BAJA UNCORKED 2017

Valle Wine Life had the opportunity to enjoy two and a half days with our friends and a few of our partner wineries during the 2017 Baja Uncorked conference. Baja Uncorked is an annual event that was founded by two wine distributors (LMA Wines and La Competencia Imports) who carry a wide range of Mexican labels.

Baja Uncorked was organized as a special event for wine professionals from the United States to experience the Valle de Guadalupe region first-hand. Open to wine buyers, wine retailers, sommeliers and press, Baja Uncorked presented a unique opportunity for the presentation of Valle de Guadalupe wines to a large group of buyers and influencers.

SUNDAY JUNE 25

6:00 - 9:00 WELCOME RECEPTION AT MONTE XANIC

The Baja Uncorked experience started with a beautiful welcome reception at Monte Xanic. It was a pleasure to see so many wineries in one location. Wine was poured and new friendships were started. We enjoyed tastings from 37 wineries, bread and cheese as well as a seemingly endless supply of ceviche and fish tacos. As the evening progressed, attendees were treated to a beautiful sunset from our hillside location. The conclusion of the evening came too soon for some but rest was required as we had two activity filled days ahead of us.

MONDAY JUNE 26

10:00 - 12:00 HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY OF BAJA CALIFORNIA AT CASA MAGONI

Monday morning started with an excellent selection of guest speakers. The event Moderator was the wonderfully informative Pedro Poncelis (D'Poncelis), The first presentation was from valley icon Camilo Magoni (Casa Magoni). Additional presentations were given by Santiago Cosio Pando (Santo Tomas) and Fernando Martain (Cavas Valmar) both notable figures in the Mexican wine industry. At the conclusion of the event guests were invited to taste a variety of Nebbiolo wines from the valley.

12:30 - 2:30 LUNCH AND TASTINGS AT EMEVE

Our day continued with lunch at Emeve. I greatly enjoyed the vegetarian crostini and it paired well with several of the wines that were being served. After lunch, attendees were treated to a tour of the VIP room at the winery. Tastings consisted of monovarietal rose and and white wines.

3:00 - 4:30 TASTINGS AT EL CIELO VILLAS

At the conclusion of lunch we moved onto another tasting at the beautiful villas at El Cielo. Owner Gustavo Ortega and his lovely wife were wonderful hosts. Upon arrival guests were offered a cold towel (to fend off the increasing heat of the day) and were provided with water, soda, coffee and other offerings. El Cielo has completed two villas which are available to rent for those who may be seeking a more elevated accommodation here in Valle de Guadalupe. Tastings consisted of red monovarietals with a Italian, Spanish or Croatian grape. 

5:00 - 6:30 TASTINGS AT VINAS DE LA ERRE

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The fourth stop of the day was at Vinas de la ERRE which has an expansive view over both their vineyard and the valley beyond. Guests were provided with embroidered hats bearing the logo of the winery. Tastings consisted of monovarietal Cabernet Sauvignon that were produced in different valleys in the Ensenada region. It was truly interesting to taste the differences in the terroir from valleys such as Santo Tomas, San Vicente and Ojos Negros.

7:00 - 10:00 TASTINGS AND TAQUIZA DINNER AT CAVA MACIEL

The fifth and final stop on Monday led us to Cava Maciel. Owner Jorge Maciel provided a taco bar consisting of animals that were cooked whole over hot embers. Each guest was provided with two pork tacos and one lamb taco, beans and potato salad. Guests were once again treated to an amazing sunset from Jorge's property. Tastings for the evening consisted of Rhone and Bordeaux style wines as well as oaked Chardonnay.

TUESDAY JUNE 27

10:00 - 12:30 FOREIGNERS PRODUCING WINE IN BAJA CALIFORNIA SEMINAR AT ENTRE SANTOS / SANTO TOMAS

Tuesday morning started with a presentation by several speakers on the subject of foreigners doing business in the Mexican wine industry. Once again the event MC was Pedro Poncelis. The first speaker was Victor Segura (Las Nubes) who provided information on several foreigners who were not in attendance. Second speaker of the morning was Phil Gregory (Vena Cava) who was one of the first foreigners to open a winery in Valle de Guadalupe. Third to speak was Kris Magnussen Shute (Lechuza) who discussed her role as an American winemaker in Mexico. Last to speak was Lourdes "LuLu" Martinez Ojeda (Henri Lurton) who discussed her background in French winemaking and the direction of the Henri Lurton wines. After the presentation the attendees were invited to try a selection of pre-launch wines.

