As I descended into the cellar of San Juanito Vineyard in Queretaro, Mexico, a swath of sunshine that followed me down illuminated a handful of the 266 oak barrels they have that are aging wine. At the bottom, dim red lighting from the edges of the ceiling are blanketing the room with a warm glow. The barrels are cradled individually just above the floor below a Catalan-style brick ceiling, which is typical for this region.
It’s cool down here, but it’s heading for the lower 80s outside on this October day. The owners have a special treat for me. Toño Treviño (Antonio Junior), who initiated the idea of a vineyard, stands with his father, Antonio Senior, and is syphoning wine from the top of a barrel. It was their Malbec Special Reserve, which is a blend of 89% Malbec and 11% Syrah aged 24 months on French and American.
The second wine to be syphoned is equally as delicious. It’s a Tempranillo called Tinta de Bernal and is last year’s vintage. It is strong and full bodied with a bold rich flavor. Antonio explains it’s the soil content, geographic location and weather that makes for an excellent wine. This particular vineyard is 1,930 meters above sea level and is in about the southern-most region in the northern hemisphere that can support these types of grapes.
In the distance you can see Peña de Bernal, which is a 433-meter-tall monolith, one of the tallest in the world. It’s used in the San Juanito logo that appears on their labels.
Their wines include a 2014 Syrah-Malbec, which is 75% Syrah and 25% Malbec aged 13 months in new French and American Oak. It pairs well with aged cheeses, tomato based sauces with pasta, marbling beef, creamy sauces and traditional Mexican dish of chiles en nogada.
They also have a 2016 Rosado, which is a rosé made of 100% Malbec grapes. It pairs well with fish and seafood such as ceviche, sushi, sashimi, paella and also with light cheeses and creamy and sweet desserts.
San Juanito’s Malbec is a blend of 95% Malbec and 5% Syrah. It is a 2014 vintage that complements hard and aged cheeses, marbling beef, duck, lamb, specialty baked dishes with heavy sauces.
The 2015 Espuma del Valle de Bernal is a sparkling wine blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Syrah. It is produced though the traditional champenoise process where the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle, creating bubbles. It is perfect for just about any meal, either at the beginning or to be paired with dessert.
Their 2017 Amanecer is 100% Malbec and pairs well with all cheeses, lean cuts of meat: beef, lamb, duck, dishes in heavy sauces based with mushrooms and chocolate based desserts.
Vinos San Juanito is without a doubt a brandname that needs to be recognized. I will be back with some of my wine-lover friends for the 100 Vinos Mexicanos Festival in March.
The price for a tasting and tour is 280 pesos or about $14 U.S. It includes three samples. They also can hand make you a pizza in their clay-covered fire pit. I can attest, the wine and pizza are wonderful and the experience is unbeatable.
Aleida Elwell is a wine lover who created TheTravelingWineChica.com as a medium to share her wine and traveling experiences. Her passion is discovering high-quality wines in regions not normally available to consumers in the United States and create wine tours to take wine lovers to enjoy the same experience. She has lived and studied in Mexico, Canada and the United States. She speaks Spanish and English and holds master’s degrees in Marketing and Art.