From the Series “World Class: Mexican Wine and the Hands who Make it”
Update: Cava Córdova has since launched. Find more about them on their website.
Mexican entrepreneur and winemaker Fernando Farías Córdova followed his love for winemaking all the way from his native Jalisco to Valle de Guadalupe. Impressively, although barely thirty, this young wine and tea sommelier is now making a living out of his passion, and is preparing to release his own wine label.
Sleeping in a cellar awaiting for its 2015 debut, is Cava Córdova GSM. Originally from the southern Rhône Valley, here, this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes is being nurtured to become a wine that is both elegant and approachable.
It is impossible to resist asking an expert how to pair your food. Just in time for the Thanksgiving meal, Farías Córdova gives us tips for every palate:
Look for wines with low acidity and high floral or fruit notes to highlight the flavor of cranberry sauce, such as wines made with Viognier, or Riesling grapes. A Moscato is a great option as long as it is not too sweet; and the butter notes of an oak-aged California Chardonnay would complement rich dishes very well.
Dry, medium-bodied and very fruity wines will offer a refreshing contrast to pair elaborate dishes. Look for wines made with Grenache, Syrah or Carignan grapes
Red wine and turkey? Absolutely. Long gone are the times where poultry was usually only accompanied with white wine. Serve young red wines with notes of red fruit, jam and spices that intensify the flavors of our dishes. Look for Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Malbec or Syrah.
For a night of celebration, chose to pair your pecan pie with a Proseco Brut. Sparkling wines are also a great complement to spicy foods (in case mole or tamales verdes find their way to your table) and, why not, go ahead and pop that bottle of champagne that you were saving for a special occasion. This is one of them.
How do you know what wine is best for you? It is the one you like… and hopefully, it is wine from Valle de Guadalupe.
Stay tuned for an update on the 2015 release of Cava Córdova GSM.
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Originally published on 11-25-14
Under a sky that only a handful of locations in the world can offer (Ensenada’s observatory is the second most important in Latin America), AlXimia’s large, intricate dome-like structure, is a vision out of a sci-fi movie. As we drove by, I was transfixed. I could not help but intermittently think about a mothership and “The Jetsons”.
“Mad scientists,” joked Pasión Biba’s Abel Bibayoff, as we parked right next to the futuristic dome. I can hardly contain my excitement- “We saw this from the road last night!”
Dubbed by the locals “The flying saucer that landed in Valle of Guadalupe” or “The Cathedral of Wine”, the building is an architectural exercise in ingenuity and efficiency. Thought out to showcase water and energy conservation while highlighting the wine-making process, it is clear from our vantage point within this unique circular building, that we have found ourselves in the midst of something quite extraordinary.
At the fulcrum point of art and science, AlXimia really lives up to its name. Backed up by a a group that under one cellar (and immediate family) gathers astronomers, educators, winemakers and even Ivy League mathematicians, it is no wonder why this A-team produces award-winning wine. In fact, Spain’s most reputable and comprehensive wine guide, Guía Peñín, has recently given AlXimia’s Aqua 93 points, the highest score for a Mexican wine, positioning it as “excellent” within the 90-94 point range.
I was particularly fascinated by the concept “Elemental Wine” or “Vino Elemental” explained by Alximia’s winemaker Álvaro Álvarez- a nod to the four elements in nature: air, water, earth and fire. According to the philosophy of the winery, the combination of these four speaks to balance, sustainability, and, maybe more importantly, to the little piece of Valle de Guadalupe that is included in every bottle of AlXimia. Beyond the beauty of the concept, pragmatism- consumers can guide themselves with the elements represented in each wine for pairing purposes. For example, water and fish; air and poultry, and so on and so forth. Brilliant.
While AlXimia’s operation is smart, and innovative, it is also firmly grounded in family, work ethic, and a profound respect for nature. I find it so poetic that the family’s patriarch is an astronomer… these Mexican entrepreneurs are undeniably, stars.
Where to buy: Visit the winery´s online store.
How to get there: Click here to find a map.
Do not miss: La Terrasse San Román by chef Martín San Román, located in the winery’s terrace.
