A fellow wine school graduate, Amilcar recently worked as a somm volunteer at the World’s Best Somm contest in Mendoza, an experience he calls “unique”. You find him offering advice at Cepas del Alma wine store in Buenos Aires.
What was your last pairing recommendation?
Beyond it being a question of label, protocol or good taste, knowing how to combine a drink with food is important because you need to ensure all the flavours complement each other and nothing loses its role.
Besides, maintaining a perfect balance between wine and food is key to ensuring diners enjoy the menu.
People always ask me where to go for dinner and what to drink and I give my point of view so that they have a good combination of aromas, flavours and moments that they won’t forget.
Wine doesn’t just accompany meals but a good selection can heighten dishes’ flavours and considerably improve them, but the ideal combination at the end of the day is that all this works according to one’s preferences.
What did you drink last night?
A glass of Laborum Torrontés Single Vineyard 2013, from Bodega El Porvenir de Cafayate. A wine that doesn’t just express its fruit but its terroir. It’s got good body and structure, well perfumed, elegant and jovial. This wine comes from altitude, at 1,750 metres above sea level in Cafayate, Salta. I recommend it with Salta’s excellent food, such as empanadas from the area, something very local.
What’s your favourite wine region in the world and why?
Two have had a big impact on me, and it’s true that outside of Argentina, Chile and the US, I look toward the Old World – plus they were the first two that I visited. One zone was Penedés in Cataluña, Villafranca del Penedés to be exact, where I find vineyard diversity on one hand and on the other side of this stunning countryside, a varietal that really surprised me was Merlot as did some Cavas, straight from the main production hub.
The other is Tuscany, precisely San Gimignano, and the truth is the vineyards and hills had a big effect on me. The 360º view is a marvellous selection of terroir located at different points and positions and the sun reaches every corner each morning. And behind it, that magical village. One of my favourite varietals without a doubt is Sangiovese and Chianti Classico.
What do you love most about your job?
I really enjoy food and wine and it’s very much part of me. It’s culture. I love communicating, expressing and giving everything that I have learnt so far in this beautiful world of wine. We can talk about countries, regions, climates and soils. In the past five years I’ve learnt so much and it’s a continual learning process. I want to grow every day and make this amazing small world bigger. This search, the ability to travel around the world and meet new people means I love this profession more every day.
Name a gem in your personal cellar.
I love whites but they don’t have much chance in my own cellar – I open them and enjoy the moment. I’ve got a few things in my red cellar, wine I’ve purchased on trips, some I’ve bought in Argentina and others are gifts. But I’m pretty anxious to try a vertical which always requires you to have just one more glass: the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Val de Flores from Michel Rolland.
What’s the best thing that ever happened to you as a somm?
Not just finishing my degree at CAVE wine school in Buenos Aires and undertaking some international courses but I was part of the voluntary staff working at the Best Sommelier of the World contest in Mendoza in April.
The truth is it was a unique moment that left our country on a high and I’m extremely proud of the whole experience. A group of volunteers worked at the contest knowing we would probably never have that chance again. A lot of work and effort ended up being the best experience in this short and marvellous career. I define it as ‘culture for the soul’. Good for Argentina, good for the world and we sommeliers, well, our profession in this step of the world cup was the result that each one of us accepted #BestWorldSommARG2016.
If you were a wine, you’d be:
Mmmmm. I don’t think I can. But I do have good acidity!