Buenos Aires – Nothing of major note in the food and wine world has happened (or been made to happen by me) in the last day or two, unless you count that now that I’ve got my kitchen equipment, I whipped up some pesto last night to go with pasta. Pesto here tends to be a strange imitation, like someone once heard about it but doesn’t quite know what it is – usually just pasta tossed with a little olive oil, garlic, and dried basil. I didn’t go for a traditional basil and pinenute one, I used what I had on hand, but got the right consistency for a cilantro and almond pesto served over ricotta and ham stuffed ravioli.
Before dinner, however, it was off to a little housewarming party for my friend Michael. He’s just recently moved into new quarters, which he terms “baronial,” an apt description for a spacious apartment with extraordinarily high ceilings. He’s sort of limited on the natural light phenomenon, most of the windows facing onto a courtyard, only one out into the world, so I’m going to take some plants off his hands for our patio. He put on a nice spread last night of little snacks, and popped some interesting bottles of wine.
Chandon “Eternum” 1999 – Moët & Chandon has a strong presence in the Argentine wine industry, making both sparkling and still wines here for many years. The Eternum is their top of the line sparkler from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, made in the classic methode champenoise style, and aged for a minimum of 3 years before release. Good depth, yeasty, a nice background of berry and apple fruit. Not surprisingly, tasting like a classic champagne. Highly recommended.
Champan Infinitus 2002 – Over the years, in various parts of the globe, there have been many attempts at creating sparkling wine from unusual grape varieties. From Patagonia, specifically the Rio Negro area, comes this, well, bizarre blend of Semillon and Pinot Gris. It honestly strikes me as one of those experimentation for experimentation’s sake products. There’s certainly nothing about either grape that would lend itself to the making of a quality sparkling wine – generally you want grapes with higher acidity. What comes out of the bottle tastes for all the world to me like those candied fruits used in holiday fruitcakes. Add a touch of paraffin (classic flavor out of Semillon), and you’ve got a fair sense of it. Not particularly recommended, except perhaps as an accompaniment to said fruitcake…
Tetelac Merlot 2003 – I admit to not being a major fan of most Merlot that’s out there (which last night got me accused by some German guest of being “a typical American wine snob just like that guy in Sideways.” Not. I like good Merlot. I have nothing against the grape. I just think that due to the last decade’s worth of consumer wine press that made Merlot overly fashionable there’s an overabundance of bad versions of it. This particular one wasn’t a bad version. It wasn’t outstanding, but for an inexpensive wine (14 pesos), it was pretty good. Nice red plum flavors, a touch of spice, not overoaked, perfectly quaffable. So there. Recommended.
Finca Algarve “Cinco Sentidos” Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 – From Mendoza comes this classic styled Cabernet for the “five senses.” Finca Algarve was founded in 1952, and currently grows about 128 acres of grapes. This wine shows classic cassis (red currant) flavors with a fairly strong touch of vanilla from new oak. It has a decent depth and good length. Recommended.