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The Food and Wine Festival in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo 2012 preview tasting event in Vancouver

Mexican wine, mezcal and tequila tasting event.  

Photos by TLMacdonald Photography

The Sips South of the Border tasting event, held Thursday, February 9, at YEW Restaurant & Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, was the perfect preview of The Food and Wine Festival which is set to be hosted in beautiful Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico from March 22-24, 2012. 

Photos by TLMacdonald Photography

Mexico may be best known for their flavorful cuisine and alcoholic beverages like Corona and of course, tequila. However, after being treated to some amazing wines from Bodegas Santo Tomas and Mariatinto vineyards, its clear to see that Mexico is also making a name for itself through its emerging wine industry. 


Wine, Mezcal and Tequila tasting

The night started off with a sampling of some delicious appetizers and a glass of ‘bubbles’, before we were seated and introduced to the evening’s host, Mark Oldman. 

Some yummy nibbles to start off the evening

 Mark Oldman is wine and drink’s expert and author of Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine, George Duboeuf’s wine book of the year. Known for encouraging his audiences to “drink bravely”, Oldman believes that the less obvious wine varieties, or rather the “new frontier of wines”, can often be the most satisfying. We couldn't have been in better hands.

Mark Oldman author of Oldman's Brave New World of Wine hosted the tasting event

Our first offering was a Sauvignon Blanc from Bodegas Santo Tomas. Founded in 1888, Bodegas Santo Tomas is Mexico's oldest continuously operating winery and its best-known producer. Located in the heart of Mexican wine country near Ensenada on the Baja California Peninsula, it possesses the ideal Mediterranean climate, making it perfect for wine growing. My first taste of Mexican wine certainly did not disappoint. It was pale yellow in colour and typically fruity on the nose, with hints of citrus and tropical fruits on the palate. 

We then moved on to a red blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Syrah from Mariatinto which is situated in the Guadalupe Valley. Although only a medium body wine, I was blown away by its wide array of flavors. Mark Oldman described this blend as "a beautiful balanced wine which was like a soup, with complexity”. 


Mark Oldman sharing his love of mexican wine, mezcal and tequila

Our wine journey finished with two further samplings, the first from Bodegas Santo Tomas, (a Cabernet Sauvignon), and the second from Xaloc Reserva (100% Tempranillo). These four wines offered only an introduction to Mexico’s wine industry but certainly left us wanting more. However, the night was not yet done.


4 glasses of wine, 1 tequila and 1 mezcal = a great tasting at Yew Restaurant and Bar for the preview of the Food and Wine Festival in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

When a glass of Partida Tequila and of Zacbe Mezcal appeared in front of us I was suddenly scared - after four wines we are now going to do shooters? I can’t say I have ever done a wine tasting in which there were two spirits to greet me at the finish line. No shots here though. Instead, the drinks were sipped and savored, swirled about the mouth like the finest of wines. Mezcal, once thought by some to be the country cousin of tequilas, has in recent years gone from "peasant to hipster”, according to Oldman.

I must say I found the tequila more to my liking, though rather than for shooting, this tequila was for sipping. Slightly chilled and served in small snifter glasses, Oldman couldn't have said it better when he stated that, regardless of the form, “there’s something about tequila that amps you just makes people happy”. 

If you have been thinking of where to take that March vacation, you might just want to think about visiting and making your way to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. Celebrity chefs Michael Symon and Marcus Samuelsson along with expert Mark Oldman, will all be on hand to guide you through an authentic exploration of local flavours. If that’s not enough, the 340 days of sun per year and stunning tropical coastline will also be there waiting. 

Event details:

The Food and Wine Festival in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Mexico

March 22-24 2012

For more information please visit:




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