The 31st edition of the utmost respected Concours Mondial de Bruxelles did wrap up a couple of weeks ago and the taste of Mexican wines lingers on the palate of the 350 tasters from around the globe who had the chance to, on top of the 7500 wines from all around the world, discover some of the best Mexican wines.

Mexico has multiple regions that grow different types of wine grapes and have different climates and soils that help make each wine unique. Baja California has the largest wine production in Mexico, followed by Coahuila, Queretaro, and Guanajuato, where the the most recent edition of the CMB took place. At the very begining of that wine competition, Manuel Negrete did welcome tasters with a very insightful presentation of the Mexican wine industry to show the enormous diversity of the Mexican terroir and the extraordinary potential of this booming sector. Besides his certification by the Mexican Sommeliers Association, he is one of only 8 Mexican ASI Diploma holders, in addition to being Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers: Americas. He is also the wine director at the CMB Wine Bar in Mexico City.

Map of Mexico

“I think the wine industry in Mexico is changing for a little bit more educated kind of consumer, says Manuel Negrete, because, when I started in this business 12 years ago, I was 20 years old and my, with my fellows, my friends didn’t have the interest into drinking a lot of wine. And nowadays I’ve seen the change. Now more young people are wanting to drink wine because you are looking as, let’s say, more fancy, more cool, if more sophisticated. Of course, beers and cocktails are a big part of the nightlife in Mexico, but the wine has this huge impact on the young people in the country. And it has developed the wine industry for the last 15 to 18 years. So there is this interest to grow a vineyard, to have a winery in order to have the boutique hotel, to have the restaurant to make a full experience and of course, having a long term business such as wine. 

Mexican Wines Key figures

Mexican Wines Key figures

“So it’s been developing and quite recently we have been changing from drinking a lot of cheap wine to drinking less wine, but better quality. But at the same time, more people are consuming wine. So nowadays there’s a lot of people here in Mexico that can afford to pay 30 or $40 for a bottle of wine. So if you have this amount of money, would you rather go for four bottles of $10 wine or one bottle of $40? So now the tendency is to go for a single or a couple of bottles of better quality. So that’s the idea mainly now in Mexico.”

Manuel Negrete

Manuel Negrete

A vast complex area to grow vines

As this map shows, it gives you a good idea of the extent of the Mexican territory and the possibilities of growing vines in such a huge country.

“So in every part of the central part of Mexico, explains Negrete, we are always nearly 2000m above sea level. So there’s a lot of, white wine that is developing really, really good, specially with Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin. And for the red wines, I think Malbec is positioning itself really, really good because think about the Argentinian wine, they grow it in the mountains also, they have a lot of sun exposure, the same in Mexico. And we have these extreme climate changes that, you know, shifts are very, very wide. The Malbec is mainly for the central part of Mexico and the north and northeastern part of Mexico. Syrah this year, it’s beautiful. And there has been for the last six years, a lot of projects in northeastern part of Mexico, mainly Coahuila, where they are developing such good Cabernet Francs, they are really, really nice. And in the northwestern part, Baja California, that its the main producing region, there you can find the best wines that are always made with Tempranillo, Grenache. I’m sure that you see the trends on red grapes that can endure a lot of heat because they have a lot of Cabernet, they have a lot of Merlot, but the best quality wines are always around, high temperature adapted, varieties.”  

Carlos Borboa

Carlos Borboa

Carlos Borboa, in charge or the CMB Mexico Selection and who was the one who made sure that everything was so great for this 21st edition of the CMB in Gunanajuato, wants to underline the youth of the Mexican wine road to success. “You have to understand that Mexico is a very new emerging country. In fact, we are the new world whereas the place where the first vines that came from Europe arrived in the Americas. And it’s important to remember that we have five centuries of history, but actually, contemporary Mexico is no more than 30 years old. And for real, it’s impressive to see how the Mexican wine industry has developed so fast. And what I see in the next 5 to 10 years is the golden age of Mexican wine, because right now we have enough production, enough regions, enough quality, enough people that can deliver a proper wine to all the consumers in the world.”

Guanajuato

The director for Latin America & North America of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, adds: “It’s a great pride to coordinate the organization of one of the most important wine competitions at an international level, here in Mexico. It’s a great achievement for Guanajuato and for all of Mexico, which also reaffirms the place they have today in the highest sphere of the wine world!“. Borboa thinks that as a relatively young industry in Mexico, “it’s a big laboratory. You have to remember that Mexico is the 15th largest country in the world. We have here a wide range of varieties that have all the potential. In Baja, for example, with the Mediterranean climate, we have incredible whites, incredible reds, so rounded, so, full-bodied, that is amazing. So it’s interesting to understand Mexico from each region, from each area. And right now all the producers are changing their mind for satisfying the customers to understand the road and follow the road.”

The CMB Wine Bar in Mexico City

Cherished by the CMB team, Carlos Barboa is also in charge of the little jewel of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, an incredibly good looking wine bar in Mexico City with up to 2000 visitors every month and almost one corporate event per day. The Wine Bar by CMB is a showcase for medal-winning wines and a means to convince consumers and opinion leaders of the competition’s excellence in an authentic tasting situation.“It’s interesting, says Borboa, because we opened before the pandemic, it was a huge challenge and right now, It’s like a Michelin starred restaurant, but they’re like, adapted to, to, a wine bar. You know, all the people from Old Mexico arrived there, asking for incredible wines, incredible food. And for us it is an embassy of the world where we can promote all day all the wines that are awarded in the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles.” Plus there is some great food served in this “embassy”. “We realize that we are a wine bar, adds Borboa, but also we are like a restaurant. So we have been partnering with one of the greatest chefs in Mexico that is called Daniel Nates. He’s the champion of the San Pellegrino Best Chef awards. He has been training with Massimo Bottura and he’s an impressive young boy from Mexico. He’s not even 30 years old.”

The CMB Wine bar in Mexico City

The CMB Wine bar in Mexico City

“And the next project is, of course, the wine corner, because we also want to also promote world wines, but in an international way and right now we have been doing that coordinated with United Airlines there at the Mexico City International Airport. And for the last two years, we have been developing another wine corner in Narita Airport in Japan. So we want to spread the project, we want to spread the concept and have experiences, you know, because at the very end, the competition runs almost full circle for the producer. And right now with the wine corner and with a wine bar, we have to close the circle and we can do the promotion, the awards, the communication, but also to do events and to sell the wine. So right now the producers are really happy because we are able to sell the wine, to promote the wine but also generate business.”

Wine corner United Mexico Airport

Wine corner United Mexico Airport

In the meantime, Carlos Borboa can say “Mission accomplished” for the 31st edition of the CMB. It was a total success and the best is yet to come for Mexican wines. He passed the torch to China a couple of weeks ago at the ened of the Concours. The largest wine region in China, Ningxia, has indeed been selected to host the 32nd edition of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. The Red and White Wines Session, the most important of the CMB, will take place in the city of Yinchuan in June 2025. This is the second time that the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is held in China. Hasta la vista !

CMB