An all-female team of chefs and artisans are bringing their talent to this luxury Mexico hotel

UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya, the redefined, adults only all-inclusive hotel located in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula, has announced the women-powered line-up for its fourth annual gastronomy series, Superbia Summer.

From July 11 to Aug. 21, the hotel’s multi-sensory experience will feature an all women roster of chefs, mixologists, and local artisans all coming together to showcase their talent from different regions of Mexico. Each week will feature one chef, one mixologist, and one artisan implementing their unique twist to transform the hotel’s experiences.

Additionally, this year’s event will also include a variety of pool activations, live entertainment and more. Superbia Summer invites guests to indulge in paradise and embark on a journey through the senses alongside the following talent:

  • July 11-17: Chef Marcela Bolaño, Mixologist Rocio Frias, Artisan Carina Barbachano

  • July 18-24: Chef Regina Escalante, Mixologist Mafer Tejeda, Artisan Cristina Arnedo

  • July 25-31: Chef Lupita Vidal, Mixologist (not confirmed), Artisan Juana Gomez

  • August 1-7: Chef Marta Zapata, Mixologist Fatima Leon, Artisan Claudia Ponce De Leon

  • August 8-14: Chef Adria Montano, Mixologist Claudia Cabrera, Artisan Paloma Santa Cruz

  • August 15-21: Chef Celia Florian, Mixologist Majo Cruz, Artisan Gaston Gallardo

“Women have always been at the forefront of UNICO 20º87º Hotel Riviera Maya’s identity. From ideation to execution, the hotel would not be what it is today without the powerful women-led team behind it. This year, on the heels of its fifth anniversary, we wanted to pay homage to our roots and bring in a number of exceptional women across the food, beverage and arts industries to showcase their talents,” said Irma Yeo, Director of Sales at UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya. “Incorporating a memorable multi-sensory event into a culturally immersive, all-inclusive experience while highlighting outstanding women demonstrates our commitment to offering our guests a curated, one-of-a-kind vacation.”

UNICO 20°87º Hotel Riviera Maya redefines the all-inclusive vacation experience and offers an unfiltered view of modern Mexico. From the concept, to the rustic-meets-modern design, and even the cultural art displayed around the property, UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya is completely ideated by women.

Born out of a desire to create an unparalleled journey within the region while encompassing relaxed luxury and cultural immersion, UNICO 20°87° celebrates five years as the new standard for the sophisticated travellers looking for an all-inclusive vacation. Located south of Playa del Carmen in Mexico, this exceptional, adults only, all-inclusive hotel features 448 lavishly appointed guest rooms boasting predominantly ocean-views with semi-private swim-up pools on all ground floor rooms and outdoor double-hydro spa tubs on all remaining rooms, an in-room mini bar stocked by guest preferences, three expansive pools, a state-of-the-art wellness gym, a full-service spa, five globally-infused gourmet restaurants, six bars and lounges, and two swim-up bars. 

Summer Sippers

Splash a little Chablis in your glass and take a sip. Suddenly you’re in France. Same holds true for Champagne, Rioja, Barbaresco, and all the rest—wines that take you to these fabulous places. Pair the wine with food from the same region and things get really trippy. Enjoy a little European escape with these six smart summer sippers and suggested nibblies.

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PROVENCE ROSÉ AND TAPENADE

Score: 90 | $19.15

For a taste of the South of France, enjoy the 2020 Carte Noire Rosé from Provence, France (Vintages Essential 319384). This pale coral blend of Grenache and Cinsault swirls with delicate  flavours ofripe red fruit laced lightly with  wet stones, dried herbs, and green olive.

Pair it with tapenade — an olive and anchovy spread seasoned with capers, garlic, and lemon — spread on small pieces of toasted bread, and bring the Côte d’Azur to you. 

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CHABLIS AND OYSTERS

Score: 91 | $32.80

Staying in France, head north to Burgundy for the 2019 Joseph Drouhin Chablis Drouhin-Vaudon (LCBO 284026). In Chablis, the grapevines grow in soil rich in Kimmeridgean clay, which produces a stony, slightly saline-style Chardonnay, shimmering with crisp acidity. And this bottle is a prime example. Each sip is silky, seamless, and scented with seashells.

Pair this beautiful Chablis with oysters, lobster, or any fish dish at all. The match is pure perfection.  

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CHAMPAGNE AND SMOKED SALMON

Score: 92 | $57.50

For a brilliant bubbly, pour the NV Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne from France (LCBO 537605). Each glass shines straw-coloured with golden inflections, while tiny bubbles bead to the surface. The attack engages instantly with the fragrance and flavours of buttery brioche, baked apple, and a touch of almond. Elegant, quenching, and dry.

