The Wines Of Baja California

Try these up-and-coming Mexican wines

In the past few years, tequila and mezcal have left their rotgut reputations behind to become some of the most coveted spirits on the market.

Mexican wine? Not so much.

Centered in the Valle de Guadalupe in our sister state of Baja California, the Mexican wine industry dates to 1701. But despite this long history, Baja wines have a bad rap.

Sommelier Stacie Hunt of Du Vin Wine & Spirits in West Hollywood has dedicated herself to changing that reputation, by bringing great bottles into the city and hosting tastings and special events to promote the region's wineries.

Baja grapes benefit from the region's warm weather and ample sunlight, which make for a fruit-forward flavor profile. But their personality and uniqueness come from earthier, mineral notes less predominant in our Alta California wines.

Blends are far from orthodox, but an '04 Vinisterra Cascabel ($37) shows that Tempranillo (70 percent) and Grenache (30 percent) make for good partners, yielding a wine full of dark berries and dried fruit and spice.

The '08 Malbec ($30) from Emeve was another standout, a bottle that, contrasted with wines from Mendoza or Cahors, shows how much place influences taste.

It may have taken 300 years, but Baja is finally becoming a "new," exciting region for wine.

Du Vin Wine & Spirits, 540 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood; 310-855-1161 or