Baja California to the top of numerous travel guides.

But in the central states of Querétaro and Guanajuato, where San Miguel de Allende is located, charismatic winemakers who observe few rules are making a case that they deserve equal attention from oenophiles.

“Ensenada is Disneyland now, and I don’t care who hears me say that,” says Marcelo Castro Vera, a pioneer in Mexico’s natural wine movement who is based in San Miguel de Allende.

Elías García Viadas, a chef and certified sommelier who recently worked at the Los Arcángeles vineyard in Guanajuato, echoes the sentiment. “In the Mexican wine world, Baja wines are becoming a cliche, similar to mezcals from Oaxaca,” he said.

North of the border, a thirst for Mexican wine is growing. Searches in the United States for “Mexican wine” in Google’s travel category have topped “Mexican tequila” and “Mexican mezcal” at several points over the past 12 months. From 2015 to 2016, U.S. imports of Mexican table wine grew 48 percent, according to a MarketWatch report.

Photos: TWP

Several local wine experts told me they refer to the central Bajío region as Mexico’s unofficial “capital” of natural wine, a category without universal definition. Prizing organic or biodynamic farming and spontaneous fermentation, natural winemaking typically features little to no intervention. Traditional filtration and added sulfites — used to correct acidity, color or flavor and halt further changes after bottling — are also generally eschewed.

To fully immerse myself in this dreamland of tart, kombucha-like grip and cloudy sediment, I went directly to vintners, sommeliers and enologists around San Miguel de Allende to find out their favorite places to drink.

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