1:00 - 2:30 LUNCH AND TASTINGS AT RELIEVE WINERY

Our second location of the day was Relieve. We enjoyed a great preview of the new winery being constructed while drinking a glass of cold white wine. We are excited for this winery to open later this year. It is a massive project and it will undoubtedly be a great addition to Valle de Guadalupe. After the tour, guests walked to the on-site restaurant Mixtura where lunch was served. We spent the better part of two hours eating and tasting both red and white blends.

3:00 - 5:00 TASTINGS AT CASA DE PIEDRA

Sadly, my phones battery died while I was at lunch. This necessitated a quick trip home to get my phones charging cable. Because of the side trip, I was a few minutes late to our third stop at Casa de Piedra. Walking up the hill to the event site, I encountered a group of winemakers sitting under the shade of an olive tree drinking beer. They kindly offered me a can of beer. Although I appreciated their generosity, I stated to the group that we were in-fact promoting the wine industry. My comment was quickly answered with "It takes a lot of beer to make good wine". This type of logic is what makes Valle de Guadalupe so special for me!

At the top of the hill attendees were busy tasting classic blends. Thankfully, Petra from Casa de Piedra, was serving the house sparkling wine. It was perfect for such a hot afternoon. After a few sips I joined my friend Ernesto and several guests who were enjoying a late afternoon siesta in the very comfortable chairs made from recycled wine barrels. After brief but relaxing break we were headed to our final stop of the day.

5:30 - 10:00 DINNER AND TASTINGS AT CORONA DEL VALLE

Our final stop of the day and the event was at the family friendly Corona del Valle. Guests spent an hour tasting Baja Unique Blends. Winemakers were given the opportunity to showcase blends that are unique to this region. A wonderful coopering demonstration on how wine barrels are produced was offered for the attendees. 

After the wine tasting period, guests were invited to dinner at Corona del Valle's new indoor restaurant. A four-course dinner was served, speeches were given and thanks were extended to those who organized the event. After dinner wine flowed non-stop for all of those still standing. It was an exciting end to a great event. 

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For those who have an interest in learning more about Baja Uncorked or purchasing Mexican wine in the United States you may contact the event organizers directly.

