Having lunch with a wine maker, and listening to his or her story, about each wine, makes you appreciate it even more, and maybe even add to the deliciousness of the food pairing. It is not too often that we get a wine maker coming up from Argentina, but standing among us media types, was Rodolfo “Opi” Sadler, from La Mascota Vineyards, sipping his sparkling wine and sharing his insights about it. We had this fortunate lunch at the Mission Kitsilano restaurant. Opi is a third generation wine maker, who as a child was said to be sent to the family’s wine cellar to bring wines for their meals. A feature of the cellar is that it featured many nocturnal habitants; bats. If you view any of the wine labels from La Mascota Vineyards, somewhere there will be a figure of a bat, and his biggest wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon, he aptly named “Big Bat”.
As we were in the Mission Kits restaurant, the wines that Opi brought for us to taste, were expertly paired with dishes from the restaurant. The dishes and wine pairings are as follows:
- Beet meringue with blue cheese mousse, paired with the NV Brut sparkling
- Roasted corn, charred onion, and spatzle, paired with OPI Chardonnay
- Confit duck leg with squash and shaved hazelnuts, paired with La Mascota Cabernet Franc
- Smoked and roasted beef bavette, with salsify and vanilla, paired with Unanime
- Cured pork fat, cheddar and truffle, served on artisan bread, paired with Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon
My Wine Notes
La Mascota Vineyards NV Brut (BC $16.99, limited quantities) – 100% Pinot Noir sparkling wine from Argentina, aged on its lees for 12 months, made in the Champenoise style. I don’t see very many sparkling wines from Argentina, and am happy that this one has made its way into BC. It has a deeper pear skin colour. Dry, crisp apple flavour, together with citrus and minerality. Aggressive bubble that becomes creamy in your mouth. As the wine warms up the wine starts to show a sweeter stone fruit profile and biscuit flavours. A quality bubble at a great price. Rating:
La Mascota Vineyards Opi Chardonnay 2014 (BC $14.99) – Medium plus bright lemon in colour. Light intensity nose, with hints of citrus, stone fruit, honey and petrol. Fuller-bodied, round, with light stone fruit, pears and light oak touch. Medium acidity. Some nuttiness as well on the palate. Slightly honeyed. Tasty. Rating:
La Mascota Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2013 (BC $15.99) – Deeper ruby coloured. Lots of ripe purple fruit, plums, vanilla and cedar aromas. Full bodied, dry, with a silky mouth feel. Medium acidity. Sweet ripe purple fruit, some floral, a hint of chocolate and pepper on the finish. Good tannic structure. A bit wine for Cabernet Franc. The favourite wine of all media tasting it at lunch. Rating:
La Mascota Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (BC $16.99) – Medium intensity ripe dark fruit and oak on the nose. Round, fuller bodied with medium mouth-feel. Medium minus acidity. Some dustiness / chalkiness on the palate. Ripe black cherries and cassis fruit. Fine tannins. Would love this wine more if it had a longer length. Rating:
La Mascota Vineyards Shiraz 2014 (BC $15.99) – Opi mentioned that he regrets using the term Shiraz on the bottle, as the wine is more in the restrained Syrah style, which I think is justified based on my tasting notes. Medium translucent garnet colour. Light red fruit and sausage aromas in the glass. Medium bodied, dry and round, with a significant mineral component. Blueberries and red fruit flavours, with some pepperiness coming in the mid palate to the finish. Rating: –
La Mascota Vineyards Malbec 2013 (BC $15.99) – Medium plus garnet colour with a solid core. Lots of red fruit on the nose, together with a light touch of oak, black fruit and tar. Dry with medium plus body and medium tannins. The wine has ripe purple fruit, floral, nutmeg and cloves on the palate along with salty minerality. This is a very good wine, but I think the Cab Franc is just a touch better. Rating: –
La Mascota Vineyards Uniame Grand Vino Tinto Red 2012 (BC $28.99) – An award-winning wine for many years, this vintage is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec, and 15% Cabernet Franc, aged in French oak barrels for 20 months. Deep garnet to the core. Nice nose with ripe dark fruit, cassis, dark chocolate and light vanilla. Full body, round, yet a light mouth feel. Exciting minerality, together with ripe purple fruit, and cinnamon flavours. Firmer tannins. Excellent quality. Rating: –
La Mascota Vineyards Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (BC $61.99) – Opaque ruby coloured. Medium intensity nose, with aromas of ripe black fruit, black cherries, a sweet spice, in particular nutmeg. If you give this wine a chance to breathe, the aromas increase in intensity. Full bodied, round, with a heavier mouth feel and firm tannins. Minerality again, which I love. Sweet ripe fruit, plums, and cassis. Peppery mid palate to the finish together with some chocolate and nutmeg. The tannins increase in intensity to the finish. Truly a big bat! Rating: –
Putting the Wine and Food Together
Beet meringue with blue cheese mousse, paired with the NV Brut sparkling – This dish was truly intriguing. The meringue has a crispness to it, but you also get the creaminess and sharpness from the blue cheese, plus there was a dash of horseradish to make the dish peppery. The horseradish could have been dialed back a bit, which I think would have made the wine pairing work a bit better.
Roasted corn, charred onion, and spatzle, paired with OPI Chardonnay – A very tasty dish that was served in a small cup, and was eaten with a spoon, much like a thick creamy soup. It was indeed creamy, and the corn had some firmness it to. The charred onion stood out and made the dish get noticed. The OPI Chardonnay was a complementary pairing, with the heavier mouth-feel, nuttiness and sweet spice meshing nicely with the flavours of the dish.
Confit duck leg with squash and shaved hazelnuts, paired with La Mascota Cabernet Franc – An excellent dish, with deep dark flavour from the duck along with sweet spices (5 spice powder?). The Cab Franc was an excellent pairing. The meat and spices melted into the flavours of the Cab Franc. The tannins in the wine became softer, and you tasted a lot of purple fruit from the wine.
Smoked and roasted beef bavette, with salsify and vanilla, paired with Unanime – Beef bavette is a grilled (or roasted) flank steak that is sliced on its bias and served with a wine, beef stock, and herb reduction sauce. For our dish, some vanilla was added to the sauce, which I think was to try to add a complementary flavour that comes from toasted oak barrels. Salsify, is not salsa, or a dance; rather a thin root vegetable related to the parsnip. The bavette was cooked medium well, and offered the right amount of chew. I also liked the crust on the edge from roasting, as well as the touch of vanilla with the beef. The lighter, brighter fruit flavours from the Unanime was a complementary pairing to the steak, but I think went much better with the latter dish; the cured pork fat, as the higher acidity, minerality and light mouth feel balanced out the richness and fattiness of the dish.
Cured pork fat, cheddar and truffle, served on artisan bread, paired with Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon – The pork fat had a rich flavour, as there were still bits of pork attached to the fat when it went into the curing process. I like the sharpness and saltiness of the cheddar, adding another dimension to the rich, fattiness from the pork. The richness of this dish paired well with the richness of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The cheese I think also smoothed out the tannins in this wine. But as mentioned, I think the Unanime also worked very well as it had brighter acidity to balance the richness of the pork fat. The Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon was a better pairing to the bavette, as the bavette had deeper, meaty, roasted flavour, which softened the firmer tannins of Big Bat and allowed the fruit flavours to be more prominent. But overall either wine works well.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
The Unanime and La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon are available as general listings through the BC Liquor stores. I believe the other wines are available in limited quantities at various wine shops around the lower mainland. For the upcoming Christmas holiday season, these wines should be a hit.