Last week I was invited to two tastings in one day – both for the same wines! The first was a casual sit down tasting at Canteen with Ryan Everitt and his guests the inimitable David Scholfield and the tall dark and handsome Antonio Morescalchi, the co- founder of Altos Los Hormigas in Argentina.
We tasted through a range of wines beginning with their wonderful Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda through their Malbec Terroir and ending with the single vineyard Malbecs from Uco Valley and Appellation Alta Mira. As usual, Frank and Andrea’s wonderful kitchen provided sublime snacks that not only paired well with the wines but offered different backdrops against which to sample all the wines. This kind of tasting greatly enhances a person’s personal flavour library and is educational on many levels.
Altos Los Hormigas is one of those lucky wineries in the world that consult with Pedro Parra, the reigning king of dirt. He is one of a handful of certified dirt scholars in the world andis responsible for a growing number of terroir driven wines. These wonderful wines demonstrate what is possible when the right vines are growing in just the right soil. In other words, they display (to use the words of Mr. Scholfield) an unmistakable “juicy minerality”.
You’ll know it when you taste it. The fruit and tannin will dance together in your mouth buoyed by balanced acidity and an earthiness that doesn’t over-power, but rather ties all the flavour elements subtly together on your very lucky palate. Wines like this require no expensive intervention like oak aging. They express their varietal characteristics and sense of ‘place’ with complexity and elegance without breaking the bank.
I showed up for the second tasting feeling a bit guilty. After all, I had already tasted the wine. Was it greedy to show up to taste them again? Luckily, I wasn’t the only one! We met at Listen Records on 124th Street and very casually tasted through all the wines again, this time accompanied by great music and Spinelli’s own house panini. If you had been out that night shopping 124th Street for hot vinyl you would have been offered a glass of truly sublime wine and a sandwich and you would have had a chance to meet some of the most interesting people in the wine business.
Wine, bread, cheese, meat, music and wonderful human interaction. It was not your average tasting. But this is the point I wanted to make.
When beautifully crafted wines come together with good food, music and great company it seems that unforgettable conversations naturally ensue. Aside from reminding me what an amazing community of wine lovers we have in this fair city, this day brought it home to me again that wine, like food and music is as much art as science. Wine events don’t have to be sit down affairs. They don’t have to be exclusive. Good wine and food, like good music, speaks to us. It tells us that it’s all okay and that there are pleasures in this world that are both world class and affordable indulgences.
Next time you’re shopping for wine, pick up a bottle of any of the available choices from Altos Los Hormigas. You’ll be handsomely rewarded for a relatively small outlay of your hard earned cash!
See also “A Tasting That Really Rocked”.