How do you choose the wine you buy? Do you go for grape varieties you know you love, or do you try to pick something you’ve never tried before? Or are you simply a sucker for a great label? (Maybe that’s just me…) Back in the UK, where I’m from, wine shops and supermarket shelves offer a bewildering array of choices from all the winemaking countries you’ve ever and never heard of. Everything from Indian rosé, Moroccan reds, and Romanian Sauvignon Blanc to delicate Japanese whites and Georgian orange wines. These days #trending applies as much to our food and drink as to our fashion choices.
Personally I struggle just deciding what to wear from my 10-piece holiday wardrobe. Living in Buenos Aires does makes things easier; imported wines are tricky to come by and most portfolios are dominated by that vinous Argentine hotshot, Malbec. Even so, I can feel hubby’s impatience when it takes me half an hour to pick out a bottle for dinner from the 50-something options in our local shop.
One obvious solution to all this indecisiveness is to let someone else do the choosing. This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the launch evening of Tierra Club, a new local venture which selects 4 wines a month. I was immediately smitten with the idea; that’s four times a month I don’t have to hover awkwardly in a tiny wine shop, quietly salivating over the options in front of me! What’s more, they also give you a hand deciding what to have for dinner. In addition to the wines, Tierra Club offer regular exclusive wine and food pairing events where the wines of that month are served with delicious tapas created by their team of chefs.
The party got started with a bit of bubbly, an Extra Brut Chardonnay and Semillon sparkler from Bodega La Azul. Based in Tupungato, in Mendoza’s highly-regarded (i.e. #trending) Uco Valley, this boutique winery makes the most of the region’s cool high-altitude nights to make this refreshing fizz with mouthwatering acidity. That cleansing freshness made the bubbly an ideal match for the gorgeous smoked salmon, poached pear and cucumber cream pairing (top right).
The second match of the day was a berry bright Pinot Noir from Gouguenheim Winery served up with a grilled prawn and mango skewer. Again coming from Tupungato, their vineyards sit at 1100 metres of altitude which adds leanness and good acidity to ripe raspberry flavours and a delicate floral flourish. It’s fabulous with prawns or salmon, but try it with a classic Cassoulet au Canard (Duck Casserole) and it’ll probably blow your brains out.
Speaking of blowing your brains out, our next pairing took things to a whole new level. The team had picked out a competent Cabernet Sauvignon by the heavyweight Clos de Chacras winery. The real hero here, though, was the sweet, fluffy bao stuffed with salty pork and barbecue sauce and topped with jewel-like pink radish slices and toasted peanuts (see the foodporn pic above, bottom-left). These pillowy steamed breads are currently experiencing their own #trending moment here in Buenos Aires for a very good reason – they’re absolutely, incredibly, unforgettably delicious. Plus they make a nice change from all that steak…
Classic Argentine fare did make an appearance in the final course in the form of a hearty bottle of Tinto Negro Malbec, also from Tupungato. Named Limestone Block for the vineyard soils, there’s plenty of punchy fruit tempered with a dash of Cabernet Franc and 9 months in French oak. This is a wine that’s begging for a hunk of dead cow, or a rather less-traditional caramelized chorizo, black bean puree and corn cream on cassava biscuits. Bet ya didn’t see that one coming.
The evening wrapped with some sweet nibbles and plenty of refills as we chatted all things food, wine and politics (Brexit, of course) with new friends. And the best bit? Thanks to Tierra Club I now have a house full of wine and a ton of dinner pairing ideas. And I’m going to be sharing each and every one of them with you guys, just as soon as I track down that bao recipe…
Have you ever joined a wine club? Why not tell us about it in the comments! And if you’ve enjoyed the read, why not join us here at The Wine Culturist by simply clicking the follow button at the bottom of the page… We always love making new winelover friends!