A Frugal Grape Nut’s Guide to Cozumel
I appreciate a good vintage — especially if we come across hidden treasure bargains. But once we settled permanently on Cozumel, the copious flow of the good-quality, inexpensive-to-moderately-priced stuff to which we’d become accustomed in the states dried up like an LA drainage ditch in August.
The following article lays out what I discovered. I hope it will help other wine-lovers visiting Cozumel to fulfill their guzzling dreams at an at least somewhat affordable price. And if you find out anything good, please email us so we can add the info to this article!
Yucatan’s, traditionally, have never been big wine drinkers. Beer, rum and tequila have long been readily available at affordable prices. Unlike wine which for many years was very expensive to ship from one of the few good vineyards on the west coast of Mexico and also expensive to import from international sources.
Cozumel had the additional supply problem faced by all islands—more expensive to get it here from the mainland. And, for many years, there just wasn’t enough local demand to make this economically feasible without charging high prices.
In recent years, however, local demand has increased markedly. This was certainly due in part to the steady influx of well-heeled nationals moving in from sophisticated cities like Guadalajara and Mexico City. And, of course, there are also a growing number of foreign ex-pats who now choose to make Cozumel their home on a full or part-time basis.
As of this writing, there is a vastly greater selection of wine available locally than there was even five years ago. Prices are still higher than you will be accustomed to paying in the US – particularly if you’re on the west coast. But you can find some excellent choices in the moderate ($6-12) price range as well as plenty of the high price spread for those special occasions. Right label for Errazuriz Reserva, a reliable, mid-priced Chilean wine to watch for at the stores here.
Click Here for a breakdown of what’s available locally with a few recommendations to get you started with your own shopping.
Cozumel Wine Shopping Guide
Below is an overview of wine you can expect to find on Cozumel. Some are always or usually available at the supermarkets. Others you’ll find offered in the better restaurants in town.
We have provided a few recommendations but the supply changes often. So this is mostly a generalized guide to get you started on your explorations.
we’d love to Hear from You if you find any wines locally that you’d care to comment on. (In fact, we’ll add your 2 pesos to this work in progress.
A number of Mexican vineyards have really come into their own in recent years garnering international prizes. Two of the most prominent are available for purchase at the supermarkets here: L.A. Cetto and Monte Xanic. Both producer/distributors are located on the west coast of Mexico in what Mexicans refer to as Baja California. El Valle de Guadalupe is the Napa Valley of Mexico with good climates for grape growing and irrigation systems set up thanks to rich families and government subsidies.
L.A. Cetto is the largest producer/distributor in the country and, indeed, in all of Latin America. The company has made a major push in recent years to educate the masses re the joys of drinking wine and this may in fact be a contributing factor to the growing interest in wine on the Riviera Maya.
If you’re on a budget but want to try some decent Mexican wine, check out the L.A. Cetto label and let us know what you think.
Willing to bump up a bit in price? Then check out the Monte Xanic label.
This is another Italian/Mexican family vineyard. Their chenin blancs are known to be good and they put out an excellent label called Calixa. In addition, their Reserve Viognier is reputed to be outstanding. We sampled a Monte Xanic 2008 Chardonnay priced at $128 pesos (about $10 US at the current exchange rate)and give it lotsa stars. You’ll have to let us know about their reds as we were too tight to shell out $200 pesos to sample them.
There’s a good selection of Chilean wine available to purchase locally with virtually all of it coming from either the Maipo or Central Valley regions..
The local market is dominated by Concha y Toro. Their lower priced vintages – in the $5 – 7$ range – may disappoint unless you can get by with Gallo type jug wine. However, a couple of their sub-labels are worth checking out.
Keep an eye out for their Xplorador label, for example.. My Dad tells me they make a very nice 75% cab/25% Merlot. At least the 2008 vintage was excellent. He bought it at (you guessed it, Costco in So. Cal) which means that it might now or soon be available at the Mega Grocery store which is affiliated with Costco in some way.
We’re also fond of the St. Helena label which is almost always available at the Chedraui. Both their reds and their whites are quite good for table wine and price in at around $70 pesos/$6/bottle.
And keep an eye out for the Vina Maipolabel. We recently sampled a Vina Maipo Reserva Cabernet 2007purchased for $120 pesos/$10 US at the Mega that wasn’t too shabby!
Other Chilean labels you may see in the best local restaurants and should watch for in the stores include El Descanso Chards and Merlots, Ikus merlot/t/cabs, Merlot, chard and blancs, Baron Philippe Chardonnay, Errazuriz Reserve cabernet and Punta Nogal Chardonnay.
We’re seeing two other Chilean labels at the Mega as of 1 Feb 2010, Palo Alto Reserve and Vina Santa Rita both of which are garnering some accolades on the internet depending on the year, of course. But still worth giving those a shot. (We haven’t tried either yet so help us out someone.
There’s a good selection of wine from Argentina available locally. But if you’re looking for good deals, you’re not likely to find any from this country. If you want to sample some of the best of these without having to spring for the entire bottle, Olive Wine Bar carries some interesting choices like the Argentine Malbecs tend to be much better than their cabs, apparently. And if you’re looking for decent champagne, they do this well. It’s called “Methode Champenoise”. The Las Moras label is a decent medium-priced wine to try.
We’ve listed these last because the selection is smaller and the price generally higher. Browse the stores, however and you might find a something interesting and within your price range.
Plenty of it and plenty expensive. Good chiantis and whites are particularly in evidence locally and there’s a good Italian champagne, Proseco. Eduardo offers only one Italian red in his wine bar, the Sicilian, Corvo Rosso and several whites including Santa Margherita Valdadige Pinot Grigio 2009
Good selection available to purchase locally and sometimes they get lots in at considerably discounted prices. Watch for deals on wines from the Rioja or Ribera del duero regions.. Olive carries Conde de Siruela, Ribera del Duero 06 and a Torres Gran Sangre de Toro, Catalunya 2008. He also has an affordable Spanish champagne, Freixenet, Mini Nevada 06.
Poor selection and high prices. Gallo is pretty much it. Much better deals and selection on Mexican, Chilean and Argentine stock.
They’re also available here but, like everywhere, they are expensive because the French never seem to lower their prices, no matter what, do they? So that’s it for the air time they’ll receive in this article.
Australian, S. African and New Zealand
Yes, you can even get wines here from that far away but prices on the Australian’s can’t begin to compete with what you’ll pay for the same labels in the states. S. African and New Zealand wine is also available particularly at the Mega and at better prices than for the Australians generally. Eduardo’s bar features one Aussie vineyard, Renmano with a moderately price Shiraz Mataro and a River Breeze Riesling.
Also see Cozumel Food & Drink