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TASTING NOTES: Exploring the wines of Mexico
I just came back from a couple weeks in Mexico and am quite excited about what 2014 will bring.
We’ll learn more about the B.C. Liquor Policy Review that the province is looking to implement, and see how many of the proposed changes like liquor in grocery stores and happy hours will roll out.
I’m looking forward to travelling to Chile, Germany and Washington State to dive deep into their respective vineyards and wineries, and of course seeing what the new year brings for the world of B.C. wine.
I put in a fair amount of energy into exploring Mexican wines while I was there.
Seriously; stay with me here. Just as many around the world are surprised there are good wines to be had from Canada, the same goes for Mexico.
The main reason for this is volume — there’s simply not that much to go around. In fact, their production is currently around 2 million cases which is roughly the same level as British Columbia’s current output. They’ve been at it a tad longer though, ever since Spanish settlers planted vines in the 16th century.
In fact, Mexico has been producing wine longer than any other country in the Americas.
While 90 per cent of their production comes from the Baja Peninsula (which enjoys a similar climate to Napa), a high concentration of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium in their soil has been known to occasionally add a slight ‘salty’ character to their wines, often making them a bit of an acquired taste.
While I found a good dose of Viogniers, Chenin Blancs, Merlots and Syrahs that were quite impressive, the availability of Mexican wine in our market is quite scarce. In saying that, I was able to track down one label I’d quite enjoyed:
L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo | Baja California, Mexico | $30-ish, Private Wine Stores
While myself and wine fans may immediately think Barolo or Barbaresco when the Nebbiolo grape is mentioned, I was quite pleased to find many of the typical aromas and flavours you’d find back in Italy here, from tar and roses to dried fruit and chocolate. The style definitely leans ‘New World’ though, a little more ripe, generous fruit and a mouthfeel that’s quite rich and velvety.
Grilled meats, wild mushrooms and very big wine glasses will serve it well. You can track a bottle down at Brewery Creek on Main Street in Vancouver, the Liberty Wines outlets at Granville Island and Park Royal in West Van, and a handful of other private stores.
Oh, and atop my inbox upon my return was a note about a pretty cool event. Find out why I’m often keen to recommend the wines of Meyer Family Vineyards of Okanagan Falls. On Jan. 15 at 6 p.m., winery owner Jak Meyer will be presenting a “side-by-side” single vineyard sampling, including their Gold Medal Reimer Vineyard Pinot Noir and Platinum Medal McLean Creek Road Chardonnay, alongside a four-course feast at Forage on Robson Street.
I’ve long been a fan of chef Chris Whittaker’s hyper-local, sustainable fare; it should dovetail quite nicely with Meyer’s bright, elegant wines. The whole thing’s just $65 plus tax and tip. Track down tickets, and quick, at ForageVancouver.com
As always, if you’re having trouble finding something or just want to say hi, find me via KurtisKolt.com or on Twitter @KurtisKolt
Kurtis Kolt teams up with Loblaw’s City Market
It’s a new year and Outlook wine columnist Kurtis Kolt is hunting the aisles of North Van’s Loblaw’s City Market in search of the perfect pairings to go along with his weekly wine picks.
Now, let’s get pairing:
The good thing about pairing food with wines made from the Nebbiolo grape is that most classic matches will be pretty bulletproof, regardless of the subtle nuances of the wine’s style. While I centered this week’s column around one wine, going to the grape’s Italian homeland and grabbing a Barolo or Barbaresco from producers such as Ricossa, Batasiolo or Fontanafredda (all available at BC Liquor Stores) will easily follow suit, food-wise. The variety makes fairly big, tannic wines, and can often be quite rich. Because of its bold style, pairing Nebbiolos with subtle and delicate dishes generally won’t work well, they often require something a little meatier to stand up against.
Go literal here; something like a Dry-Aged Boneless Rib Steak, and do it up however you like. If you want to amp up the pairing potential, mushrooms and Nebbiolos are always a sure-fire hit. Whether sautéing some Ponderosa Crimini Mushrooms or re-constituting a handful of Ponderosa Dried Shiitake Mushrooms and then employing them in a sauce or as a side, the ‘meatiness’ of mushrooms can go a long way, especially if you add a splash of the wine to your sauce. Other ways of playing around include rich risottos, again with mushrooms, or a simple plate of cured meats and sausage.
As you may have guessed, these types of combos will always pair well with cold or rainy nights. January should be a perfect fit!