Argentina is a land of passion, whether it is the sensuous steps of the tango, savory food dishes or succulent wine. All were on display during a special food and wine pairing sponsored by Winebow at the recent 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland.
Although it is their most famous grape, there is much more to Argentina than Malbec. I began the tasting brunch with a crisp 2011 Bodega Catena Zapata Chardonnay. The pairing for this Mendoza wine was corn and cheese empanadas with spinach alioli. This was a successful match. Argentina doesn't get the respect it should for its whites.
The crowd was bustling and our tasting team was scattering to either watch a tango demonstration or choose from the many wine and food options. I circled to the back and grabbed a 2010 Bodega Catena Zapata Cab. This was served with chimichurri marinated flat iron steak over chipotle sweet potatoes garnished with fresh cilantro. The steak outshone the Cab, which was good, but not showstopping.
After enjoying a stuffed fig with the Alma Negra M Blend, I turned my attention to Malbec. First in my sights was the 2009 Catena Zapata Alta Malbec with beef empanadas. Now we were rolling with some rich berry goodness.
The peak was the 2010 Bodegas Nieto Senetiner Reserva Malbec. I didn't care so much for the braised pork belly -- but the expressive Malbec was superb. Rich with jammy dark fruit and splashed with a twist of complexity, this was a fantastic new discovery.
Unfortunately, while I was enjoying the reserve Malbec, I got outmaneuvered. On the other end of the room was the tastiest food of the brunch: sea salt seared scallops with black bean hummus. When I arrived only the block of salt was left and the figure of Austin Beeman disappearing in the distance.
Kudos to chef Steven Ward, Winebow and, of course, the outstanding wine producers of Argentina.