Italian wine-making in México since 1928.
México was the first producer of wine in the entire American continent when the Spaniards planted vines, cultivated grapes and made wine in their new colony. In fact the first commercial “new world” winery in the Americas was founded in 1597 in the Valle de Parras, México and it has continuously operated ever since then.
Let’s review a bit of history to get the obvious out of the way. Why Mexico’s wine industry never developed the way Argentina and Chile did? The simple explanation, according to historians, lies in México living and surviving its own Prohibition. Wine was an essential part of life for Spaniards conquistadores. The first wines made in the Americas was shortly after the conquest of Mexico in 1521 using wild vines. Wine was also an important part of Mass for the missionaries that came after Cortez. After all, there was a lot of work involved in converting infidels! Cortez, envisioned improving the wines of the colony planting varietals brought from Spain. By 1596 Mexico had improved its wines and had developed its own commercial wineries, threatening sales of Royal wines imported from Spain. That year King Philip II forbade new plantings and replacements effectively establishing prohibition in Mexico. This prohibition lasted 300 years, impacting demand, winemaking and wine-drinking ethos frankly.
Onto L.A. Cetto winery now and its own history. The origins of the winery date back to 1926 when Italian immigrant Don Angelo Cetto inspired by his European roots, established a wine-making business in 1926. Ironically, it was the Prohibition in the US which propelled the quality and quantity of wines made in Mexico, across the border from San Diego in the Valle de Guadalupe. By 1928, L.A. Cetto winery had started with familiar grapes to Don Angel such as Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Aglianico and other “local” varietals such as Mission which it was brought to the Americas by Spanish conquistadores centuries earlier. In 1967 additional plantings of international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Petite Sirah, signaled a turning point for wine-making in the Valle de Guadalupe.
This particular bottling of L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo wine is extremely food friendly, quite approachable and full of charm. Don’t expect a taste a northern Italy here. Instead look for an inky, chalky-smooth feel, even a bit of salt water and a delicious overlay of ripe cherry, blackberry and raspberry notes. Perfect for hard cheeses, bruschetta and light Mexican fare. This Nebbiolo is hard to find outside of Southern California and NY, but if you come close to it, give it try!