LMA Wines - Michelle Martain - mmartain@lmawines.com

La Competencia Imports - Tom Bracamontes - tomas@lacompetenciaimports.com

EVENTS IN VALLE DE GUADALUPE

JUNE

2 Conferencias en Flor / Santo Tomas

3 Fiesta de los Vinedos en Flor / Finca la Carrodilla

3 Rosario Flores / Baron Balche

10 Cooking in the Valley / Finca Altozano

10 Lila Downs / Santo Tomas

10 Ballet Folklorio de Mexico / El Cielo

17 Summer Beerfest / Cerveceria Doble C

17 Mariachi Vargas / L.A. Cetto

18 Concierto de Gala / El Cielo

23 Elite Runway Show / Rancho L-86

24 Cena Celebracion / La Lomita

25 Lupita Fest / Mixtura

25 Parrillada Campestre / Maglen Resort

25 Baja Uncorked (June 25 - 28)

JULY

1 Vino + Paella / Baron Balche

1 Lanzamiento de Botellas Al Mar / Playa de Pacifica

8 Fesitval al Mar & Vino / Estero Beach

27 Salon del Vino / Hotel Riviera

28 Muestra del Vino / Hotel Riviera

29 Valle Sunset w/ Playa Limbo / L.A. Cetto

29 Destino Norte / Alximia

AUGUST

4 Regresando a la Vendimia / Vinisterra

4 Asi se va a Las Estrellas / Finca la Carrodilla

5 Concierto del Crepusculo / Monte Xanic

5 Cena de Gala Adobe Guadalupe / Adobe Guadalupe

5 Terruno / Rondo Del Valle

6 Fiesta en la Riviera / Paseo Riviera

6 Cena 20 Aniversario una Noche en Casa de Piedra / Casa de Piedra

10 Cofradia del Noble Vino Tijuana / CEARTE

10 Fiesta en el Valle / Parque de El Porvenir

12 Salsa and Vino / Alximia

12 REIK / Bodegas del Valle

12 Alexis Bostelmann / Vinicola Claudius

12 Fiesta de la Vendimia / L.A. Cetto

12 Noche Bonita / Relieve Vinicola

17 La Singularidad de Cosme / La Lomita

18 Del Huerto y el Vinedo a Tu Mesa / Finca Altozano

18 Renacimiento / Clos de Tres Cantos

19 Jose Maria Napoleon / Baron Balche

19 Verbena Santo Tomas / Santo Tomas

19 Winefest featuring Matute / Castillo Ferrer

19 Atardecer Romantico / Chateau Camou

19 Texturas por Hilo Negro / Hilo Negro

19 El Origen Cuenta / Vinedos Palafox

20 Concurso de Paellas / Liceaga

SEPTEMBER

2 Margarita y Los Angeles Azules / Santo Tomas

9 Pandora / L.A. Cetto

OCTOBER

1 Festival de la Paella y el Vino / L.A. Cetto

14 Banda MS / Santo Tomas

21 XXI Muestra del Vino en Mexicali

28 Emmanuel / L.A. Cetto

LECHUZA SPRING RELEASE

Saturday May 27, 2017 Lechuza hosted their fourth annual Spring Release event at their beautiful vineyard in Valle de Guadalupe. The Spring Release continues to grow in size each year and this year Lechuza once again hosted a sold-out crowd.

Guest arrival at Lechuza

Guest arrival at Lechuza

The never-ending dining table

The never-ending dining table

Arrival time was at 4:00 PM. Guests were provided with a glass and a selection of wines. Prior to dinner service, we were entertained by three food stations serving small bites.

Amazing culinary talents on display

Amazing culinary talents on display

Drew Deckman tending to his oysters

Drew Deckman tending to his oysters

Always present.... Lechuza's founder Ray Magnussen

Always present.... Lechuza's founder Ray Magnussen

Dinner began at 6:00 PM. A three hour dinner service provided guests four courses served family style. Hats off to the amazing team of chefs led by Drew Deckman as it is no easy task to serve 190 guests. Everyone had a great time talking and meeting new friends at the communal table that ran the length of the vineyard.

The start of a beautiful dinner

The start of a beautiful dinner

The sun sets on Lechuza

The sun sets on Lechuza

At the conclusion of dinner, plates were cleared and guests were invited to spend the rest of the evening on the dance floor. A lovely dessert buffet was provided for all and soon after a taco bar was set-up for those in need of a late night snack.

Dancing the night away!

Dancing the night away!

Lechuza executed an amazing event and it is clear why this continues to be one of the hardest tickets to come by each year. My sincere appreciation to both Kris and Adam for their continued kindness and generosity. You can taste the love, pride and talent in each bottle of wine at Lechuza.

Please follow Lechuza on both Facebook and Instagram and email them for your wine tasting reservation.

Provino Rompehielo Event

Friday April 21, 2016 marked the date of this years Rompehielo (Ice Breaker) event produced by ProVino. Unlike the other events during Festival de las Conchas y el Vino Nuevo, the Ice Breaker event is not open to the public and is reserved for those in the Mexican wine industry. The 2017 Rompehielo was held at Mixtura, the onsite restaurant of Relieve Vinicola.

The event started at 7:00 PM. I wanted to arrive early in order to photograph the venue during the daylight hours. Everything looked amazing and a great deal of thought was put into the small details. Lounges with fire pits were created to not only foster conversation but to keep guests warm as the sun set behind the mountains. Several food stations in the form of Ensenada's best food carts were positioned around the venue. Once again wine flowed freely and this was an excellent opportunity to taste a large number of labels that may be otherwise hard to come by.

As this was an industry event, I want to respect the privacy of those who attended and not publish their photographs. It was a beautiful evening and I enjoyed talking with my friends and in true ice breaker fashion I had the opportunity to make several new friends. A special thanks to my buddy Jorge Maciel and his lovely wife Ana. Their kindness and generosity is truly appreciated.