Serve this Champagne with smoked salmon on toast points for a little je ne sais quoi in the afternoon. Or add a salad and suddenly you’ve got lunch. 

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BARBARESCO AND MUSHROOM RISOTTO

Score: 90 | $29.95

Head to Piedmont in northern Italy with the 2017 Castello di Neive Barbaresco DOCG (Vintages Essential 160143). This pale expression of the Nebbiolo grape fans out with gorgeous, elegant complexity. It’s whispered with violet and earth, cherries and chocolate, and blackberries and olive, forming a sheer, allusive tapestry of flavour that is fabulously food friendly.

Pour this Italian classic with a bowl of mushroom risotto or kick it up a notch with shaved truffles, truffled cheese, or even a drizzle of good-quality truffle oil on top.

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RIOJA RESERVA AND MANCHEGO

Score: 93 | $27.45

Skip over to Spain with a glass of the gorgeous 2015 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva (LCBO 32656). From the muted aromas of vanilla and cherry-cola to the generous sweep of smooth flavour, this wine offers immediate pleasure. It is a cashmere crush of black cherry, burnt sugar, and cola nut—but dry—before tapering to a long finish of rubbed oregano.

For a touch of Spanish charm, serve this Rioja Reserva with some slivers of Manchego cheese. Crackers optional.

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AMONTILLADO WITH MARCONA ALMONDS

Score: 93 | $17.95

Or take a trip to southern Spain with a sip of Emilio Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado (Vintages Essential 375097). This fortified wine made in the sherry style, and is bone dry, amber toned, and complex. Expect aromas of roasted nut, caramel, coffee, and orange that echo on the palate.

Serve this Amontillado well-chilled with a handful of salted Marcona almonds from Spain.  Magic.

So, stock your wine rack, pantry, and fridge with these European wines and foods and get ready to experience some exciting getaways from the comfort of your deck or dock.

Holiday Wine & Cheese Pairings

To take you through the season in style

Nothing is easier (and smarter) than serving a delicious wine with a fabulous cheese. It’s effortlessly chic and makes holiday entertaining a breeze. To set you up for success, here are five brilliant wine and cheese pairings to add panache to classic holiday gatherings…

Holiday Open House

WOODED CHARDONNAY AND GRUYERE2017 Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay, California

Toasty and refined with creamy-crisp flavours of lemon meringue pie, toasted coconut and vanilla.

Available at LCBO | $19.95

One seriously compelling pairing is oaked Chardonnay and Gruyere, a hard cheese from Switzerland. The combination will dazzle your guests. Simple yet oh-so-good. Set a big wedge on a cheeseboard with crackers. Grate some onto thin toast points and broil it. Or bake some Gruyere, onion, mushroom tarts. Any way you slice it, you can’t go wrong.

traditional-grana-padano-cheese-cutting-board-with-grapes-and-walnuts

Office Party

SAUVIGNON BLANC AND FRESH GOAT CHEESE2018 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

A juicy attack of guava dappled with orange, lemon and lime, as well as coriander and parsley.

Available at LCBO | $17.95

The crisp, gently herbaceous flavour of Sauvignon Blanc tastes like it was made to serve with fresh goat cheese. Spread it on crackers, crumble and broil on flatbread, or bake it in thumbprint-sized phylo cups with chives sprinkled on top, and all you need is a bottle of the wine to bring finesse to the office party.

Hanukkah

MANISCHEWITZ WINE AND CREAM CHEESENV Manischewitz Blackberry, New York

Blackberry jam in a glass—but liquefied and gourmet—with a firm alcoholic backbone sustaining the vinosity.

Available at LCBO Vintages | $9.00

When observing Hanukkah, you can lift the festivities with Manischewitz wine and cream cheese treats. The combination of the sweet, jam-jar goodness of the wine works very well with cream cheese. Whether it’s rolled in nuts, cheese-ball style, baked into latkes, or just spread on toasted bites of challah—the pairing is downright delicious.

 

Christmas Day

BAROLO AND TRUFFLED PECORINO2014 Marchesi di Barolo La Tradizione Barolo, Piedmont, Italy

Allusions of tar and roses underpin bright fruit—dusty cherries and plum purée—with hints of coffee, earth and chocolate.

Available at LCBO Vintages | $42.95

For a real treat at Christmas, pair Barolo, one of Piedmont’s most revered wine styles, with truffled Pecorino— otherwise known as pecorino al tartufo. The earthy elegance of Barolo pairs famously with the gamey goodness of truffles, especially when the truffles imbue hard, salty Pecorino. It’s a hedonistic combination. Truffled Pecorino needs no embellishment, so serve it simply with crackers or toasts and pour the wine.

