Raising a glass to Mexico
New Zealand is about to get its first taste of the mezcal bar trend currently sweeping the globe with the opening of La Fuente Wine & Mezcal in Auckland’s Snickel Lane.
Following on from a successful pop-up in Britomart last year, La Fuente Wine & Mezcal opened its doors as a permanent establishment on November 14 and offers a mix of wines (including natural, traditional and exceptional vintages) alongside artisan mezcal – a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the agave (or maguey) plant – and delicious, Mexican-inspired dishes.
Owned and operated by Mexican-born sommelier Edmundo Farrera, whose career spans more than two decades, La Fuente Wine & Mezcal will operate much like a Melbourne-style wine bar and ‘shoppe’, where people can taste and enjoy wine and mezcal on-site, as well as buy them to take home.
Farrera has spent the past 10 months sourcing benchmark products from producers in Mexico, New Zealand and around the world for his new venture, which marries his passions for both wine and mezcal.
“Throughout my travels, I’ve found limited releases and outstanding vintages not otherwise found in bars or specialty wine stores, and sourced mezcales direct from local, small scale, sustainable producers in Oaxaca,” Farrera says.
“Our guests can expect an unexpected mix wines and handcrafted mezcales that make up a drinks offering unlike any other in New Zealand. Like wine, mezcal is a journey of discovery. One of the most ancient distilled products it offers a glimpse into the history and geography of my country and I’m really looking forward to sharing my knowledge and passion for this incredible spirit.”
An intimate and cosy hideaway in Snickel Lane, La Fuente is the first bar in the country to devote itself to mezcal, with around 30 handcrafted variations of the spirit sourced from Oaxaca, Mexico with great examples of entry level, artisan and ancestral categories on offer.
Farrera and his expert team, which includes Meg Abbott-Walker of MASU and Lovebucket fame, will offer customers the option of choosing their wine or mezcal from a list or letting the house take care of that decision, with carefully curated tasting flights designed to give people an introduction to new wine experineces and the wonderful world of mezcal.
La Fuente’s mezcal tasting flights will be served with traditional Mexican spiced salts to match, enhancing the drink’s intensities for a truly authentic experience.
The wines and mezcales on offer will be complemented by a small but perfectly formed menu of Mexican-inspired dishes and bar snacks curated by Johannes Carroux (ex-Ostro and Rosebank Kitchen) who is taking the helm in the kitchen and bringing his own creative flair. Menu includes tapas dishes such as house cured ceviche, salmon tostaditas (salmon cured for three days in mezcal served on small handmade tortillas), cheese and potato croquettes, torta de cochinta (Yucatán pulled pork sandwich), cheese & charcuterie platters and more. A ‘secret menu’ which changes based on the availability of the best produce will offer additional dishes for the inquisitive.
The experience is further enhanced by the specialty bar and shoppe’s fit out, designed by Ctrl_Space to reflect the rustic charm of Mexico and some of the wine-producing regions featured on the drinks list.
Farrera, an award-winning wine expert with experience in leading restaurants in Mexico, London and Auckland, says the concept of La Fuente has been a long-term passion project, as he looks to create an unpretentious atmosphere for enjoying the wine and mezcal on offer.
“We will be listening to our guests before offering them anything, so they can rest assured we will deliver an experience personalised to their tastes,” he says.
“The unique and relaxed atmosphere we’re building at La Fuente will be the perfect spot for wine and spirit aficionados to appreciate a specialty drop or pick some up to enjoy at home after work.”
La Fuente will be open seven days a week from 11am till late. The bar and shoppe will also host regular Wine Club and Mezcal Appreciation Sessions and events designed to showcase the different aspects of winemaking and mezcal production.