For the 2017 debut of Moët Hennessey’s super-premium tequila brand Volcán De Mi Tierra, we made our way through Mexico to tour the tipple’s birthplace and learn of its development with the masterful Gallardo family. Volcán launched with a crisp entry-level Blanco and a creamy Cristalino (with the latter our favorite). More than three years later, the burgeoning brand introduces its carefully considered Reposado and it’s one for the shelves of tequila lovers, whether devoted or discovering. To celebrate that launch, Volcán partnered with chef Luis Arce Mota and his team at La Contenta in NYC. Chef Mota prepared a pairing menu (available through November at their Oeste location) for the Reposado and in many ways it acts as a decoder ring to the illustrious flavor profile of the liquid.
Tequila can yield some 600 unique scents—with those olfactory origins pinned to its agave and terroir, the distillation process and wood. Volcán’s Reposado is born from 100% blue agave from the highlands of Jalisco, which forms its fingerprint of a flavor profile. The liquid then rests for 135 days in new casks made of American and European oak. It’s this step that distinguishes the liquor.
“After almost two years of trials and multiple experiments, we finally landed on two styles of casks that we absolutely loved,” Trent Fraser, Volcán’s Managing Director, tells us. “The problem was that both were so stunning in their own right—we did not know which direction to go. One was more austere and on the powerful side, showcasing cooked agave. The other was much more about the finesse, elegance and aromatics of the highland region. So we said to ourselves, ‘Let’s blend the two to have the best of both worlds,'” Thus, their Reposado was born.
For Fraser and the Volcán team, this was a three-year passion project underscored by a meticulous process. When speaking of their new addition, Fraser emphasizes the role of heart in crafting the liquid with the Gallardo family. And despite the might of Moët Hennessey behind them, Volcán is still a pithy brand that bears evidence of the hands crafting it.
Though pairing menus tend to embrace lower proof drinks like wines and beers, Chef Mota says that he “believes that the high alcohol content of the tequila, combined with the flavors of the agave, lend themselves to pairing with Mexican food, which tends to be fatty, spicy and delicious.” Chef Mota comes from Mazatlán, Mexico “on the Pacific Coast where my father was a fisherman. I grew up on seafood, and it plays an integral role in my menus.”
“Seafood pairs particularly well with tequila blanco,” he notes. “Shrimp and other seafood served with salsas high in acidity—like tomatillo or pico de Gallo—balance nicely with tequila blanco, too. A Reposado like Volcán de Mi Tierra complements the smokiness of the guajillo and morita chile peppers and the sweetness of the shrimp in the tamales barbudos; the mild acidity of the salsa verde complements the tequila, completing the circle.” He adds that the rich, nuanced notes acquired from aging “enhance and lift more complex sauces, such as mole and pipián.”
Chef Mota recently finished installing outdoor seating at La Contenta to continue to serve his dedicated guests. On the menu, amidst the shiitake and oyster gordita de hongos and coliflor al pastor and roaster fig tartlet, one might even find a fruitful Volcán cocktail called the Tepache (a reference to the fermented pineapple drink of the same name). It’s made with pineapple (rind and all), as well as lemon and orange juice, and it’s a liquid appetizer for a pour of the Reposado neat.
Hero image courtesy of Volcán De Mi Tierra