Let’s just go ahead and say it, Vintage Albuquerque ages like wine. Now, in its 25th year, the beloved Duke City event brings together local chefs and vintners from around the US, abroad and of course, right here in New Mexico. The highly anticipated celebration of food and wine, held June 22-26, celebrates and benefits New Mexico arts education programs as it dishes out world-class cuisine and wine.
This year’s wine-week begins with an opening gala in celebration of the wines from Caymus Vineyards. The evening, held at Hotel Andaluz, features Chuck Wagner, who says, “Even at Caymus, our approach to producing our top wine has evolved considerably. From the days of me by my Father’s side punching down fermenters with the simple goal of making a good wine that would sell, to today using some of those same techniques with the goal to make a top wine of our Valley. By luck I grew up in the Rutherford farmland with grapes and prunes surrounding our farmhouse.” Renowned guest chef Martín Rios of Restaurant Martín creates an exclusive five-course menu to be specially paired with five select wines from Caymus Vineyards. Martín Rios, native of Guadalajara and beloved Santa Fe chef, received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America and serves up award-winning, progressive American cuisine at his City Different restaurant. The evening is a not-to-be-missed intimate taste of the best of what both a premiere vineyard and a world-class chef have to offer.
The following day brings with it a Caymus Wine Seminar at 11 a.m.—a unique perspective on California wines, hosted by special guest of honor Chuck Wagner. That evening, at 7 p.m., an assortment of local, independently owned restaurants join Vintage Albuquerque at their separate locations to create the beloved Winemaker Dinners. The evening is a celebration of flavors, texture, aroma and presentation, as each chef creates a specialized dinner menu based on wines provided by the vineyard the restaurant is paired with. The restaurants have all priced the dinners at $95. The difficulty, of course, is in the choosing.
This year, Artichoke Café pairs with Marietta Cellars; Elaine’s with Vina Cobos and Pulenta Estate of Medoza, Argentina; Farm & Table partners with Bodega Paniza of Carinena, Spain; Marcello’s Chophouse works with Napa Cabernets of Majestic Wines; M’Tucci’s Italian pairs with Banfi Vintners; Farina Alto with Browne Family Vineyards; Savoy works with Wilson Daniels; Seasons and Roger Roessler Wines unite; and Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro pair with Rombauer Vineyards.
But the place to sip, taste and see and be seen is held on Friday at the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. There, over 30 wineries come together outdoors to pour over 100 wines, as local restaurants dish out delicious appetizers to pair with myriad libations. If there’s one event not to miss, it’s this mouthwatering culinary extravaganza that features the big names of the local culinary scene, showcasing the best in their trade.
At the Big Event on Saturday, the wine flows freely and an auction of high-end wine, trips, art and more gives us all an excuse to benefit arts education…and of course, to do a little shopping. The event takes place at the Albuquerque Country Club, where the wallets will open as benefactors make their bids.
Vintage has, over the years, raised more than three million dollars in support of arts education in the Land of Enchantment. The annual event has been such a hit that, this year, they’ve added a fifth day. So, on Sunday, start off the day with a glass of bubbly—or four. Farm & Table’s executive chef pairs four successive plates with four unique sparkling wines from around the world.
This year, the Vintage events benefit the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program, Art in the School, New Mexico Jazz Workshop, National Dance Institute and New Mexico Philharmonic. Whether you love wine, food, art or children, this is the event for you—salut!
For tickets or more information about Vintage Albuquerque, visit vintagealbuquerque.org or call 505.323.3915.
Story by Mia Rose Poris