Earlier this year a group of Enotria&Coe Account Managers made the trip to Argentina, to see what all the fuss was really about. While they expected it’d be an eye-opening journey into the heart of the country’s most famed wine regions, they didn’t quite anticipate just how remarkable the food experience would be. To give us a taste of their gastronomic adventure, Enotria&Coe Director of Sales Scotland and NE, Les Somerville, put pen to paper.
Food is a huge part of my life, this is clear through my developing waistband. The opportunity to be in Argentina and have a range of exceptional wine and cuisine was a dream come true. Yes, my preconception was Malbec and steak, but my eyes were opened to the regionality of both food and wine. This hit a true crescendo was when we visited the fantastic Espacio Trapiche, ‘Space Trapiche’ restaurant at the Trapiche winery in Mendoza.
Where this restaurant and Mendoza-born chef Lucas Bustos had our full attention, was when he started the conversation with the wine, and not the food. It was a great experience as he got out a black marker pen and started writing on the massive glass windows that showed the panoramic view of the orchard and farm, where all the fruit and veg cultivated under biodynamic practices is harvested.
Like any good wine tasting note, Lucas took us through the appearance, nose, structure, and finish. As he went through each stage, he’d ask us what food it made us think of, and what ingredients would complement the flavors, acidity, and weight of the wine. From here we ventured into the bountiful vegetable gardens, and started looking at what we could experiment with. Each group was given a different wine to play with, and as there were three groups one did starter, the other the main course, and finally dessert.
It was fantastic to watch the groups trying the finished products, as each of the dishes were born from a truly collaborative process. As a lover of fire, I was so impressed with the outdoor cooking areas – all locally sourced felled and dried wood that’s burnt down to its embers. These embers are then moved under a grill plate that can be lowered and risen depending on the heat you want to impart on the cooking.
The style of food has gained a name of ‘mountain-range cuisine’. Everything is locally sourced, in fact the only thing that I could find that wasn’t from Mendoza was the glassware. All the wines were from the Trapiche winery made lovingly by Daniel Pi (head winemaker), the food was all sourced from the land, and the wood from a nearby forestry. Not many meals of this quality have such traceability.
For a wine lover, using wine as the starting point when creating a menu was fantastic, and something I would love to see more restaurants experimenting with. The simplicity of grilling a carrot that you have pulled from the ground and getting a level of sweetness that matched the Chardonnay we were trying was just sublime. Simple food made with passion and understanding what each part of the dish brings to the table and glass.
I won’t go through the full menu as the food envy could get dangerous. We might not be able to provide you with the food, but I will look at all of the wines we tried in a different way, and the learning for how I will marry food and wine will be with me forever more.
Les (at least a stone heavier than when I left…)