Flavor Favorites: ARTsmart’s Edible Art Tour & Vintage Albuquerque

Two premier events for foodies in June—we couldn’t possibly choose one over the other! So here you have it, two local New Mexico favorites—ARTfeast Santa Fe and Vintage Albuquerque. 

Summertime is intrinsically bound to childhood. It’s a time when school is out and families take vacations; it’s a time when children spend endless hours playing in the clear, sharp light and the enveloping heat of the outdoors; it’s a time of imagination and exploration, emancipation and fun. For adults, of course, summer can be a time of nostalgia and longing—alas, we never really escape the sweet ideal of summertime’s vast, beach-like expanse of freedom. But it’s June now, after all, and who says adults can’t have a little fun? This month heralds in two delectable warm-weather treats, created for adults and benefiting kids—true libations to the child summoned forth by summer breezes who lives in all of us, no matter our age.Art Smart EAT

In Santa Fe, ARTsmart New Mexico, which in the past has held its ARTfeast Edible Art Tour in the chill of February, takes over downtown and Canyon Road galleries for a true tribute to the arts, both culinary and visual. Down in the Que, Vintage Albuquerque brings us topnotch vintners from the U.S. and abroad—as well as our finest local chefs-—for four days of delectable food, drink and merriment in support of arts education in New Mexico. We’re thrilled to see the visual and culinary arts united for such an important cause in our beautiful state. Here’s to food, wine, art and the child of summer in all of us!

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Ask the Pros: Summer Wine Picks

LocalFlavor-summerwine-stripJune has finally arrived! It’s time to reset our internal thermostats and it’s time to reset our wine choices. Start by using adjectives like “crisp,” “lean” and “rosé” to describe what wines you’re thirsting for and start thinking salads, veggies from the garden, and outdoor grilling for your menus. The next thing to do is to head out to a local wine shop to stock up for summer. In Santa Fe, get ready for some eclectic and adventurous recommendations—the independent retailers of the City Different have a different take on the world of wine and their choices rarely include what can be found in the larger chain stores.

Our first retailer owns what is probably the longest standing andestablished store in town—Kokoman Fine Wine and Liquor. Keith Obermaier opened his shop in Pojoaque in 1981, which gives him a rare level of experience providing fine wine to Santa Fe customers. The store’s location also puts him in a unique position to serve customers in Los Alamos and Taos. Keith starts honestly with, “This building scares people off, so we make up for it with better prices.” He likes to carry wines that are organic, biodynamic and from smaller producers. The store will show these wines, and more, during its busy Saturday tastings. “Yes, we carry the classic wines of Europe and have even been cellaring many examples of those wines over the years before selling them. We have even been contacted by other retailers checking to see if we have older vintages for their customers.”

Turning to our mission of stocking our summer cellar, Keith suggests: “In the $20 or less category, Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir is a delicious dry Rosé that has so much going for it. It is rare and allocated so grab this wine while you can.” (Geek alert: The term gris is used to indicate a “gray” wine in France and the U.S., since it is halfway between “black” and “white.” Pinot Noir is a “black,” or dark-skinned, grape and short fermentation of its juice on the skins gives it a “gray,” or pale rose, color.) Keith also recommends Round Pond Napa Sauvignon Blanc because “they harvest the grapes for this wine twice: once, early for acidity, and the second time, later for fruit and viscosity.” This is a different style of Napa Sauvignon Blanc, a little more floral and rich, showing body and complexity. Every year, Wine Spectator lists its Top 100 Wines and Round Pond Sauvignon Blanc made the grade this year. Continue reading

Underappreciated Wines: Curious 2

Summer is sequels. It worked once, why not take it out for another spin around the blockbuster. “Furious” how many? While this isn’t about Vin Diesel, it is a sequel on “vin.” In our February issue, we published “Curious Pleasures,” a valentine to wine varieties that don’t get a lot of love, the redheaded stepchildren like Merlot, Chablis, Beaujolais, Riesling—wines we pass by in lieu of standard favorites. The wines below aren’t meant to replace or change our cup of tea, rather to invigorate discovery. In vino veritas, they say, and, if truth be told, we didn’t finish the job, so here it is: “Curious 2.”

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Renaissance at Black Mesa Winery

Photo compliments of Black Mesa Winery

Photo compliments of Black Mesa Winery

We make a strong effort to follow the new wineries that sprout up in New Mexico from time to time. In 1984, retired Denver dentist Gary Anderson and his wife, Connie, founded Black Mesa Winery in Velarde. I tried their first few wines, was rather underwhelmed, and pretty much wrote them off. In 2000, Jerry and Lynda Burd bought Black Mesa from the Andersons as a career to follow retirement. Over the last decade, I’ve occasionally tried their wines and thought them better than I recalled, especially the Viognier. But still, I sort of ignored Black Mesa. As a high-level wine connoisseur (sniff, sniff), I have trouble taking a winery seriously that makes a chocolate-infused wine. Or so I thought … Continue reading

2015 James Beard Finalists Announced!

The finalists for the 2015 James Beard Awards—largely considered the Oscars of the food world—have been announced, and we could not be more proud that two of our local stars in the culinary community have made the list.

Photo compliments of Del Maguey

Photo compliments of Del Maguey

Ron Cooper of Del Maguey Single Village Mescal in Ranchos de Taos has been nominated for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional. He is up against four other individuals from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (DE), Littorai Wines (CA), Mina Group (CA) and Buffalo Trace Distillery (KY). Congratulations! We wish you the best of luck.



Photo by Gabriella Marks

Photo by Gabriella Marks

Martín Rios of Restaurant Martín in Santa Fe has been nominated for Best Chef Southwest alongside five other of the region’s most talented chefs: Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s (AZ), Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue (TX), Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine (TX), Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s (TX) and Justin Yu of Oxheart (TX). We are thrilled to have you in our local community—best of luck!



Thank you both for putting New Mexico on the map!

Somms on the Rise

Graciela Gonzalez of Restaurant Martin, Andrew Roy of Il Piatto and Mary Frances Cheeseman of La Casa Sena photo by: Stephen Lang

Graciela Gonzalez of Restaurant Martin, Andrew Roy of Il Piatto and Mary Frances Cheeseman of La Casa Sena
photo by: Stephen Lang

Santa Fe may be small but our culinary scene is thriving. Behind this success is a dedicated group of beverage professionals committed to maintaining high standards for wine, cocktails and service throughout our city. These are the sommeliers and mixologists writing your favorite restaurant’s wine list or mixing your drink at the bar. While some have been at it for years, others are just beginning their careers and a few are on the path to become certified sommeliers. These young beverage professionals are excited about what’s new in the world of wine and cocktails, but they’re not just looking to other cities for trends—they’re setting trends themselves. In anticipation of the New Year, I spoke to a few of Santa Fe’s up-and-coming sommeliers about what they’re excited to drink in 2015. Continue reading