Beyond Cerveza

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Perhaps the biggest surprise at Vinexpo Americas in New York City last month was the buzz around Mexican wines. Although Mexico has the oldest winery in the Americas (Casa Madero, founded in 1597), its wine has never been anywhere near as popular as its beer. It always had the right climate (in northwestern Baja, near Ensenada) and good soil. Boutique wineries started in the 1980s. And with state-of-the-art facilities and European-trained winemakers, they nudged the older wineries to shape up. They are all now producing award-winning wines that are exported to Germany, Spain and France, and making a push on the U.S. market. Look for such labels as Chateau Camou, L.A. Cetto, Monte Xanic, Santo Tomas and Domecq at Disney World, in steak houses and other restaurants — especially Mexican, Nuevo Latino and Southwestern ones — and at upscale wine shops, where they will soon be appearing with more frequency. Or, of course, in Mexico. Here are a few with which to get su bodega started:

--2001 Monte Xanic Vina Kristel (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon), $8 --1998 Monte Xanic Cabernet Sauvignon — Merlot, $12 --1999 Chateau Camou El Gran Vino Blanco, $14 --1996 L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo Private Reserve, $18 --1999 Chateau Camou El Gran Divino Late Harvest dessert wine, $30