Vinisterra Domino Blanco 2015
As Guillermo became more focused with the process of creating premium wine he met a passionate Swiss enologist, Christoph Gartner, who was then working at Bodegas Santo Tomas winery. Both men were in agreement that Mexico could produce high quality wine.
After six years of friendship and in-depth conversations, Guillermo and Christoph formed a business partnership in 2002 with the goal of creating premium wines crafted from grapes grown in the region. Today, Vinisterra winery has the ability to produce 7,000 cases of premium wine from their “estate” vineyards and from selection vines in the region.
The Americas’ oldest wine producing country, Mexico began to produce wine grapes just one year after the arrival of the Spanish in 1520. In the next decade, King Carlos V of Spain ordered that every ship headed to the New World carry vines for cultivation. Over time viticulture spread northwards through the missions into today’s state of California but since then Mexican viticulture and winemaking has faced many challenges. Today the country is experiencing a rebirth with renewed interest in its potential. While there are seven wine producing states in Mexico, the Mediterranean climate of Baja California makes it Mexico’s most important. Most of the state of California’s principal varieties grow here with great success.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. While most would agree it reigns supreme when from its birthplace of the Loire Valley, Chenin is the most planted variety in South Africa. California’s Clarksburg appellation is also winning more notoriety for its Chenin.
In the Glass
Chenin's drier versions commonly have characteristics of passion fruit, lemon, quince, green apple, saffron and chamomile while sweeter version express aromas and flavors such as yellow pear, white peach, persimmon, melon, ginger and honeysuckle. When aged in oak, qualities like meringue and brioche can be found. Sparkling versions often have yellow apple, ginger and floral notes.
Cool-climate Chenin blanc has the chalky acidity to work with light seafood such as oysters and shellfish. Off-dry styles work well with the sweet-and-sour nature of Thai and Vietnamese food. The sparkling versions such as Saumur Mousseux, Vouvray Petillant and Crémant de Loire make amazing aperitif options that won’t bruise the pocketbook.
South Africa actually has double the amount of Chenin blanc planted compared to France. It is believed that either the Dutch navigator, Jan van Riebeeck, brought the grape to Cape Town in 1655 or the Huguenots fleeing France brought it in 1685. Either way, the South Africans have favored it for many centuries and make it in almost every style. Today a new wave of dedicated producers has committed to restoring old Chenin vines and finding the most ideal new spots for this prized variety.