Tag Archives: Mexican Wine

Alximia Winery of Baja California #HispanicHeritageMonth

8 Oct

If you grew up in Southern California, chances are you spent at least one spring break weekend terrorizing the Baja California town of Ensenada with your frat brothers (or sorority sisters). What you may not have realized then is that Ensenada is an intellectual center and home to the Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexico, where winemaker Alvaro Alvarez studied physics.

Alvarez went on to pursue a master’s in math at UC Santa Cruz. As if studying permutations and number theory weren’t enough, he decided to do a little microbrewing on the side. Fast-forward to today, and Alvarez and his astronomer father are at the helm of Alximia (pronounced al-SHEE-mee-uh) Vino Elemental in Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley.

‘Alximia’ is inspired by the Spanish word for alchemy, and if you visit Alximia, you’ll swear some otherworldly force transported the spaceship-like winery from a galaxy far away and planted it among the vineyards.

Image courtesy of AlXimia Vino Elemental

Image courtesy of AlXimia Vino Elemental

As if by magic, Alximia came to my neck of the woods in the form of Manuel Alvarez, Alvaro’s younger brother and the man who does the marketing for the family winery here in the U.S. Manuel was kind enough to arrange a private tasting of five of Alximia’s wines.

Manuel Alvarez and his family's wines.

Manuel Alvarez and his family’s wines.

We got all Salma Hayak and chose Lebanese food to pair with Mexican wines. As evidenced by Salma, the Mexican-Lebanese combo works. All of the wines I tasted were made with red varietals, which pair beautifully with traditional Lebanese dishes including lamb kabobs, eggplant and tomato spreads, and yes, hummus.

And because the wines are literally the product of a rocket scientist, it only makes sense that each is named after an element. By design, the food pairings for each wine relate to their respective element:

Alximia wines

Aura (now Aqua): Made from a blend of Petit Verdot, Zinfandel and Grenache, this wine is aged 12 months in French oak. And because the element is water, Manuel suggests pairing it with seafood.

Libis: The element is air. A blend of Petit Verdot, Zinfandel and Syrah, this wine pairs well with airborne comestibles such as chicken and duck.

Gaia: Named for the Earth goddess, this special edition wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Syrah. I loved the violet aromas. This earthy wine pairs well with beef, pork and lamb.

Pira: Pira represents fire, and it’s 100 percent Barbera. Manuel recommends pairing it with meat that has been barbecued over an open flame.

Magma: You science geeks will know that magma is the blend of molten rocks and solids beneath the Earth’s surface. The wine is a less searing blend of Carignan and Grenache. With jammy plum aromas and a hint of chocolate, you can enjoy it with gamier meat such as venison and goat.

Alximia-Pouring

Stateside, you can find Alximia Vino Elemental at Whole Foods Market. If you’d rather have the full experience, visit the winery as part of a Guadalupe Valley wine road trip. Pocket protectors optional.

Raise a glass of #vino to #HispanicHeritageMonth

2 Oct

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month darlings, and to celebrate the occasion, I invite you to experience a taste of the Hispanic influence on the wine industry. This post originally appeared three years ago when I attended my second East LA Meets Napa event, a charity-oriented celebration of the Latino community’s contributions to food and wine in Los Angeles.

So pour yourself a hearty glass of Mexican Cabernet Sauvignon from Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley, and stay tuned for more stories about Hispanics and vino in the next couple of weeks.

Wines from Mexican-American winemakers were featured at this year's East LA Meets Napa food and wine celebration.

Wines from Mexican-American winemakers were featured at this year’s East LA Meets Napa food and wine celebration.

On a balmy evening I strolled through L.A.’s Union Station to the charanga beat of José Rizo’s all-star jazz band, Monograma, a wine glass in one hand, a plate of food from the area’s finest Latin American restaurants in the other. This, chicas y chicos, is living.

Vanessa Robledo, president and managing partner of Black Coyote Wines, at this year's East LA Meets Napa.

Vanessa Robledo, president and managing partner of Black Coyote Wines, at this year’s East LA Meets Napa.

