After moving to Buenos Aires I quickly learned that in this city, you have to “know a guy” to be included in exclusive underground restaurants. What I didn’t know is that this can also apply to wine tastings. Thankfully, I “know a guy” (well, a girl): my friend Gina, who runs Palermo Cupcakery, was kind enough to invite me to a wine tasting at Vinoteca Caballito. As with most everything else when it comes to living in a new country, I had no idea what to expect. As with everything to do with wine in Argentina, I was pleasantly surprised.
Crowded into their tiny retail space slightly larger than my bathroom, roughly thirty of us passed glasses and empanadas over heads, poured wines over shoulders, sipped wines while being careful not to bump our neighbors and formed a bucket brigade when switching from champagne-to-wine-to-port. (Talk about “bumping elbows” with the wine crowd!) I stood squished against the counter, which is exactly where I wanted to be: close enough to hear the breakdowns of each of the fabulous wines we were tasting.
A highlight of the tasting was a sparkling by Familia Perulan, which is made from Malbec and Tannat. It was a fabulous twist on the traditional sparkling wine, which is typically made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier. The Malbec and Tannat grapes imparted a much stronger, fruity flavor and gave the wine a fuller body than typical Argentine sparkling wines. Good stuff!
Another highlight of the tasting was the 2006 Garcia Ricardi Coupage. Never before have I tasted a wine whose aroma and flavor did not match up: the nose of the Coupage was raisin, plum, fig and other dark, mature fruits… based solely on the smell, I was sure that the wine would be a syrup-like last harvest wine. I was in for a shock when I tasted it and found that it was actually like on the palate, with nice acidity and a much less full-bodied feel than what I had expected! It was a pleasant surprise. I would highly recommend this wine with rich chocolate desserts: the dark, ripe fruit flavors will accompany the flavor of the chocolate, but the acidity of the wine will cut the richness and beg for you to take another bite. Plus, because the wine is so different than most on the market, your guests will be excited that they tried something new. Chances are, they haven’t tried either of these wines: as far as I know, neither of these incredibly small productions even have a website… although I did find a great company called Anuva Wines which imports the Familia Perulan to the United States and the UK.