Wine Of The Week: JC Bravo Carignan

This French-style, old vine Carignan could open your eyes to Mexican wine.

If you drive south of San Diego along the coastline, after an hour or so you’ll hit Ensenada, Mexico, the entrance to the Valle de Guadalupe. Head inland and valleys will rise above you, extraterrestrial and desert-like, save for a smattering of vineyards that creep up the sides. Welcome to Mexico’s most exciting wine region.

At the center of the valley, Juan Carlos Bravo and his family have been carefully tending to old bush vines in the heart of the valley, watching over them as years passed and other wineries faltered. 

The family now makes a beautiful Palomino (a white grape most often used in sherry) and an elegant Carignan. It’s no easy feat. Many of his wines are decades-old and quite particular — he harvests the grapes at night to avoid the hot sun of the valley floor and preserve acidity in the grapes. The wine undergoes natural fermentation in concrete vats before it’s left to age for six years.

The resulting wine is ripe and ruby-red, with undertones of sandalwood, baking spices, and soft tannins developed over those six years of aging. $46

Kate Dingwall is a WSET-trained sommelier and spirits writer. Her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Eater,, and Food & Wine, and she pours wine at one of Canada’s top restaurants.