Robin and her friend Susan had been going to Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the coast of Cancun, Mexico for 15 plus years before I was invited to join them in 2005. Along with the typical advice I was given by the two well traveled ladies of “Don’t drink the water”, I was told to not drink the wine. Apparently, their experience showed them that while the ceviche was second to none, and a fresh margarita could be found anywhere, drinkable wine was a rare treat on the Island.
Between the warm weather and lack of adequate storage, as well as the cost to get the wine to the Island, we decided to take our own wine with us on our 8 day trip rather than suffer spoiled wine at every turn. Each of us was able to take 2 bottles of wine with us, so we had 8 bottles of wine for 4 people over 8 days. Needless to say, we had to switch to vodka and tequila about mid trip. So, when we planned our 2009 trip to Isla Mujeres, I was all prepared to bring my own bottles. However, Susan, who had visited in 2008, said that the wines seemed to be improving on the island, and with the obscene costs for luggage now-a-day, we should skip the bring-your-own wine this trip. Robin and I were skeptical, give our desire to have at least decent wine with our … well with anything, but we took Susan’s advice and just went for it.
Wines the the supermercado were nothing to write home about. A mixture of Chilean and Argentine wines, they were inexpensive, mass produced beverages. They resembled the styles that were labeled on the bottle, but that was it at best. While the ladies didn’t mind sipping on a cool glass of “Chardonnay”, I stuck to Vodka when it came to wine from a store. However, the key difference about these wines from past visits is that they were available and seemed to be stored properly and not spoiled, or cooked wines.
However, we found going out the wine was much more enjoyable. Several restaurants, such as Jax, a great place to eat and drink overlooking the water, had decent white wines. Robin tried a red at one, but it was served at “Room Temperature”, or about 75 degrees. Given it was February, we fear for these wines when the warm weather rolls around. However, the white was a chardonnay of no specific note other than it was white, crisp, cool, and fruity.
While I don’t remember tasting specifics, I do remember that the wine we got at the steak house Grill L’Argentina, an Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon from Pascual Toso, was delightful. It wasn’t too costly, certainly under $40, and it paired wonderfully with the grilled meat platter. Retail you could probably find this wine for $15, and it would be well worth it. I kept the cork, so that I could remember to write this post and find the wine when I returned to the states.
While not my palate, the Mexican wine Montevina was quite nice. A blend of cepas, chardonnay, and semillion grapes, it had a sweet, but crisp palate that went nicely with the shrimp ceviche and guacamole. I have done my best to find it again here in the states, but haven’t yet. Perhaps it’s somewhere online, and I’ll search for it. It was definitely pleasant enough, and probably just right for those who like a sweeter wine.
With a lot of time share condos being built, and some luxury accomodations on the south end of the island,Ii suspect the wine you find on Isla Mujeres to be improving with time. It could be a year or less when your visit there has you tasting delights from areas of South America, and beyond. But please, don’t drink the water!