A few weeks ago, I asked Karla Rosales Bravo of Vinos + Tapas whose wine she would most like to showcase at the San Miguel de Allende restaurant.
“It would be Maseosare”, said Karla, holding up a bottle, “I think they’re one of the best little wineries in Mexico.”
On February 8, Karla’s wish will come true. Arturo Garcia Torres, the owner and vintner at Maseosare is coming to San Miguel, pairing his wines with dishes prepared by Vinos y Tapas resident chef Stefania Chavez plus dishes by visiting chef Tomás Eduardo Herrera Arellano from Oaxaca plus dishes they’ll be preparing together.
I had never tasted a single wine from Maseosare so, last week, I sampled a bottle of each of the four wines that will be featured so that I could give you (and I) a sneak preview.
Combining two distinctive French grapes that, historically, have always stood on their own and rarely been featured in blends, I consider a very bold move. But that’s what Arturo Garcia Torres has done with Maseosare Blanco Ensamble. The wine is 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Chardonnay and, before my first taste, I was afraid that each grape’s distinctive properties might be lost rather than enhanced by combining them. Would the grassy/citrus notes of the Sauvignon and the mineral/tropical fruit notes of the Chardonnay work in harmony?
They did. They do. Maseosare Blanco has a nice freshness with hints of grapefruit and fig. It should make an excellent partner for the gravlax it will be accompanying. Chef Stefi cures her own for at least three days with a couple of unusual ingredients: tunas (the kind that grow on cactus, not swim in the ocean) and beets.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel grapes were rarely paired in the past. Then, about ten years ago, in Northern California, E. & J. Gallo began doing it to great commercial success.
There are a lot of similarities between Northern California and the Valle de Guadalupe in Mexico’s Baja California where Maseosare’s grapes are grown, both in the terrain and in the salty breezes that blow from the Pacific.
With Maseosare Joven, Arturo Garcia Torres adds a little Mouvedre to the Cab and Zin, then lets the grapes speak for themselves, with no barrel aging, allowing their full fruit qualities to come through. It’s my kind of wine with lots of freshness and berry tastes. It’s a favorite of Stefi Chavez as well.
“I really, really like it”, Stefi told me, “particularly when you consider the price.” (She has it on Vinos + Tapas regular wine list at $410 a bottle.)
Maseosare Joven would make a perfect pasta wine and I’m already looking forward to tasting it with the dumplings formed with fresh Requeson cheese from a local farm that guest chef Tomás Eduardo Herrera Arellano is planning.
Tom Herrera is originally from Durango and studied food biochemistry at the Technology Institute there before completing his culinary education at the University of Veracruz.
“I firmly believe in our ingredients and our cuisine so much that I decided to move to Oaxaca to expand my knowledge and create my own style as an author’s kitchen”, said Tom.
The third wine in Vinos + Tapas pairing dinner is Maseosare Crianza. It combines five different grapes – Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Barbera and Tempranillo.
As I smelled and then tasted it, I thought what grapes would I think was in the wine if I didn’t know. I didn’t have an answer but I did like what I was tasting. There were aromas of cherries and blackcurrants plus a little prunes and tobacco from the few months the wine spent in oak barrels. I thought the Crianza might be a bit “much” for the catch of the day that Stefi Chavez and Tom Herrera were planning to serve it with but when she told me the fish would be topped with a caponato sauce and its rich tastes of eggplant, celery and capers, I realized it would be ideal.
In his Twitter profile, Arturo Garcia Torres describes himself as entrepreneur, Mescal and wine lover, producer, private investor, coach, golf player, vintager, runner and former banker. I’d suggest he might also add gambler considering his decision to make Carignan the sole grape in Maseosare’s flagship Reserva.
Carignan has had a checkered life. Thanks to its large yield, it was the most planted grape in France during the late 20th Century not to mention the grape that often went into those gallon jugs with finger loops from California that still find their way onto the shelves of some Mexican supermarkets. Historically though, Carignan was and still is part of the blend of some of Spain’s most highly respected Riojas. And these days, Carignan is an important wine in the Catalunia region of Spain, across the border to the northeast in the south of France, and, perhaps soon, in the Valle de Guadalupe.
The vines that Maseosare are using go back about 40 years resulting in a wine of deep red color, a spicy nose with wood shavings and freshly cracked nuts, and a taste of raspberries. It should be ideal for the slow roasted ribs with corn salad and, if diners can resist drinking it all, will also be a nice match for the napoleon being made from the Oaxacan chocolate that Tom Herrera is bringing up with him.
“I love the Carignan”, Stefi told me. “It has good body and good nose. It pairs well with so many things but I could just drink it all by itself…the whole bottle.”
Vinos + Tapas is slowly but surely gaining a reputation as one of the very best places to sample Mexican wines, many of them unavailable in any other San Miguel de Allende restaurants. “One Night In Baja” will give us the opportunity to taste four from, if not “one of the best little wineries in Mexico”, certainly one of the better ones.
The night of the event is February 8. Start time is 7:00 pm. Vinos + Tapas is located at Insurgentes #63 in San Miguel de Allende. The price of the five course dinner with four matching wines is a very reasonable $950 considering the cost of the wines (a bottle of the Carignan alone is regularly priced higher than that).
To make reservations, send an email to Ventas@vinosmastapas.com and please be aware that these wine-pairing dinners usually sell out very quickly…and I just reserved two of those chairs. You will receive a return email acknowledging your reservation or regrets if the event is already sold out. Hope I see you there.