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Summer Tequila Tasting at The San Antonio Winery

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Post by Greg Thompson/Special to LAist

Los Angeles' only working winery, with its mediterranean/mission architecture was the perfect setting for a tasting of Super Premium Tequilas matched with 6 courses de Nueva Cucina on June 19.

San Antonio Winery was founded in 1917 by Santo Cambianica. It is still owned and run by his nephew Stephano Riboli, wife Maddalena and children Santo, Cathy and Steve as well as Santo's son, Anthony.

The historic restaurant at the San Antonio Winery still lovingly serves Mama Maddalena's traditional recipes straight from her home kitchen. With the first course of corn and pasilla custard with corn shoots and grilled cactus, it was clear that this was not their everyday ravioli (which is not to knock the ravioli; it is hand-rolled after all).

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The first taste was 7 Leguas Blanco. Many thought that was 7 lenguas, meaning 7 tongues and maybe had to do with the complex flavors. It actually means 7 Leagues and was named after Pancho Villa's Horse. Casa 7 Leguas has been making full bodied spirits using traditional processes since 1952.

The tasting also included an education in tequila production. In the fields of Mexico, the blue agave pinas are cut, sampled, split then slowy cooked in brick ovens to ensure a dark brown intensely sweet wort. This is extracted in a traditional stone mill still driven by mules, then concentrated in vats for fermentation. The fermented wort is distilled in traditional copper stills and aged under the supervision of the Mexican Tequila Council then filtered and diluted to the allowed Norm for each Tequila category.

The Blanco is aged without oak then bottled under strict quality standards. This gives it brilliant silvery hues, powerful body, nuances of perfect distillation with the subtle aromas and complex taste of slow cooked agave.

The next Blanco, Patron Silver's crystal clear color & fresh smooth taste make it the #1 Ultra Premium in the world. Produced blending traditional techniques and modern technology in state of the art facilities founded in 1989. Almost worshipped in California, it doesn't sell in Mexico, where throats and palates seasoned with hot chile prefer the more complex, even harsh tequilas.

The Don Julio Reposado and 7 Lenguas Anejo were paired with a Mazatlan Red Snapper Ceviche that was bright with lime and cilantro. Don Julio Reposado is aged in American White oak Barrels for 8 months. Straw in color, it emits an aroma of mellow lemon and spice with apricot notes. The flavor is smooth and mellow with an essence of spices.

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7 Leguas Anejo is aged for 24 months. Luminous yellow hues with gold reflections. Scents of slow cooked agave delicate oak notes. Full aroma and flavor from maturing in oak.

Smoked Panella Cheese with Farmers Market Heirloom Tomatoes paired nicely with Jose Cuervo Anejo Reserva de la Familia: Introduced in 1995 upon the 200th anniversary of the leading Tequila producer. Each bottle is hand made, numbered and sealed in wax. This Extra-Anejo is aged an average 3 years in oak. Includes reserves from Tequila aged over 30 years. Produced from only only the most flavorful inner part of the finest hand selected 10 year old agaves. The result is a full mellow flavor with floral, agave, vanilla and cognac notes.

Fried Avocado was served with L.A. Cetto Zinfandel 2003, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California: Aged 6 months in French Oak Barrels and 6 months in bottle. Lively Ruby color, intense fruity aromas of raspberries, blackberrries and cassis. Great fruit, classic Zin flavor and character!

The main course, a generous portion of Grilled marinated Tenderloin of Beef was matched with an L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo 2003, Private Reserve Valle de Guadalupe: 14 months in French Oak, 24 months in the bottle. The Cetto family very successfully introduced Italy's Noble Piemontese grape to Mexico. Intense ruby color with brilliant glints of garnet and shades of purple/violet on the edge. Aromas of ripe red and black fruit, hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. Rich fruit flavors giving way to classic truffle, tobacco and leather. Round with good tannin structure.

L.A. Cetto wines are produced by Louis Alberto Cetto, 3rd generation family member. The tradition of producing fine Italian style wines in the Ensenada area of Guadalupe Valley was begun in 1928 by Don Angelo Cetto. The largest winery in Latin America, sold in 27 international markets.

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The grand finale, Cinnamon Churros with Bitter Chocolate convinced everyone they had room for just one more course. Along with the 1921 Crema de Tequila, which combines smooth cream with the aroma of agave, a taste of tequila and a hint of coffee it was the perfect finish. Creamy and sweet, the Crema de Tequila had a rich consistency and flavor. Poured in the Mediterranean coffee, it was a heavenly finish to a divine culinary experience.

Elise Thompson contributed to this post

Previously on LAist: Happy 90th to The San Antonio Winery. San Antonio Winery's 90th Anniversary, Maddalena's Restaurant