Maglen Resort - The Official Hotel of Valle Wine Life

Valle Wine Life is proud to announce our partnership with the Maglen Resort. Valle Wine Life considers the Maglen Resort to be the premiere hotel complex in Valle de Guadalupe. The Maglen Resort offers a wide range of accommodations across their various properties such as Villas Maglen, Tesela and El Encinal.

As a reader of the Valle Wine Life Blog, you can enjoy a substantial discount on your upcoming stay at the Maglen Resort. Use code "Wine Life Maglen" and call 01 52 (646) 152 1284 to make your reservation today!

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Tarde de Mejillones

The second event of the weeklong Fesitval de las Conchas y Vino Nuevo (Festival of Shells and New Wine) was held on Tuesday April 18, 2017. This event was titled Tarde de Mejillones (Afternoon of Mussels) and was held at Bar Bura at Cuatro Cuatros. The event started at 4:00 PM and carried a ticket price of $250.00 pesos ($14.00 USD). 

In the past few years, the overlook bar at Cuatros Cuatros has become quite the tourist attraction. I was excited to participate in this event as it would allow me time with my industry friends outside of our normal valley meeting spots of wineries and restaurants. It was also an opportunity to enjoy the amazing view from Cuatro Cuatros without the traditional weekend crowd. 

Guest check-in was conducted at the base of the hill (where Cuatro Cuatros now charges for parking on their normal days of operation). Upon verification of your admission, guests were instructed to drive to the top of the hill for parking. Two shuttle busses were running to take guests from the parking area to the event venue. Similar to the event on Monday, guests were given a souvenir wine glass (etched with the Provino logo). Unlike the previous event, there were no limitations on the number of tastings or food samples you could obtain. Due to my overindulging the Saturday prior to these events, I kept my alcoholic consumption to a minimum. During my three hours at the event, I counted over sixty (60) different labels being served. It is truly wonderful to see so many wines represented regardless of their affiliation with Provino.

The Afternoon of Mussels event had a total of six (6) restaurants providing samples and small dishes for guests. Boules, Cuatro Cuatros, Da Toni, La Concheria, Muelle 3 and Pacifico were all providing dishes showcasing Mussels. To be honest, I am not a true fan of any shell fish other than shrimp but these events have opened my mind to the other wonderful edible sea life that is cultivated here in the Ensenada region. 

After a relaxing three hours of wine, food and conversation the majority of the crowd was able to take in the amazing sunset view. I have traveled a good portion of the world but I have never experienced any sunset as beautiful as the ones I have witnessed at Cuatro Cuatros. I encourage anyone visiting this area to make it a point to take it in at least once. You will not regret your decision and you will certainly have some Instagram worthy photographs to take home. 

My original plan was to attend two of the special dinners this week (Thursday and Saturday) but work commitments will now limit my participation to just two additional events. Later this week I will report on Friday's industry only Rompehielo (Icebreaker) event at Relieve Vinicola and the final, and largest, event Fesitval de las Conchas y Vino Nuevo on Sunday.

Dia de Ostiones

2017 marks the 18th year of Provino's annual Fesitval de las Conchas y Vino Nuevo (Festival of Shells and New Wine). For 2017, Provino offered a weeklong series of demonstrations, tours, dinners that culminates with the largest event on Sunday. This week long festival is also the unofficial kick-off for the event season in Valle de Guadalupe.

The first event of the week was held on Monday April 17, 2017. The event was titled Dia de Ostiones (Day of Oysters) and was held at Drew Deckman's Conchas de Piedra restaurant at the Casa de Piedra winery. The event started at 1:00 PM and carried a ticket price of $250.00 pesos ($14.00 USD). 

Upon arrival guests were given a souvenir wine glass (etched with the Provino logo) and a printed card allowing you six (6) oyster samples and five (5) glasses of wine. It was a pleasant surprise to see that over 45 different wines were offered at this one event. For many guests, myself included, it was a truly difficult challenge to narrow our selection down to just five wines. Guests could also purchase additional glasses of wine for the reasonable price of $15.00 pesos (.83 cents USD).

