No one can resist a glittering flute of sparkling wine… And yet this type of wine is relatively rarely produced in Mexico, although excellent examples of traditional method sparkling wines can be found in the country. From Cava 57’s boutique line of “Mexican Cava” to the massive production of Freixenet, the state of Querétaro is undoubtedly the epicenter of Mexico’s sparkling wine production, but select producers in other regions are also bringing on the bubbles…
Querétaro: The Heart of It All
Big Bubbles in Querétaro: Freixenet and La Redonda
Perhaps the quintessential reason why Querétaro is currently Mexico’s biggest producer of sparkling wine boils down to one fact: Freixenet, a well-known Cava producer founded at the end of the 19th century in Spain, set up shop in Querétaro in the 1970s, marking the beginnings of the planting of Cava varietals and the production of sparkling wine in the state. It continues to be the largest producer of sparkling wine in the state today, with three separate lines of bubbles, Sala Vivé, Viña Doña Dolores and Petillant.
Located in the municipality of Ezequiel Montes, today it uses both the traditional Cava varietals Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada along with more unconventional grapes such as Chenin Blanc in the blends for its sparkling wines, and also has a few labels made with the traditional Champagne varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Its broad product range of over 10 different sparkling wine labels varies from brut nature to off-dry, and from easy-to-drink fruity wines to more complex examples. All of their sparkling wines are made using the traditional method.
The other massive wine producer in the state, La Redonda, also offers a variety of sparkling wines, despite being more focused on still wines than its competitor Freixenet. Its choice of grapes is less conventional, using blends from Chenin Blanc, Viura, Chardonnay or Trebbiano for its whites, and Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for its rosé. All of its sparkling wines except for its sweetest example (not for us) use the traditional method, and the range of sweetness varies from brut nature to off-dry and even medium sweet. The most noteworthy of its sparkling wines is its Orlandi Brut Nature, vinified via the traditional method from 100% Chardonnay grapes. Unlike its even more massive neighbor, La Redonda isn’t currently offering any sparkling wines with traditional Cava varietals, although it does own plantings of them.
From the Big to the Boutique
Leaving behind mass production and zeroing in on quality, smaller-scale boutique producers also exist in the state of Querétaro, drawing from its tradition of using Cava varietals and methods.
Cava 57 is without a doubt our top choice for sparkling wine in Querétaro and Mexico as a whole. While producing more than just sparkling wine, their Palomas line of Mexican “Cava” – made exclusively with the traditional method of second fermentation in the bottle from the historical Cava varietals of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada – is an excellent example of a high-quality sparkling wine suited to a broad range of tastes and pairings.
With three different residual sugar categories – Palomas Semi-Seco (off-dry), Palomas Brut and Palomas Brut Nature – and the acidity provided by the cool, high-altitude climate of San Juan del Río, Cava 57 is very likely Mexico’s best producer of sparkling wine. With elegant bubbles, refreshing crispness and marked minerality, all three of these sparkling wines are well worth a try.
Not far from Freixenet and La Redonda in Ezequiel Montes is Bodgeas De Cote, which despite not specializing in sparkling wine, offers the choice of its Atempo Brut Espumoso, a white sparkling wine made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc.
San Juanito in Ezequiel Montes also occasionally produces a sparkling rosé wine from Malbec and Syrah using the traditional method, which follows with this producer’s heavy use of Malbec grapes in its wines.
Sparkling Wine in Baja California
Not to burst its bubble, but Querétaro is not the only sparkling wine producing region in Mexico: some producers in Baja California are also taking a stab at it. Almost all of México’s big winemaking companies produce some form of it, and a limited number of smaller producers are also making sparkling wines of note.
Two of the big boys of the Baja – L.A. Cetto and Santo Tomás – both have their own sparkling wine. L.A. Cetto’s Champbrulé comes in at the lower end of the quality spectrum, and despite the “brut” on the label certainly feels off-dry on the palate, if not sweeter. It’s a cheap, easy, mass-produced sparkling wine option from the Valle de Guadalupe. On the other hand, Santo Tomás produces a traditional method sparkling wine from Chardonnay in batches that are quite small taking into account the overall size of this producer.
Moving beyond past the giants, there are a handful of small-scale producers in Baja California producing white and rosé sparkling wines, although none of these producers is exclusively focused on this style.
Casa de Piedra offers the broadest range of sparkling wines in the Valle de Guadalupe, with its Espuma de Piedra Blanc de Blancs made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, its Espuma de Piedra Blanc de Noirs made from Zinfandel and its Espuma de Piedra Rosado (rosé) made from Barbera. All three of these are traditional method and “brut” in their residual sugar level.
Roganto has a noteworthy dry sparkling rosé made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from some of the cooler regions of Baja California, including Ojos Negros and San Jacinto, along with grapes from the Valle de Guadalupe. It is strikingly mineral and retains a significant aspect of the herbaceousness of the grape that composes it.
Vena Cava also offers a sparkling rosé made from a combination of Barbera, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Last of all, Decantos is also apparently in the process of releasing a sparkling wine, but is still waiting for the second fermentation in bottle to complete.
So, while you might not have known, Mexico most certainly does produce a variety of sparkling wines. Add them to your list of wines to try – we would recommend starting with the three labels from Cava 57 in Querétaro and Roganto’s sparkling rosé from the Valle de Guadalupe… Did we miss any important or worthwhile sparkling wines? Leave us a comment so we can make this article even better!
By Raquel Boucher and Omar Torres
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.