Yet another wine dinner at Ista, which is fast gaining a reputation for hosting some rather smartly, priced wine experiences in the city. From the Food Lovers Club’s ‘Flights of Wine’ programme on wine appreciation to the food and wine paired dinners at Zaman which have now almost become a monthly ritual of sorts, it does seem that the hotel’s management is doing its very best to draw in the city’s wine enthusiasts.
“Argentina is the fifth largest wine producing country in the world”, said Michael Müller, representing Argentina’s largest wine maker Bodega Norton, situated in the Luján de Cuyo region of Mendoza valley at the foothills of the Andes. And if you didn’t know this impressive piece of statistic, you would be forgiven for it is not until as late as the early nineties that the Argentineans considered sharing their wines with the rest of the world. Up until then, all wines produced were consumer locally – the per capita consumption of wine is now at half the mind-boggling 90 litres that it used to be then!
The first wine of the evening was a 2008 Bodega Norton Sauvignon Blanc – extremely fruity on the nose with notes of green apple and passion fruit, and some acidity on the palate with a short finish, it would make a good aperitif – that paired well with the salmon gravadlax, served with warm blini and dill cream.
Up next, was the Bodega Norton Chardonnay 2008; mellow on the nose, this full-bodied and creamy wine displayed hints of smokiness. And it was a cracker of a pairing with a succulent breast of chicken stuffed with foie gras and a superbly weighty sauce Périgord.
As for the reds, Michael had arranged for a tasting of two Malbecs – a 2007 and a Reserva Malbec 2005 – a varietal now considered iconic of Argentinean wines although its origins are in France as one of the six varietals allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wines. The 2007 was a deep red with mild spice on the nose, very tannic not too rounded though. On the other hand, the Reserve Malbec, aged first in French Oak for 12 months, before another 12 months in the bottle, asserted itself with its aroma of mild pepper and chocolate; on the palate, it made for a persistent well-rounded finish. Unfortunately, the slow braised lamb seemed to pale in comparison to the wine.
What’s wonderful about these wines are the prices; the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are available for Rs. 630 and Rs. 675 respectively at Metro, whilst the Reserva Malbec sells for Rs. 1155. The last two, surely wines that I will look out for.
Luján de Cuyo: A heaven for vine growing
From time memorial, those who know about wines have not hesitated to call Luján de Cuyo city in Mendoza province as “The First Zone” given the fact that it is located in a privileged spot for high quality wines production.
There are many reasons that make this region special: an average height of 900 m above sea level; rocky soil of alluvial origin which is not deep; a watering system of crystal water resulting from the Andes melt waters; one of the world’s highest luminosity rates with over 250 sunny days a year; little rains (five or six days in a year); and a mild climate with big temperature differences between day and night.
All these elements come together to provide excellent fruit ripening and concentration, developing colours, aromas, flavours and textures in an ideal manner, thereby yielding balanced wines of particular characteristics, with deep colours, fruity aromas and intense flavours.
Please do take our 10-second poll