After selecting our first wine, we headed to the nearby counter to receive our various oysters. Here, Drew Deckman was diligently instructing his staff on the proper presentation of the oysters. Despite the need to monitor his staff and the need to open countless oysters, Drew kindly looked up from the task at hand to say hello and welcome guests to the event. With each plate of oysters, guests were also provided with a card indicating the type and source of each individual oyster.

The event had a total of three (3) demonstrations for guests. The first was an informative presentation on how to open an oyster (without cutting off a finger). The second presentation discussed the pairing of oysters and wine. The third and final presentation offered instruction on the preparation of the oysters.

The event was well organized and it was an absolute value for what was a very low ticket price. Although this event was open to anyone who was willing to purchase a ticket, it clearly did not attract the general public. It was a little disappointing to see that this event was filled with only those who are in the Mexican wine industry. It must have been a challenge for non-industry types to attend the event which was held the day after Easter. The event was very informative and I wish it would have been a more attractive option for tourists to the area. I don't doubt that the general public will be out in force for the events on Saturday and Sunday.

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After consuming my five glasses of wine and my plate of oysters, it was time to say goodbye to everyone. A good number of us will be at it again in less than twenty-four hours time for the second event of the Festival titled Tarde de Mejillones (Afternoon of Mussels). We offer our gratitude to both Provino and Drew Deckman for what amounted to an excellent afternoon.

TREVISTA VINEYARDS SIX COURSE DINNER

In an offer of full disclosure to our readers, I have great hesitation in writing this post. Although I want to share the fact that I had a wonderful evening at Trevista Vineyards, the truth is that I selfishly want to keep Trevista all to myself. I truly love Trevista Vineyards as well as the owners James Taylor and Hilda Pacheco-Taylor.

Despite my hesitation, I feel obliged to tell everyone about my most recent experience at Trevista. I am confident that that when 'my' little vineyard becomes known to the world, their amazing personalized wine tasting experience will not change as the owners are clearly committed to their craft. Trevista is one winery that has truly mastered the art of customer service.

I was first introduced to the lovely owners of Trevista in 2014 by their neighbor Reynaldo Rodriguez (proprietor of Quinta Monasterio). Sadly, my living in another state did not permit me the time to visit Trevista on a regular basis. In 2016 I was blessed with an opportunity to move to Valle de Guadalupe and to become a full-time resident of the area, Since my arrival in el Valle, Trevista has been my go-to wine oasis as it is sure to impress both friends and clients.

What makes this venue truly remarkable is their unique approach to wine tastings. Guests who are fortunate enough to acquire a space at one of their three (3) weekend tastings are gifted with six (6) varied tapas while enjoying several vintages/expressions of their Tempranillo and Cabernet wines. While I could write countless paragraphs about their tastings, I will keep my writing on this subject brief so as not to spoil the surprise for those who have yet to attend. 

During a tasting early this year, Hilda and I spoke about the possibility of doing a private dinner for Valle Wine Life. Looking at our respective schedules, we quickly agreed on a date and time. While Hilda was open to a collaboration or guidance on the menu, I advised her that the conception of this event would be left entirely to her discretion.

Small bites before the main event.

Small bites before the main event.

Our event was scheduled for April 1, 2017. Valle Wine Life guests were requested to arrive at Trevista at 4:30 PM. Our group received a warm reception by both James and Hilda who kindly poured each guest a glass of champagne. Our group spent the better part of an hour talking while enjoying an amazing selection of cold meats, artisan breads and cheeses, olives and of course, grapes, Once the final guest arrived, James provided us with a short tour of the Trevista vineyard as well as their wine cellar (cava). In the cava, Valle Wine Life guests were given an in depth description of the organic practices utilized in Trevista's wine making process.

Be our guest...

Be our guest...

James requested that we help him carry several bottles of wine to our dining table. Upon our arrival back at the house, we were seated at a long communal table just as the sun began to set. It was truly a beautiful sight to watch the day fade away while gazing at a well manicured vineyard. Always a gentlemen, James first served the ladies of our group with a glass of wine. Shortly after filling our titanium crystal wine glasses, Hilda presented our first dish of the evening.

