Kobrand Distributors and Alta Vista wines from Argentina hosted a luncheon at the Four Seasons in Miami recently, to present the Alta Vista portfolio. Chef Aaron Brooks created a stunning menu designed to highlight the best of each wine; when we spoke to him after the lunch, he confirmed that he had been able to try the wines to develop the pairings and it showed.
Patrick D’Aulan, owner of Alta Vista, was present to provide a background of how the wines were produced and the philosophy of the wines. Mr. D’Aulan from France, with quite a pedigree in the wine world. He is originally from Champagne, with family history extended back to 13th century European nobility. His family owned famed Champagne house Piper-Heidsieck until it’s sale in 1998. D’Aulan made it a point to highlight the French influence on these and other Argentine wines. It was an interesting (and delectable) afternoon.
The wines presented were the Alta Vista:
- 2011 Classic Chardonnay
- 2011 Premium Torrontes
- 2010 Classic Cabernet
- 2010 Classic Malbec
- 2010 Premium Cabernet
- 2010 Premium Malbec
- 2009 Terrior Select Malbec
- 2009 Single Vineyard Seranede Malbec
- 2007 Alta Vista Alto Malbec/Cab Blend
The first course was a Florida Snapper Carpaccio, with aji Amarillo, green apple, celery leaf, and cilantro. The flavors of the dish blended quite well; the apple was sliced so thin that I first thought it was a cucumber. The aji added a nice tart note to the somewhat sweeter flesh of the fish.
This dish was paired with their 2011 Classic Chardonnay and their 2011 Premium Torrontes. The Chardonnay had a slight minerality on the nose, with floral notes, hints of honey, and a teensy bit of smoke; that was a bit odd, as the wine gets no oak, but it did create an interesting highlight to the aroma. On the palate, the wine was juicy, with decent acidity. It was a bit tart, with citrus and a bit of orange blossom, a hint of unripe yellow peach, and some pear that showed up on the finish.
The Torrontes had tropical aromas, with pineapple, some floral notes I could not pin down, a bit of honey and some petrol – it recalled a Riesling to our surprise. In the mouth, it had nice body – a bit more fleshy than a typical Torrontes, with vegetal, bitter white fruit, citrus peel, and some citrus oil. The flavor tended towards tropical fruits with a bitter edge that was not unpleasant. The finish was slightly bitter as is typical of this wine.
Both the Chardonnay and the Torrontes paired very nicely with the fish. I felt that the cilantro pushed the flavors to far towards the bitter, but without the herb, the flavors meshed very well. I give the edge in the pairing to the Torrontes; I felt it brought more character to the food, making it more flavorful, but either would be a good choice.
The next course was a House Smoked Pork Belly, but (unfortunately) pork and I do not get along, so the chef sent out a nicely seared scallop atop some polenta with grape tomatoes and a nice citrusy dressing. The wines to be paired with the planned dish were reds; their 2010 Classic Cabernet Sauvignon and their 2010 Classic Malbec. It turned out that the pairings worked just fine. The wines were a little more than the scallop could handle, but the combo of the smokiness of the scallop and the acidity of the tomatoes worked well.
My initial impression of the Cab was smoky dark fruit, with blackberries, a hint of rubber, boysenberry, and coffee. The flavors were slightly bitter, with cherries, a hint of cedar, a mouthfeel like you get when you eat bitter chocolate, espresso, and some very faint vegetal notes.
The Malbec has a mild nose, with a hint of sweet cherry, blackberries, and a bit of rubber. The texture was nice – smooth and pleasant without much tannins. I found dark fruits that reminded me of the flesh of dark plum when you bite near the skin, a bit of licorice and a little menthol.
The third course was Lamb Loin and Ribs, with butter braised sweet potatoes, black pepper jus, and English peas. Kudos to chef Brooks for this course! It was presented with their 2010 Premium Cabernet, their 2010 Premium Malbec, and their 2009 Terrior Select Malbec. All of the wines worked very nicely with the dish, but my standout by far was the Terrior Select Malbec. It really highlighted the smokiness of the meat, bringing out it’s lush flavor, while the food brought out more of the fruitness of the wine. It was a great pairing.
The nose of the cab was really rich and sexy. I got cherry, licorice, a hint of menthol and lots of blackberries. The body was quite pleasant; there were some tannins, with violet candy, a hint of menthol, cedar, licorice and black cherries. On the finish, the tannins popped up with a vengeance, along with bitter chocolate and some vegetal notes.
The Premium Malbec had strong cherry and dark fruits on the nose, with violets, some menthol, and in the background I could swear there was a bit of “panela” which is a Latin American type of brown sugar. The tannins were fairly mild, with licorice, boysenberry, some cedar on the finish, along with cherries and caramel. This wine had a nice body; it was juicy and rich.
The Terrior Select Malbec was probably my favorite of the day. It had a rich, rich nose that you wanted to crawl in to. The aromas were violets and chocolate, like you were smelling a rich, chocolaty dessert. Dark fruits, and a pleasant cedar wandered around with the rest. In the mouth, the wine was slightly bitter with some modest tannins, and hints of licorice, cherries, plums, and a bit of eucalyptus. The finish was pleasant, with smoke, cherries, and some “dusty” blueberries. Very nice.
The fourth course was a Fire Roasted Skirt Steak with piquillo pepper, fried baby potatoes, a fried egg (very Latin!) and arugula. It was served with a 2009 Single Vineyard Seranede Malbec and the 2009 Alta Vista Alto Malbec/ Cab blend. Both wines paired nicely with the dish, both with the meat along and in combination with the sides. There was no clear winner; both were delicious. I also though the Terrior Select Malbec from the previous course worked very well here also.
The Seranede had a rich nose with chocolate, a touch of talc, cherry, violates, and a little cedar. On the tongue, it had a “bright” flavor – it wasn’t tannic, and it (for lack of a better description) lit up my mouth. There were floral notes with a bit of expresso, some vegetal notes, and a little bitter aftertaste.
The Alta Vista had eucalyptus, blackberries, red licorice, a hint of cardamom, and a touch of espresso on the nose, with chocolate covered cherries, espresso in the mouth, with tart cherries showing up on the finish.