March 7, 2009
Last month, I had the pleasure of being invited to an Argentine Wine Seminar hosted by Steven Olson, aka wine geek. The seminar was part of a week of events (including a performance by Mary Wilson of the Supremes and a Celebrity Chef Ski Race) touted as "Beaver Creek's Celebration of all things culinary with Bon Appetit Magazine." The whole thing was hosted by the absolutely spectacular Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Bachelor Gulch with Wolfgang Puck's Spago Restaurant.
Steven Olson is wine and spirits consultant for Bon Appetit (among others), and his mission is to take the fear out of wine tasting and make it fun. And the seminar was just that–a fun, down-to-earth tour of Argentina through its wine regions, wine makers and, of course, the wines themselves. Everyone had a great time, including two ski bunnies at the back of the restaurant who were roaring drunk!
Sean Razee, the sommelier at Spago, accompanied us on our tour. We tasted 9 divine wines, ranging from a sparkling wine to a husky Malbec, with diverse flavors and from areas as far north as Salta. Olson and Razee spoke about tasting notes–as you'd expect at a wine tasting–but with Olson's commentary, we really had a couple hours of armchair travel. He spoke about the history of Argentina–how the first people to plant grapes were missionaries sent soon after the conquistadors, how the country's unique climate makes it the ideal place to grow some grapes but not others, and how after virtually disappearing internationally, Malbec was re-discovered in Argentina.
Passionately, Olson told of his visits to Susana Balbo's winery, Dominio Del Plata, and how her husband/enologist Pedro Marchevsky makes his ownwine, BenMarco. He spoke of the wine region in Mendoza called Tupungato, and about Trapiche Single Vineyard Malbec being given the name of the grower tending the vines year after year.
Just in case you're curious, the wines we enjoyed were:
TrapicheSparkling Exta Brut NV, Michel Torino Don David Torrontes 2007, BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, LucaSyrah 2006, Mapema Primera Zona 2002, Tikal Patriota 2006, Susana Balbo Malbec 2007, MendelMalbec 2006, and a Trapiche Single Vineyard Malbec Viña Fausto Orellana 2005. (All available in local liquor stores for around $30 average price!) We dined on Wolfgang Puck's famous woodfired pizza, and went on a virtual trip to Argentina wine country.
After the tasting, I was able to talk to Olson for a minute–to tell him how happy I was that he spoke with such emotion about Argentina (and its wines!)
"My wife's from Argentina!"
he said, and it all made sense–just like me, he had married into it! More proof that the passion and beauty of Argentina and its people are just impossible to resist.
Special thanks to Andrea Woroch, Katie Coakley, Parool Shah, and of course, Steven Olson.
More photos of this event are available on my flickr photostream, From Argentina With Love