jamie goode's wine blog: Malbec and meat - a heavenly marriage

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Malbec and meat - a heavenly marriage

Did you know that the annual consumption of beef by an adult in Argentina is 68 kilograms? Incredible. Someone has worked out that this equates to a seven ounce steak each, every day.

Today I was one of the judges at the finals of the Malbec Made for Meat competition, held at the Gaucho, Piccadilly. The Gaucho is a wonderful Argentinean restaurant which also has a wine shop attached to it, Cavas de Gaucho. [Pictured are fellow judges sitting opposite me: Victoria Moore has her mouth full, Anthony Rose is reaching to select the perfect match, and Peter Richards is jotting down his.]

Our task was to taste 14 wines (the finalists) blind with three different meats: pork, lamb and beef, assiging a score to the quality of the match ranging from 1 (poor) to 5 (sublime). It was an interesting exercise, and even more so because there was a steak and Malbec masterclass sandwiched in the middle of the proceedings.

In this masterclass, Gaucho beef expert Ryan Hattingh showed us the different cuts, discussed their merits, told us how to prepare them best - and then we got to eat them. There was loads and loads of steak to munch, and it was lovely. Each of the five different steaks were then matched with a specific Malbec, and the pairing was brilliant in all but one of the cases.

I came away from the session full of meat, and impressed by how well Argentinean Malbec and steak works as a pairing. Malbec and rare Patagonian lamb also works well, but perhaps not as spectacularly, and Malbec and pork is merely an adequate match in most cases. A full write up on the beef and Malbec masterclass will follow promptly on the main bit of the site.

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At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Sounds fun! - and nice to get a glimpse of Ms Moore (of the infamous "swooping paving stones" mis-quote).

Looking forward to the detailed report

At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

Maybe the last comment should be slightly clarified. When you say that Malbec and pork is merely an adequate match you would only be referring to Argentinean interpretation of this grape. Back in Cahors, pork and lamb are far better partners as Malbec from this region is lighter, possesses a more savoury, herbal/garrigue-scented quality and has generally much higher acidity.

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

I reckon Gaucho is very expensive and it amazes me how busy it always seems to be.
They have opened one in Richmond but after a couple of meals there costing me well over 75 for 2 without wine,I have decided not to invite you there!!
Cannot understand why so many people are happy to pay these charges and the usual inflated wine rip off

P.S Jamie it is a pain having to type those characters every time you wish to post

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Keith, I've disabled the character verification of comments for your benefit - the reason I implemented it is because of increasing comment spam - with 600 posts that are well referenced by google, lots of people were spamming, which makes work for me deleting them. But my duty is towards valued readers like you, and so I'll accommodate your requests. Agreed - Gaucho is v good but not cheap.

Doug, you are right again. How predictable!

Alex, glad to oblige. Remind me - what was the paving stones bit?

At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

I think there was a review she did of some Sicilian wine where she mentioned "reaking of hot paving slabs" or something like that, and a few members of wine-pages thought they'd take the piss (Not quite sure where the swooping came from). Anyway, I've always thought she had pretty good taste for a journalist.

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous malcolmwilliamson said...

Alex's comment has prompted me to google for Ms Moore's note.
It was on Calatrasi's Nero d'Avola Villa Thalia, the house wine in Locanda Locatelli.

"Made from a very voguish and outlandishly distinctive grape, it has a provocative kind of sexiness, like a black-haired, deep-throated Sicilian girl. It reeks of baking hot paving stones, liquorice, sun blazing down on tarmac and purple fruits so ripe their skins are almost splitting."

As a fellow scientist I guess that the use of such evocative prose in your TNs has been educated out of you Jamie.

At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Y'see - I think that's a great TN!

At 9:57 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

I think it's a fantastic tasting note. Really. But I simply can't start talking about sexy sicilian girls in my own tasting notes. I'd be accused of all sorts of things.

More seriously, metaphor is the way to go in tasting notes. Much better than lists of descriptors.

At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Alastair Bathgate said...

I agree that Malbec and Argentinean steak go together beautifully and nowhere more so than the various branches of the Gaucho Grill.
But why are the wine prices such a rip-off? Consider a Susana Balbo Malbec at 43.75 on the Gaucho menu, 18.75 in their off licence in Piccadilly, yet at the Wine Society it is less than 12!


At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

Alastair----do you know a restaurant in London that does not rip its customers off?--------Gaucho succeeds with food and wine but it is still very popular.
Mind you I bet the forthcoming recession or slowdown will sort some of these greedy buggers out.

At 10:42 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

I think those prices are fairly steep considering (remember Gaucho ship many of their wines directly and buy the rest on a special discounted rate).

Keith - you will be relieved to hear that there is an embryonic countervailing culture in London which has a more enlightened attitude to restaurant mark-ups. However, these places are run by passionate restaurateurs and not by a bunch of refried bean-counters who measure out their lives in gross profit margins.

At 4:24 AM, Blogger Salil said...

I'll have to give Argentinian Malbec a few more tries. I was unimpressed with the few I've sampled, and didn't get the quality for price I'd heard so much about.

Right now though, my go-to wine with lamb or steak has been anything from the Rhone - a region I'm really getting into for the sheer variety and the amazing range of values (like an 05 Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone I had last week for $15, which was one of the most impressive red I've ever had at that price point).

At 6:30 AM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

Yes Salil----Rhone Rocks!!!
had another bottle of Charvin CDR 2000 last night.Great value at less than 8 a bottle.


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