Welcome back to part 2 of our Valle de Guadalupe mini-tasting series. We last left off in part 1 with our glass of Chardonnay (half full not half empty) from Emevé and are now ready to move on to the next winery: JC Bravo.
JC Bravo has two locations: their actual vineyard and their tasting room. They are not next to each other as one might expect, so please pay close attention to the map of wineries to locate the JC Bravo tasting room. Luckily, it also happens to be conveniently located off of the main highway. The location is really a cool-looking place and you wouldn’t know it’s a tasting room because it resembles more of an old house. The brick structure is low and relatively small but don’t be fooled, there is a serious wine cellar below that the owners will give you a tour of, if you ask. Since we were short on time we didn’t ask but you bet we will next time. The place provides plenty of outdoor seating in the shade and sufficient indoor seating. When you walk through the doors you sort of get the impression you’re in an old saloon. There is a rustic wooden bar to the left where the two Bravo brothers typically tend to their guests and to the right are tables and chairs that are aligned next to the brick staircase leading to the cellar.
The Bravo brothers are nice guys. Spanish is their first language, but it’s rumored they both speak English well. They’re incredibly hospitable and treat every guest like you’re their friend. Upon ordering a bottle of wine, they usually give you bread with olive oil, a plate of their own handcrafted cheeses that have been soaked inside of a wine barrel, and sometimes fresh marmalade. Not sure if this is always to be expected but it was a nice touch. We were given the bread and cheese, which went well with the wine.
JC Bravo serves two varieties: Palomino (white) and Carignan (red). We’ve only tried their Carignan. Carignan is originally from Cariñena, Aragon, but is really known as both a Spanish and French wine. It’s found in southern France (Languedoc-Roussillon) and northeastern Spain (Catalonia) but is now grown all over the world. Aged in American oak, the JC Bravo Carignan was described to us as being full-flavored, fruity, and having a strong aroma of berries, spices, and ripe fruit. FUN WINE FACT: Carignan was considered the single most common vine variety in France until it was taken over by Merlot in the late 20th century. It’s a tough grape to grow but it’s still traditionally a high-yielding grape that does best in warm climates.
Carignan is a good wine to pair with strong cheeses (hence the free cheese) and with grilled meat (bbq anyone?). The JC Bravo Palomino is a white wine that’s on the drier side and was referred to, by the Bravo brothers, as having a hint of pear and citrus. Jeanette and I love white wines but coming from Emevé and trying their Chardonnay, we wanted to switch over to red. We will definitely be trying the Palomino next time and let you know how it is.
Mexico wine country is truly a hidden gem that should be taken advantage of and although we only had time to visit two wineries, Valle de Guadalupe is still small enough (relative to Napa or even Paso) that you can visit many wineries in one day. We plan to do more next time, but so far Emevé and JC Bravo did not disappoint.
We hope you enjoyed our first visit together to Baja Wine Country. This is only the beginning and we plan to schedule a trip back very soon. Let us know which of the two wineries you’re most interested in visiting from our Valle de Guadalupe tour. Happy drinking! Salud!
JC Bravo Vinos – Go for the Carignan. Try a bottle for $20 USD. They also give you bread with a side of olive oil for free. On this occasion the strong cheese (soaked in a wine barrel) was also complimentary and was delicious. They know how to treat their guests!