Centered around the wine region of Valle de Guadalupe, some of the most talked-about Mexican wines today are vinos espumosos—from long-aged traditional-method wines styled after Champagne, to minimal-intervention pét-nats. The region’s lack of appellation-based rules means there’s broad experimentation in terms of grapes and styles. “Every other region specializes in something, and we don’t focus on anything,” laughs Fer Parra, a chemist turned winemaker who’s been making sparkling wine since 2018 and launched the Pouya label in 2020. “But for me, I love it because I couldn’t do what I want to do if we had AVAs and all these regulations.”
Mauricio Soler of Bodega Symmetria worked for Roederer Estate in California, as well as other wineries in Sonoma and Napa, before moving back to his native Baja California to make his first Mexican sparkling wine in 2015. At the time, there were only a few good-quality sparklers, such as Espuma de Piedra and a bubbles-only project called Tres Para Uno from three of the region’s top winemakers—Cristina Pino (Bodegas de Santo Tomás), Daniel Lonnberg (Adobe Guadalupe) and Sergio Heras (Château Camou).
“It’s not like coming from Carneros and Mendocino where there is so much information,” says Soler. “We had to search for vineyards, regions, trying many bases to see which one worked.”
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The region’s warm Mediterranean climate might not seem conducive to great sparkling wine, but a cooling maritime influence and wide variety of microclimates, plus a vast diversity of planted varieties, has spelled success.
“In good years, we get the right amount of winter rain, and consistent temperature in the growth period, so our budding and maturation are even,” says Soler. “Making sparkling wines in a warm climate is different from a cold climate, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It’s just an adaptation to how you do every stage of the process.” Many of the region’s top wineries are moving into sparkling for the first time. One of the most anticipated is from winemaker Lulú Martínez Ojeda of Bruma, who has built a new facility just for traditional-method sparkling wine.
“It’s competition, but in a good way because it’s not just a few of us going around trying to interest people in good-quality Mexican sparkling wine,” says Parra. “We’re a community, and now we’re part of the conversation.”
This article originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!