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From the Series “World Class: Mexican Wine and the Hands who Make it”
Photos: Enrico Bellomo/Brenda Storch
I became fascinated by Valle de Guadalupe’s cuisine while following the recent opening of Lozhka Bistrot, a partnership between Pasión Biba’s Abel Bibayoff and celebrated chef José Bossuet. It was not until I spoke with Chef that I realized this prosperous little town, barely two hours south of San Diego, had been colonized by a group of Eastern European immigrants known as Molokans. In the early 1900s, fifty Molokan families fleeing from the Russian Orthodox Church sought refuge in this idyllic town. Serendipitously, while the Mexican government granted the colonizers permission to establish themselves and to own land, the story of Mexican wine found a way to not “die on the vine.”
Aside from tending to grapes and making wine, the new settlers introduced commodities that included geese, beehives, grains, cooking and farming techniques. Molokans forever changed the phenotype of Valle de Guadalupe, including its gastronomy.
Lozhka Bistrot is a brilliant, almost poetic summary of what this town is about- a contemporary, singular take on double the fusion (novo-Hispanic cuisine with Russian influences) where dual identities abound. Visitors of Valle de Guadalupe will be equally delighted with airy Molokan bread, and pan dulce.
At Lozhka, for example, I had the most memorable duck enmoladas. Bossuet explained the protein is a nod to the use of geese favored by Molokan settlers, replacing the more traditional use of chicken in this dish. If you visit Lozhka, Chef recommends pairing this glorious plate with Pasión Biba’s Zinfandel 2010.
During my stay, I heard the story of a lady who makes tamales out of Varenyky dough. I could not confirm whether or not this is just an urban legend, but after all, this is Mexico. Here, anything is possible.
Among a host of delicacies that words will only fall short to describe, I was treated to the most unforgettable compote made with yellow watermelons and freshly-picked tomatoes.
Farm-to-table is Valle de Guadalupe’s bread and butter. Many of the vineyard owners have partnered with well-renowned chefs to offer a complete culinary experience. Thanks to this effort, the collection of elevated eateries in this area is a true gem.
Past and future juxtapose in every detail- Lozhka means ‘spoon’ in Russian and the name of the restaurant is an homage to Abel Bibayoff’s grandfather Alexei, one of the Molokan founders of this town. In the halls of the family’s small museum, where handmade ‘loshkas‘ lie close to a few samovars, we see the next generation of Bibayoffs happily sleeping in a baby carriage.
It is very clear that tradition is a lifestyle for the Bibayoff family- it is tangible matter. It is alive. Viva.
After having the good fortune to be guided (by none other than Abel Bibayoff himself) through the process in which vines are coaxed into grapes and then turned into wine, the name of his label, “Pasión Biba” resonates. This play on words, which phonetically means “live passion”, says it all.
There are years of character, generational zeal and know-how in his wine. Each drop is nurtured, loved, intimately known. If it were possible, each would have a name that over and over again, would translate into ‘passion’. In every drop, Pasión Biba.
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Mexico has been producing wine since the 16th century. Legend tells of Hernán Cortés demanding that grapevines be brought to the Nueva España to be grown after the Spanish wine supply was depleted during the celebration of the defeat of the Mexica empire. In an interesting turn of events, Mexican wine happened to be so good, that the Spanish Crown banned its production other than for liturgical use.
In 1843 Dominican priests from the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Norte mission, discovered that superior quality grapes faired well in the valley’s mediterranean microclimate. Today, 90% of all Mexican wine is produced in this area. Sadly, not many Mexicans drink it.
We are back from a visit to what is known today as Valle de Guadalupe, México’s wine country. We were drawn by Lozhka Bistrot, the most recent project by beloved Mexican gastronome Chef José Bossuet, and Pasión Biba’s Abel Bibayoff. Our gracious hosts delighted us with a tour featuring a variety of wineries where the production ranges from artisanal to massive.
The time we spent with the winemakers left a lasting impression- a shapshot of the Mexico only a few have a chance to palate. From mathematicians, to astronomers, enologists, plastic artists and restaurateurs, the people behind the wine that is produced in Valle de Guadalupe explains why this wine is so extraordinary. Here, passion runs deep, as does a profound, almost spiritual commitment to making the best wine. Every time.
In the upcoming weeks we will be writing a series based on our experience at each winery: Pasión Biba/Bibayoff, Alximia, Torres Alegre and Las Nubes. This is our humble tribute to remarkable wine and to the hands who make it.
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