Reds from Chile and Argentina perfect for with a spicy steak sandwich


Seeing as we are all likely to be stuck at home for the next while, I’ve been looking to other cultures and far off wine regions for inspiration.

So we are ‘off to Latin America’ this week. I’ve played it a little safe with wines from Chile and Argentina but watch for the Garzon range from Uruguay also, their Tannat and Albariño have both appeared here. What inspired this column was a copy of the Latin American Cookbook by Virgilio Martínez (Phaidon €40) — a hugely interesting journey through the cuisines of Latin America.

I visited Brazil a few years ago and both Argentina and Chile in more recent times and I’ve eaten very well everywhere — so just as we match Touraine Goat’s cheese with Sancerre you might find it useful to look to the cooking of Latin America to match its wines.

Mexico figures strongly, as you might expect, but Brazilian, Peruvian and Argentinian chefs have been hugely influential in recent years and you will find lots of classic recipes here from other Latinate countries. Chilean fish stews, Peruvian Ceviche and Ecuadorian Shrimp with Coconut Sauce will all match a Chilean Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc perfectly. At Ballymaloe LitFest a few years ago the Argentinian chef, Francis Mallman, rather wowed the crowds with his slow fired beef and lamb — a recipe for Stake Roasted Lamb sounds like the perfect holiday project if the weather turns milder and a fine match for Malbec or perhaps Bonarda.

Some of the local recipes have ingredients that may be difficult to find: Fried Guinea Pig (Peru), Large Bottomed Ants (Colombia) and Maguey Worm Tacos (Mexico) being some examples. But other recipes involve local twists on things we already know such as the wheat flour Johnny Cakes from Belize and Honduras made with coconut milk — perhaps for Stephen’s Day breakfast with a glass of fizz.

There are deals continuing in most of the online wine shops and larger retailers over the weekend. TheAllotment.ie has 15% off selected wines, O’Briens have a range of wines and spirits on offer including Red Breast Single Malt at an impressive €55. TheCorkscrew.ie has gadgets as well as wines in its sale including a top of the range blue Coravin wine extractor reduced from €349 to €199.

Selections this week are all reds from Chile and Argentina and perfect for matching Empanadas, Brazilian Beef Croquettes, Uruguayan beef and noodle stew or perhaps a Bolivian Steak Schnitzel.

Wines Under €15

Aresti Trisquel Assemblage Gran Reserva, Curicó Valley, Chile — €10.70
Aresti Trisquel Assemblage Gran Reserva, Curicó Valley, Chile — €10.70

Aresti Trisquel Assemblage Gran Reserva, Curicó Valley, Chile — €10.70

Stockist: SuperValu

Varietal wines are frequently what draws people to Chile but winemakers often show off their best skills with their blends and I’d like to see more of them. This is a mix of around 43% each of Cabernet and Syrah plus a little Petit Verdot and has big red and black fruit aromas and flavours mixed with touches of anise, eucalyptus and chocolate. Try with a steak sandwich with a spicy filling.

Aresti Trisquel Syrah, Maipo, Chile — €10.70
Aresti Trisquel Syrah, Maipo, Chile — €10.70

Aresti Trisquel Syrah, Maipo, Chile — €10.70

Stockist: SuperValu

A number of Aresti wines are on offer in SuperValu for Christmas including this Syrah which is a steal at this price (at full price it costs €15.99). Syrah suits Chile well and this is a good example — black fruit aromas mixed with a touch of mint and berry fruits; darker fruits on the palate with touches of spice, toast and vanilla and good balancing acidity. Perfect Empanadas wine.

San Pedro 1865 Carménère 2018, Maule Valley, Chile — €13
San Pedro 1865 Carménère 2018, Maule Valley, Chile — €13

San Pedro 1865 Carménère 2018, Maule Valley, Chile — €13

Stockist: Dunnes Stores

Carménère is a signature grape of Chile and as long as you don’t mind a little leafiness is worth a try as the best versions manage to mix black fruits with freshness. This is reduced from €16.50 in Dunnes for the season and has dark plum and blackcurrant aromas with tomato leaf and tobacco notes — bright and fruity with berry fruits and pleasing acidity and texture.

Wines Over €15

Catena Malbec 2015, Mendoza, Argentina — €19.95
Catena Malbec 2015, Mendoza, Argentina — €19.95

Catena Malbec 2015, Mendoza, Argentina — €19.95

Stockists: JJ O’Driscolls, O’Donovans, No. 21, Ardkeen, Vintry, NOffLA Independents.

This won the gold in the recent Gold Star Awards for best red under €20. From vineyards of approximately 1000m above sea level Catena are another favourite of mine. Deep dark red colour with lots of mineral tinged bright red and black fruit aromas and flavours with a pleasing spicy kick. Elegant and a restrained at 13.5% ABV.

Trapiche Terroir Series Finca ‘Ambrosia’ 2015, Uco Valley, Argentina — €39.95
Trapiche Terroir Series Finca ‘Ambrosia’ 2015, Uco Valley, Argentina — €39.95

Trapiche Terroir Series Finca ‘Ambrosia’ 2015, Uco Valley, Argentina — €39.95

Stockists: Martins.ie, Vintry, Redmonds, Independents.

This is one of the best Malbecs I’ve tasted all year and it is good to see a bit of age on a current release. Every year Trapiche picks three vineyards from more than 200 Uco Valley growers for this release and the 2015 has a black centre with aromas of forest floor, leather and mature fruits, inky and rich with dried figs on the finish. Worth seeking out.

Pyros Malbec, Appellation Pedernal Valley, Argentina — €23.99
Pyros Malbec, Appellation Pedernal Valley, Argentina — €23.99

Pyros Malbec, Appellation Pedernal Valley, Argentina — €23.99

Stockists: Bradleys, World Wide Wines, Vintry, O’Donovans, Independents.

Pyros is one of Argentina’s most reliable producers and has recently appointed a new young winemaker Paula Gonzáles. The Pedernal Valley is a unique limestone vineyard at 1,400 metres above sea level on poor alluvial soil so vines have to dig deep. Smoky ripe dark plum and blackcurrant aromas with softer blackberry fruits on the palate but with fine grip, finesse and concentration.

Whiskey of the Week

Kinsale Red Earl Irish Whiskey, 40% ABV, 70cl — €40
Kinsale Red Earl Irish Whiskey, 40% ABV, 70cl — €40

Kinsale Red Earl Irish Whiskey, 40% ABV, 70cl — €40

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, Bradleys, SuperValu, Carry-Outs

Kinsale Spirit Company has hit the ground running. Plans for a distillery are afoot and already in their range they have three whiskies and a 21 botanical gin — watch for the Single Grain ‘Great Earl’ aged in Sangiovese Cask and the Single Malt ‘Spanish Earl’ in Stout Cask.

The Red Earl is named for Red Hugh O’Donnell, who fled Ireland after the Battle of Kinsale and is buried near Rioja — so, of course, this is finished in Rioja casks (following ageing in bourbon and sherry casks). Vanilla and light honey aromas with a hint of smoke and spice, more honey on the palate with red fruits coming through and a spicy finish.

 



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