About 30 wineries were represented at this year’s East L.A. Meets Napa, some of them Latina-owned and operated. Ladies, if you’ve ever dreamed of getting into the wine business, there’s no better place to get a little inspiración. Vanessa Robledo started working in her family’s vineyard when she was 8 years old. Today, she’s president and managing partner of Black Coyote Wines.

Gustavo Brambila was on hand to talk about his wines at this year's event.

Gustavo Brambila was on hand to talk about his wines at this year’s event.

Speaking of inspiration, Gustavo Brambila of GustavoThrace attended this year’s event. Brambila is one of the first Latinos to earn a degree from the prestigious viticulture and enology program at UC Davis. In 1976, the winery where he worked put California wines on the map when its Chardonnay scored higher than a French wine at an international competition in Paris. Brambila was not directly involved in the competition, but actor Freddy Rodriguez played him in the 2008 film, Bottle Shock, based on the historic event.

¡Salud!

¡Salud!

To come full circle, this year’s tasting held one more reason to be proud of things hecho en México. A certain winery from Coahuila, Mexico made the journey to L.A. Established in 1597, Casa Madero is the oldest winery in the Americas. Still going strong after 415 years, the winery gives Mexico a significant place in the history of wine.

So raise a glass to Hispanic Heritage Month and to the contributions that Latinos and Latinas through the centuries have made to the wine industry, enhancing our ability to get more SABOR out of life. ¡Salud!

Alximia Winery of Baja California – it’s rocket science

19 Jun

If you grew up in Southern California, chances are you spent at least one spring break weekend terrorizing the Baja California town of Ensenada with your frat brothers (or sorority sisters). What you may not have realized then is that Ensenada is an intellectual center and home to the Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexico, where winemaker Alvaro Alvarez studied physics.

Alvarez went on to pursue a master’s in math at UC Santa Cruz. As if studying permutations and number theory weren’t enough, he decided to do a little microbrewing on the side. Fast-forward to today, and Alvarez and his astronomer father are at the helm of Alximia (pronounced al-SHEE-mee-uh) Vino Elemental in Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley.

‘Alximia’ is inspired by the Spanish word for alchemy, and if you visit Alximia, you’ll swear some otherworldly force transported the spaceship-like winery from a galaxy far away and planted it among the vineyards.

Image courtesy of AlXimia Vino Elemental

Image courtesy of AlXimia Vino Elemental

As if by magic, Alximia came to my neck of the woods in the form of Manuel Alvarez, Alvaro’s younger brother and the man who does the marketing for the family winery here in the U.S. Manuel was kind enough to arrange a private tasting of five of Alximia’s wines.

Manuel Alvarez and his family's wines.

Manuel Alvarez and his family’s wines.

We got all Salma Hayak and chose Lebanese food to pair with Mexican wines. As evidenced by Salma, the Mexican-Lebanese combo works.  All of the wines I tasted were made with red varietals, which pair beautifully with traditional Lebanese dishes including lamb kabobs, eggplant and tomato spreads, and yes, hummus.

And because the wines are literally the product of a rocket scientist, it only makes sense that each is named after an element. By design, the food pairings for each wine relate to their respective element:

Alximia wines

Aura (now Aqua): Made from a blend of Petit Verdot, Zinfandel and Grenache, this wine is aged 12 months in French oak. And because the element is water, Manuel suggests pairing it with seafood.

Libis: The element is air. A blend of Petit Verdot, Zinfandel and Syrah, this wine pairs well with airborne comestibles such as chicken and duck.

Gaia: Named for the Earth goddess, this special edition wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Syrah. I loved the violet aromas. This earthy wine pairs well with beef, pork and lamb.

Pira: Pira represents fire, and it’s 100 percent Barbera. Manuel recommends pairing it with meat that has been barbecued over an open flame.

Magma: You science geeks will know that magma is the blend of molten rocks and solids beneath the Earth’s surface. The wine is a less searing blend of Carignan and  Grenache. With jammy plum aromas and a hint of chocolate,  you can enjoy it with gamier meat such as venison and goat.

Alximia-Pouring

Stateside, you can find Alximia Vino Elemental at Whole Foods Market. If you’d rather have the full experience, visit the winery as part of a Guadalupe Valley wine road trip.  Pocket protectors optional.

 

 

 

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