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Dinner service lasted for two hours and provided us with a wide variety of dishes to include Jurel Ceviche, Beet Gaspacho, Grilled Pear Salad, Salmon Penne, Flat Iron Steak and Sweet Corn Brulee. The dinner was an absolute hit with all in attendance. The flavors were bold and paired well with each of the house wines selected by James.

At the conclusion of the dinner, guests were given an after dinner cocktail and offered a cigar. By this time the fire pit was lit and its warmth and red/orange flame begged us to gather round. It was here that the Valle Wine Life group spent several more hours wrapped in blankets while discussing our lives outside of our current wine fantasy land.

Fire pit and vineyard as seen on our arrival at Trevista

Fire pit and vineyard as seen on our arrival at Trevista

As the night progressed, guests took their leave after emotional goodbyes. It never fails to amaze me how guests at Trevista find it extremely difficult to depart. This reaction is a clear testament to the unrivaled service provided to all who enter this happy place. Guests may enter as strangers but they depart as members of the Trevista family.

The Valle Wine Life team offers our sincere appreciation to our guests who joined us for this unique experience. We would also like to offer our gratitude to the entire Trevista team who helped make this dinner such a memorable time for all involved. I encourage readers of this blog post to contact Trevista and reserve your place for Valle de Guadalupe's ultimate wine tasting experience. Please follow them on Facebook and Instagram or email them at trevistavino@gmail.com.

 

El Cielo's Guadalupe Pairing Dinner

At Valle Wine Life, we feel that the entire 'Cena Maridaje' experience (known in English as a dinner pairing) is an overused event concept that is rarely pulled off with any form of panache. Pricing for these dinner pairing events are typically in the $1,750.00 peso range ($92.00 USD) but have gone as high as $8,500.00 MXN (almost $450.00 USD). As we reach the end of 2016 we have seen well over one hundred of these dinners advertised throughout the year so it was truly no surprise to us when an advertisement hit our inbox for yet another 'Cena Maridaje'.

What grabbed our attention about this announcement was the depth of the culinary talent involved in the dinner. Diego Hernandez of Corazon de Tierra, Giannina Gabaldon of Olivia, Sheyla Alvarado of Traslomita and Roberto Alcocer of Malva were some of the names that jumped out at us. The listing of wineries was also strong featuring some of our favorites such as JC Bravo, Legado Sais, Emeve and Las Nubes. Sadly, the logo of local winery Viña Emiliana was incorrect on all literature for the event and was substituted with the logo of a Chilean winery of a similar name.

The dinner theme was 'Cena Guadalupe' (Guadalupe Dinner in English) to be held at El Cielo. Pricing for the event was listed as $1,200.00 MXN or just over $63.00 USD at El Cielo's exchange rate of 19 pesos to the dollar. The event ticket listed a start time of 7:00 PM, however, guests were made to wait until 7:40 PM before the start of a cocktail hour in El Cielo’s main lobby.

30 minutes after the start time and still no wine

30 minutes after the start time and still no wine

The evening began with a 2011 Carignan from JC Bravo which provided a great start to the event. After passing the wine to the approximately fifty guests in attendance, waiters then arrived with canapés. The first misstep of the evening was the service staff walking past countless guests directly to El Cielo's owner, Gustavo Ortega, and his wife to provide the first serving of each canapé. A truly gracious host would elect to be served last and instruct his staff to take care of the guests first.

Passed Canapés consisted of Tartar de New York Ahumado, Mini Esquite, Tostada de Atún y Chicharrón Prensado, Ostión y Betabel, Bocolito de Frijol con Tuétano, Cotija y Hoja Santa and a Sope de Pulpo en Escabeche. We could not find fault with any of the canapés, as they were all well executed. Having cocktail tables strategically placed throughout the room would have been ideal for this event as it felt awkward to stand holding both a wine glass and a plate of food. Towards the end of the cocktail hour, guests were served El Cielo's 2015 Halley (Chardonnay) at a perfect temperature.

Guests were escorted upstairs to the dining room where dinner would be served. While everyone was quickly seated, we were held at the door and asked by El Cielo staff to see our tickets. Upon presentation of our tickets, we were met with a barrage of questions such as what winery we represented and how we acquired the tickets. The treatment we received was very disappointing. Sadly, this seems to be the new norm at El Cielo based on the feedback we have received from many of our loyal followers. Event staff then placed a phone call to some other unknown staffer to verify the validity of the tickets. Having already been in the building for over an hour this was a massive overreaction on the part of El Cielo staff.

