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Gaucho: The Art of Argentine Wine

March 16, 2016 Beverage No Comments Email Email

unnamed (7)Gaucho is a thought leader in the Argentine wine industry and has played a key role in raising the profile of its various labels in the UK, the Middle East, and now in Hong Kong. The UK-based restaurant group has been the proud owner of its very own vineyard, Finca La Franca, in Mendoza for almost a decade, and also houses the largest selection of Argentine wines outside of Argentina, offering over 200 labels to its diners across all 18 of its restaurants globally.

In 2007, Gaucho purchased Finca La Franca, a 6.5 hectare vineyard in Lunlunta, Luján de Cujo, Mendoza- long considered the traditional heartland of winemaking in Argentina. The vineyard, planted with over 80-year-old Malbec vines, is overseen by the highly regarded Argentinian vintner Maurico Lorca who has created an award winning wine—Viña Patricia—available exclusively at all Gaucho restaurants.The idea to begin producing Gaucho’s own ‘in-house’ wine initially came from Gaucho’s Director of Wine, Phil Crozier. Nicknamed

‘Mr. Argentina’ for his leading role in the country’s wine industry, Phil has played an integral role at Gaucho since 1999, where he has built up an award-winning list of wines exclusively from Argentina. Throughout the years, Phil has worked with all of Argentina’s leading winemakers, including Nicolás Catena, Susana Balbo and José Zuccardi and was made a World-Wide Ambassador to Luján de Cujo in 2008.

Gaucho Hong Kong’s wine list is under the supervision of Argentinian Head Sommelier Andrés Torres, who has worked hand in hand with Phil to create some phenomenal pairings with the restaurant’s signature dishes. For example, Andrés and Phil recommend Torrontés, an aromatic, perfumed white wine native to northern Argentina, as the ideal pair for Gaucho’s famed selection of Ceviches. The reasoning for this, as Phil says, is that ‘The indigenous grape of the Torrontés is a harmonious match with the delicate fish and the citrus and spice notes in the marinade.’

Another of their favourite pairings is Tannat, from the Salta region, with one of Gaucho’s signature steak cuts: Tira de Ancho. ‘A powerful red like Tannat needs a rich and intense cut of beef,’ Andrés says. The Tannat provides just the right level of acidity to balance the juiciness produced by the fat marbled into this particular cut.

‘Malbec is one of the most well-known names of Argentine wine in Hong Kong, yet few people are aware of just how many varieties there are,’Phil notes. Malbec from warmer climates such as those of Luján de Cujo and Maipú, are too overpowering for a simple fillet of beef, yet Malbec from cooler climates, such as those from the Uco valley, have an intense and perfumed aromatic profile which pairs well with this cut.

Continuing the love for Malbec, Phil recommends the earthier Patagonia Malbec paired with Gaucho’s famous Rump Cut. The rump’s earthy, gamy flavour due to its low fat content is mimicked by the earthiness of the wine. Phil comments ‘Patagonia Malbec absorb minerals from the soils of Rio Negro river bed which contribute to the finesse of the tannins in the wine. This creates an earthy flavor that compliments the rump cut very well.’

‘I end every meal at Gaucho with a cheese platter, and blue cheese is a must for me,’Phil says. He believes that a late harvest Torrontésis a perfect match, due to its gentle, sweet acidity with quince and marmalade notes, and certain aromatic qualities, which helps to cut the richness of blue cheese perfectly.

Andrés says, ‘The growth in the number of wineries and more premium labels of Argentine wine available in Hong Kong since we opened is considerable.’ He adds ‘Working together with the importers we have managed to source and import many wines made exclusively for Gaucho, by some of the top wineries in Argentina, to Hong Kong, further adding to the value and unique nature of our list’. unnamed (8)The Wines

Torrontés- Originally thought to come from Galicia in Spain, this unique grape variety achieves its true potential in the northern province of Salta, home to the highest vineyards in the world. Studies have recently revealed that it is indeed a native varietal to Argentina, being a cross between Muscatel de Alexandria and Criolla Chica.

Gaucho’s recommendation:

Familia Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ (2015)- $350
Aromatic, floral and high in acidity with clean, fresh elderflower and lychee notes and a pink grapefruit, citrus finish.

Malbec- Malbec is the jewel in Argentina’s crown. When combined with beef or chocolate, it offers an unbeatable combination.

Gaucho’s recommendation:

Viña Patricia (2012)- $138 Glass; $680 Bottle
Ripe black fruits, raspberry and ripe cherry, violets and lavender, with silky soft tannins that feel like melting chocolate.

Tannat- Hailing from south west France, and better known in Uruguay, this variety has now found a natural home in the province of Salta.

Gaucho’s recommendation:

Susana Balbo ‘Mandala’ (2012)- $168 Glass; $830 Bottle

Molasses and jasmine on the nose with plenty of pepper spice, dried fruits and black treacle. A very full-bodied but elegant tannins.

El Porvenir de Cafayate ‘Laborum Torrontés de Otoño’ (2010)- $98 Glass; $600 Bottle

Great balance between concentration and freshness, super floral, ripe peach, apricot and pineapple, ginger and orange zests notes.

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