When Valeria Mortara inboxed with an invite to the 2016 launch of Bienconvino’s latest additions, I didn’t look at the time, the date, not even the venue. I simply said ‘Confirmo yaaaaaaa’.
Bienconvino Serie Maridaje. Goes well with wine. Goes AMAZINGLY with wine. And with two exciting new babies toddling about, bringing the family to seven, it’s multiplied in a way that screams IVF (in vine fertilisation, anyone?) – and I’m all for it.
When, in 2015, the dynamic duo’s other half, Mariana Achaval, explained their concept to me – a wine range that pairs with specific ingredients – it made perfect sense. It was so logical I wondered why no one else hadn’t done it before. (It turns out they have in the US, but whatever, we’re all about Argentina.)
Venturing on regardless with Monteviejo’s Marcelo Pelleriti on board, Valeria and Mariana whipped out cracking four wines, ‘Fish and Seafood’ and ‘Red Meats’ floating my boat in particular. (See, we’re not even talking varietals here.) A rosé completed the 2015 releases.
And fresh for spring 2016, comes ‘Appetisers & Desserts 2016′ and the much-anticipated – at least by me – QUESOS/CHEESE 2016. Fuck yes! Vamos todavía carajo etc.
Appetisers & Desserts’ bright orange label is filled with fragrant promise. Torrontés fans will appreciate its similarities. A floral Gewürztraminer, previewed in perfect sync with the Indian spring Buenos Aires has been embracing this past week, blossom and peaches make you want to strip down to your undies and frolic about rolling pastures, swigging from the bottle like a carefree Bacchus. Little wonder. Out of 10,000 wine grape varieties in the world, this is one of the most aromatic and most definitely should spur you on to flamboyant behaviour.
Let’s be clear: this Gewürztraminer is not sweet (which it can be) but off-dry. Originating in Germany, Gewü has mades its home in Alsace, France, it holds the accolade of ‘noble grape’ (there are 18 in the world) and is also an Alsace Grand Cru grape (there are four).
A punchy example from Los Arbolitos, Uco Valley, this grape’s very acidity and sugary hint thanks to 11 grams of sugar gets your mouth drooling, priming you for food. With a lightly oily texture, peaches, herbs and mineral spring alive. Mouth-watering, lip-licking.
Naturally ‘Appetisers & Desserts’ came with exactly that; a chicken and pork liver paté and a fruit salad. The fatty savoury kicked arse over the dessert, given the wine’s acidity sliced through that unctuous texture like a surgeon’s knife and lifting it up.
Besides the suggested appetiser and desserts – and Mariana and Valeria are adamant these are suggestions, not mandates – this Gewürztraminer will also sweep you down the aisle with spicy dishes; think ceviche or Thai red curry with chicken or fish.
As is the way, the back label includes a pairing recipe; a foie paté with mustard butter à l’orange by Olivier Falchi from Sofitel Buenos Aires. Try whipping it up at home and sampling your efforts with it. And let’s face it, it’s way easier to say ‘lo de aperitivos y postres, por favor’ instead of Gewürztraminer. 235 pesos in wine stores.
On to CHEESE. Wine, bread and queso is the holiest of trinities, a triumphant match made in heaven BUT, not all wines work with cheese. Bienconvino to the rescue.
I had no idea what grape/s to expect for this and if you’ve never enjoyed or tried Merlot before, this is it. Do it! This year, I chose two grapes with the aim of tasting them at every available opportunity – Merlot is one of them – so imagine the grin on my face when it rolled up under my nose.
Usually produced on Bordeaux’s Right Bank – the most well-known appellations (AOC) are Pomerol and Saint-Emilion –Bienconvino steps over to Vista Flores for its Merlot. But, as opposed to taking the classic oaky style seen in Bordeaux, they’ve created a mash-up, giving this red carbonic maceration treatment usually seen in Burgundy’s Beaujolais Nouveau-style wines. Don’t stop reading…
Tech speak for ‘fermenting whole clusters of grapes’ (grapes are usually pressed without stems), carbonic maceration leads to a fresher style of wine: definitely no oak or barrel ageing here. And that means simpler tannins, which, when they are too full on, can let you down at the crunch moment when you think wine and cheese are about to get naked and sexy but an unexpected drinker’s droop rears its head, the awkward silence begins and everyone rushes for the nearest exit. Cheese and wine don’t always make it, despite your best intentions.
This Quesos guy, which also sports 10 percent Syrah for extra structure, is fresh and pure. Blackcurrant and plum protrude in the nose and at the back, green notes coming from stems, harking to the moment those whole bunches schmoozed together with grapes in a stainless steel tank. Bramble and blackcurrant come together in the mouth, vibrant and light, fresh, uplifting. This baby doesn’t need help standing on its own two feet.
Except it does. Because its fruity personality has been created to knock back with cheese. Throw in a farmhouse loaf or sourdough and we’re talking holy trinity. Cheddar, Roquefort, Morbier, Gouda, young, mature, slice up a favourite, open Quesos 2016, throw in ‘carbonic maceration’ to impress your guest, let the evening commence and hopefully end up naked. Also 235 pesos.
Special shoutout to me somm mates Amilcar Sola Feres and Camilo Leaño Ferreira for undertaking service at Club de Cocina Fernando Mayoral.