 

New Year’s Eve

CHAMPAGNE AND GRANA PADANONV Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne, France

Baked apple, white flowers and toast edged with warm vanilla and nuts. Delicate and elegant.

Available at LCBO | $74.25

New Year’s Eve calls for bubbles. And nothing is quite as celebratory as Champagne, with its hallmark cooked apple, brioche, and lemon curd character. But you can step up your game by serving it with Grana Padano—Northern Italy’s famous hard, crumbly cheese rich in umami. A large wedge of this honourable cheese really needs no embellishment—so serve as is, with fizz.

 

Story by CAROLYN EVANS HAMMOND

Muskoka’s Top Drops

At the lake, drinking Ontario wine feels like the right thing to do for any occasion. And local wineries can —and do—spin out some very fine juice. You just need to know which bottles to buy. With that in mind, I tasted high and low to find six hidden gems that pair perfectly with quintessential cottage moments.

ON THE DOCK
2017 Redstone
Limestone Vineyards
South Block Riesling,
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara
Score: 96 | $19.15
Available at redstone.com Kick back in the sun with a glass of this sunlit Riesling. Its refreshing scent of fresh salted lime and saturated, sorbet-like attack will have you at hello. The beam-like entry tastes bright and pure, quickly unspooling with coy suggestions of white peach, lemon-lime and mango before leaving an attractive wet stone and sea salt finish. This is a stylishly complex wine with a light kiss of sweetness, mouthwatering acidity, and a sensibly low 10.5 per cent alcohol.

AROUND THE BONFIRE
2016 Tawse Winery
David’s Block Cabernet Franc,
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara
Score: 96 | $50.15
Available at tawsewinery.ca Bonding around the bonfire with friends is priceless—especially over a superb bottle of red such as this. It teems with aromas and flavours of black cherries dunked in dark chocolate, while the rich centre is intriguingly scored with elements of minerality—graphite and granite as well as a toasted nuttiness. And yes, actually, it pairs with stick-roasted hotdogs, too. Ticks all the boxes while demonstrating why connoisseurs are calling Cabernet Franc Ontario’s flagship grape variety.

AS THE SUN SETS
2017 Westcott
Rosé Pinot Noir,
VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara
Score: 92 | $22.95
Available at westcottvineyards.com Pour a glass of this dry wine that drinks like a Provencal rosé and watch the sun set. All easy elegance, it shines pale coral and exudes ethereal aromas of struck steel and crushed redcurrants. The attack is silky-crisp and restrained, with wispy notes of cool linen and homemade strawberryrhubarb pie, followed by a faint but resonant twist of citrus zest on the finish. Just 400 cases of this delicate rosé were produced though, so snap it up before it’s gone.

WITH GRILLED STEAK
2017 Henry of Pelham
Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir,
VQA Ontario
Score: 94 | $24.95
Available at LCBO Vintages or henryofpelham.com Baco Noir has a cult-like following in Ontario, and this particularly profound expression tastes like it was made to pair with grilled steak. Made from 35 year old vines, it’s inky dark in colour and delivers robust aromas of macerated berries, smoky tobacco and roasted coffee. Then, a cashmere crush of dark cherry and plum, cigar box and espresso fill the mouth and stay a while. Outstanding value from a top-notch Baco Noir producer.

WITH GRILLED FISH
2017 Stratus
Weather Report Chardonnay,
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
Score: 93 | $28.00
Available at stratuswines.com Grilled fish is a summertime staple. And it comes to life with this sophisticated white from one of Ontario’s terroir-driven producers. It offers all the concentration and weight needed to stand up to grill marks, while maintaining delicacy and elegance. Quiet scents of nougat and praline lead to a smooth entry that quietly unfolds with full-bodied flavour. Chantilly cream, sweet corn, and nuts infuse the bright citrus core, and a crème brûlée finish with a touch of grapefruit pith lend lingering appeal. A connoisseur’s wine.

IN GOOD COMPANY
2016 Leaning Post
Clone 96 Chardonnay,
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, ON
Score: 97+ | $45.00
Available at leaningpostwines.com This impressive wooded Chardonnay drinks like fine white Burgundy at a fraction of the price. Wonderfully heady aromas of smoky lime, fresh butter and cool stone draw you toward a creamy-weighty palate shot through with bright acidity. Each satiny sip unfurls with lemon curd, toasted meringue, and freshly rolled pastry with underpinnings of chalk, marzipan and honey. Polished,poised, and worth every cent. Winner of the gold medal at the Ontario Wine Awards and Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines in 2018.

Story by CAROLYN EVANS HAMMOND