Russian Ambassador Eduard Rubénovich Malayán and Italian Ambassador Alessandro Busacca were the guests of honor for a presentation luncheon of Deby Beard’s new restaurant and wine bar Nexo in the Polanco neighborhood.
Beard, who is widely recognized as Mexico’s grande dame of wines and spirits and who recently published the second book in her “Seduction and Travels” series (she has already started work on the third text), opened Nexo at the start of the year after having closed her previous establishment (in the same location), Riedel Wine Bar, in early 2015.
The new restaurant is, according to Beard, more focused on food and developing a “nexus” between fine dining and wine appreciation (hence, the name).
“Riedel was all about wine,” she told her guests at the start of the luncheon, “but Nexo focuses on how wine and food can be matched to create a complete culinary experience.”
Without worrying too much about a specific cuisine identity, Nexo offers a combination of Mediterranean and Mexican cookery with an occasional insertion of Asian and Middle Eastern dishes.
“I think in today’s world, all food is fusion food, and we have the advantage of being able to draw on the gastronomic heritages of an entire world of cooking styles, so I don’t really want to limit the menu of Nexo to one type of cuisine,” explained Cesar Vázquez, one of the restaurant’s two executive chefs.
“I prefer to concentrate on preparing healthy and appetizing dishes that embrace all types of cooking styles.”
The presentation luncheon, prepared by Vázquez and Nexo’s other head chef, Diego Niño, was just that — a medley of international dishes carefully selected to showcase three California wines, all from the third-generation Wagner family estates, which were being introduced to the Mexican market.
The meal opened with a selection of black squid ceviche tostadas, smoked beef carpaccio tapas and fried cod cakes, all of which were served with a crisp 2013 Wagner Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay from Napa’s Caymus Vineyards.
The Chardonnay, which had been aged in cement tanks and had an unexpected hint of minerals as a consequence, was fresh and full, with a light sunny color and a delightful burst of fruit, including pineapple, lemon and bitter green apple.
Despite its young age, this wine held its own against the beef tapas, matching its potent flavor taste bud for taste bud, and it also complemented the ceviche tostadas and fried cod cakes, balancing out the fishy taste with tannin-packed citric undertones.
Next up was a Catalan-style steamed black squid rice topped with squid and grilled sausages and crowned with pickled radishes and garlic oil.
This hardy dish was paired with a robust 2011 Rolu blend of tempranillo, nebbiolo and syrah grapes produced in Mexico’s Valle de San Vicente in Baja California by the Wagner family vintner Luis Rodríguez.
Unlike the Silver Chardonnay, this deep garnet-colored wine had an oak pedigree, having spent 16 months in French barrels, giving it more complexity, with a rich nose of prunes and ripe red fruits enhanced with a mouth of spicy black pepper and cloves, closing with a suggestion of cherries and Bulgarian roses.
Although the wine might have been better suited for a beef or veal dish, it was layered enough to adapt to the pungent flavors of the squid rice.
The final wine, a classic 2013 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa that is the Wagner family flagship, was presented with a grilled beef filet with cauliflower purée and sautéed onion and mushrooms escabeche.
This was perhaps the best pairing of the day, with the Caymus only divulging its New World origins as a result of a subtle briny finish.
This full-bodied wine was refined and sophisticated, with a deep dark purple hue and plenty of velvety texture.
Its jammy berry flavor was not overpowered by its stint in a combination of old and new French oak barrels, and it poised well with the filet.
For dessert, there was a sweet lemon curd yogurt tart, which might have been a bit too sweet had it not been served with the remainder of the Caymus, which counterbalanced with its strong tannins.
It’s worth mentioning that all three wines had a high alcoholic content — the Silver Chardonnay had a whopping 15.99 percent alcohol content, and the Rolu and Caymus had a 13.8 and 14.9 percent alcohol content, respectively.
The reason for the spiked alcohol count is that all three were produced from grapes harvested quite late in the season, which also translates into fuller-bodied wines.
Nexo is located at Campos Eliseos 199 in
Polanco (tel: 5281-5903).
It is open Monday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.