Cavas Valmar is a Baja Califonia winery producing just 15,000 cases a year. I have wanted to try their Chenin Blanc since hearing about it and recently, I got a chance.
I like to drink wine, usually red wine, and a lot of it on occasion, but I not by any means an expert and tend to look more for new, interesting and affordable options than spend big bucks on highly rated selections. I like white wine as well and find it the perfect thing to drink on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, sitting on my balcony overlooking the tree-lined walkway of Calle Mazatlan. Yesterday, I invited two friends over to enjoy the afternoon with me and taste some wine.
Recently, I have become friendly with one of the women who works in this great Asian grocery store in the Zona Rosa where I buy a lot of Asian cooking supplies. I mentioned that there were no good dumplings to be found in Mexico and she told me that she makes them and to let her know the next time I wanted some. So last week, I asked about them and she had two packages ready for me when I stopped by on Friday.
To go with the wines, I steamed the dumplings and served them with a 50/50 mixture of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. I also steamed a chicken breast, and served it sliced and cold with soy sauce and sesame oil with a dipping sauce of ginger and scallions.
The first wine we tried was a Valmar 2001 Chenin Blanc to go with the dumplings. I thought maybe the vinegar in the dipping sauce would overpower or distort the tasting, but it didn’t seem to alter the taste at all. The wine was clean, dry with good acidity and aromas of pear, apples and peaches. I found the bold, yellow color to be a bit peculiar but one of my friends found it very appealing. Overall, we thought this was a very good wine, especially considering the $150 peso price.
Maybe 15 years ago, Wolfgang Puck opened a Spago in Mexico City, where I would spend many Friday afternoons with friends, eating smoked salmon pizza and drinking outrageously overpriced Monte Xanic chardonnay. A card carrying member of the ABC club (Anything But Chardonnay), I never cared for it much, but my friends did, so I went along for the ride, which frequently lasted well into the late evening. Spago closed after a couple of years and I probably haven’t had any Monte Xanic chardonnay (or anything else from the winery) since. But I was looking for another similarly priced Baja wine to taste with the Valmar and happened on a Monte Xanic 2007 Sauvignon Blanc for $130 pesos, so I thought I would give it a try. It went well with the cold chicken; light, dry with a strong aroma of pineapple and pear.
Between the two, we agreed the winner was the Valmar, although I would drink both again without hesitation, especially considering the price. The pork and vegetable filled dumplings were great and I will be buying them regularly. Next time, I may make this simple version of Spago’s pizza to go with the Monte Xanic...just for a stroll down memory lane.
Mexico City Smoked Salmon Pizza
-1 large flour torilla (8”)
-4 tbsp. crema or creme fraiche
-1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
-1 tbsp. capers, preferably salt packed
-4-6 oz. smoked salmon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the cream in a thin layer over the tortilla, then add the sliced onion and capers. Top with salmon. Bake for 10-12 minutes until tortilla is crisp around the edges. Cut into 4 slices and serve.