Hugo d’Acosta is one of Mexico’s most renowned winemakers. He makes several labels of highly acclaimed wines in Baja California and has led a new generation of winemakers through his charitable school, La Escuelita. Amanda Barnes interviews him on the renaissance of Mexican wine – its history and how it has changed today. They talk about the terroir of Baja California, the character of its wines and the potential for the future.
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Clip excerpt for the hearing impaired:
Amanda: There’s one more really important quality to the wines from the region that we haven’t touched on, and you were saying that a sommelier once when he was tasting this wine, which is your Vino de Piedra, one of the most emblematic wines here, that he said it was very, very salty!
Hugo: And he was right!
So, what is this salt component? Where does it come from, and how does it express itself?
Well, the saltiness I think is this marine… there are two things: the salt because it is salt, and it is also a characteristic because we are close to the ocean, and because the peninsula was under water many, many years ago. So it is part of our skin, no? I’m a brown guy. So my skin is brown. So I don’t need to clean my skin, I need to show it in the natural way. The saltiness, these flavours, come from – of course – this soil, that is with the marine characteristic that comes from many years ago; the Ocean influence is giving us an extra flavour of saltiness; also if you are taking the water fast, and you don’t leave the water to clean part of your soil, you have that. But I think this flavour is something you can work with, you can deal with. Because in food salt can be something very important, in a good way, or a bad way, and I think in wine it is the same thing. We need to have these flavours that give us a wine that is much more rich in the expression of mouth, and also the saltiness is something that is there and changes in perception or quantity in the ageing process of the wine.
And all of this kind of wraps up the identity of what we have in Mexican wine, but what do you think are the greatest opportunities for the next generation of winemakers here?
I think that we need to focus on our personality. It is like you are a human being, but when you go to school you try to be like your neighbour, and no – you need to find your characteristics and I think the new generation needs to understand itself, the characteristic of the area, and keep it like something that doesn’t exist in other parts of the world. If we are able to communicate our personality, and it is something that some people are going to like – and some people are not – we are going to be unique. And I think that wines should be unique. When you taste a wine from Baja, even if you like it or not, you need to be sure that it is a Baja wine.
Amanda: Excellent, and it certainly tastes unique. It’s wonderful. So, ‘vamos Mexico’!