We were finally granted entry to the dining room and seated at table 5. After a ‘welcome’ speech by Gustavo Ortega, the participating chefs each made a brief (and unnecessary) introduction to the food they had prepared. While we try to be understanding of the cultural differences that exist between Mexico and the United States, we fail to understand the concept of what amounts to a curtain call prior to the actual performance. At the conclusion of the speeches, wine was poured and we were ready to start our journey through eight different courses of wine and food.

El Cielo event space

El Cielo event space

Table setting

Table setting

THE HITS

The first course of the evening, Tostada de Pata y Mejillón by Chef Eduardo Cervantes was great in execution. The dish was paired with a crisp, well balanced Sauvignon Blanc from Corona del Valle. Sadly, the pairing or marriage of the food and wine was slightly off as the food increased the acidity of the wine.

Our second course of Enselada de Nopal by Chef Giannina Gavaldon of Olivia was flawless in both conception and execution. Guests were offered the added bonus of adding Chapulines (grasshoppers) to their cactus salad. The dish was paired with the Herencia Blanco from Bodegas F. Rubio another well balanced white wine that was an excellent companion to the dish. Sadly, the chefs’ name was misspelled twice on the event menu.

Our fifth course was the only true homerun of the evening. Chef Sheyla Alvarado’s Pork Belly en Mole Verde was truly amazing. The dish was paired perfectly with a Legado Sais Tempranillo. This pairing was the absolute high point of the evening and reminds us to enjoy Sheyla’s food at Traslomita more often.

Pork Belly en Mole Verde

Pork Belly en Mole Verde

The sixth course of the evening by Latitud 32’s Chef Marco Marin presented us with a Rack de Cordero semidulce, puré de berenjena y vegetales rostizados. Presentation was very nice, but not perfect, as two perfect sized lamb lollipops had their bones wrapped in tinfoil. Flavor was excellent even though the lamb was slightly overcooked. We felt the dish paired well with El Cielo’s Procyon wine.

Rack de Cordero semidulce

Rack de Cordero semidulce

The seventh course by Diego Hernandez of Corazon de Tierra was an Arroz Peregrino de Jojutla con Peridz y Aceglas. The flavors were bold and the dish was well executed. This course was paired with a Las Nubes Nebbiolo. Both food and wine were good, but once again, this was not a perfect pairing.

The final course of the evening gave us our postre or dessert. Chef Roberto Alcocer of Malva created a “La Rosa de Guadalupe”. Both the concept and the flavor were excellent. The plating of the dish was over the top with unncessary whole leaves and petals from roses. The dish was paired with Rosado from Viña Emiliana. Excellent pairing and a nice conclusion to the meal.

"La Rosa de Guadalupe"

"La Rosa de Guadalupe"

THE MISSES

The third course of the evening, Jurel al Mole Rojo by Chef Erick Ull was a disappointment. The Malbec from Emeve paired well with the mole in the dish, but everything else about the dish was a complete miss. The fish was overcooked, dry and left a lingering aftertaste. The presentation of the dish was uneven across the various plates at our table.

Jurel al Mole Rojo

Jurel al Mole Rojo

Our fourth course of the evening was a Codorniz rellena, pure de coliflor y zanahoria rostizada presented by Chef Esteban Lluis. The quail was paired with a Syrah from La Carrodilla. The flavor was perfect but the quail was overcooked. If the quail had been cooked to a proper temperature this could have easily been our favorite of the night. The wine selection from Carrodilla was excellent and paired well with the bold flavors of the stuffed quail.

THE VERDICT

The event concluded just after midnight. Overall, we feel it was an event worthy of the ticket price and it was obvious that the guests enjoyed the event. Sadly, the night was destroyed by the inexcusable behavior of the El Cielo staffer who interrogated us about our tickets. It should be noted that El Cielo’s Wine Club Director and Sommelier Andry Nucamendi (whom we have known for years) made her best effort to apologize for the situation we encountered. While we appreciate her efforts, we will likely not return for future events at El Cielo.