I’m not sure how long I’ve known Boris Olvera and Larry Le Mieux. Probably going on ten years.

Over those years, Chef Boris has fed me fine barbacoa, taught me how to make a Veracruzana sauce, and chased after free range chickens with me.

These days, he and his friend Larry are dedicating more of their time to the SMA Wine Society, planning tasting events and marketing a few labels locally. Larry’s emphasis has always been on moderately-priced wines and what he showcased at the latest Wine Society event was no different.

“There’s no shortage of 500 peso plus wines out there”, said Larry, “but what we’re trying to do is provide decent quality wines at the 300 peso level.”

There were four featured wines at that price point at Eso es Italiano Sip ‘n Nibble. The afternoon was hosted by Andrea’s, a cosy little spot on Loreto that’s only been open a couple of months.

It’s very refreshing to see someone launching a new restaurant in this town without spending a million plus pesos and it was a very appropriate venue for the wines that Larry and Boris were showcasing.

Chef Alfonso Carmono started us off with a very traditional smoked salmon tostada topped with capers and lime.

The pairing came from Don Quixote country, La Mancha in Spain. The grape was Verdejo, one I’d heard next to nothing about until around ten years ago because most of the vines went to making sherry. Cal & Canto is a crisp white with hints of citrus and jasmine on the nose. As Pinot Grigios continue to go up in price, this Verdejo makes a great alternative.

The next wine was from another lesser known grape and proof again that staying away from trendy grapes like Chardonnay can get you much better values in a lightly-oaked white. The country of origin was Argentina; the region was Mendoza; the winery was the 100-year-old San Felipe; the grape was Torrontés. Boris Olvera nailed it when he said it had “distinctive peach and apricot on the nose.” Chef Alfonso’s gnocchi was a perfect pairing.

Alfonso Carmono and his wife Lupita moved to San Miguel de Allende this year from Dallas. If you hear someone say, “I just want an old-fashioned, Southern Italian pasta with a red sauce”, send them to Andrea’s; the chef’s got the classics nailed.

For the next Sip ‘n Nibble course, Larry and Boris paired a Mexican Cabernet Sauvignon with Alfonso’s rigatoni.

The 2017 Verdades had the typical blackcurrant aroma and taste of a Cab but was a little too green pepperish for me. I admit to liking reds that are very jammy though and others at the tasting thought this was the star of the show.

My star (shining brightly enough that I bought a case) was the last wine.

Puglia, the heel on Italy’s boot-shaped map is producing some of the world’s best red wine values these days both with Sangioveses and with blends and the wine that went with Andrea’s lamb lasagna was no exception.

“Nicchio is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Primitivo, with a bright ruby color”, said Boris. “It’s smooth on the mouth, has well balanced acidity with nice, ripe blackberries”.

It was the peppery Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) in the blend that won me over. Chef Alfonso surprised us with one more course, his tiramisu, and the Nicchio paired nicely with it as well.

“Besides loving wine and food, one of the reasons for us to create events like these is so we can get together with friends, old and new, and enjoy a shared experience”, said Larry Le Mieux, summing up the day much better than I could.

Andrea’s is located at Calle Loreto #40 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The restaurant is open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 9:00 am to 9:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

All of the wines we enjoyed at Eso es Italiano Sip ‘n Nibble, are still available from the SMA Wine Society. All are priced well below $300 a bottle. Minimum order size is four bottles (you can mix any of the four wines). There is a 10% discount for orders of a case or more. And delivery is available. To order or for more information, email Larry Le Mieux at ljlemieux@aol.com. The next wine SMA Wine Society event will be at Rustica on Salida a Celaya when, on January 15, six wines will be paired with six different courses. Full details will be available soon on the society’s Facebook site that you’ll find here:

https://www.facebook.com/SMA-Wine-Society-399883443813523/

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