Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Drink

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Drink

Article excerpt

Rich and opulent, Argentinian wines are delicious with barbecued steak

Christine says firmly: "The first thing I learned about Argentina was that you always need dental floss." She has a point. After a day sucking Malbec, my teeth are solidly black. "What's for dinner?" she asks. "Ah, steak. Is it as big as my head?" It is. Well, nearly. And it is my fourth steak in two days. Even the late Robert Atkins never prescribed this much protein.

Argentina doesn't do things by halves. The country is vast: a land mass more than five times the size of Spain, populated by a mere 38 million. In the east it curls round the Atlantic and in the west it rises up to form the Andes and Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the western hemisphere. The northern provinces swelter in subtropical heat while the remote, disturbing landscape of Tierra del Fuego in the south suggests the icy ends of the earth. In the province of Mendoza, which produces 69 per cent of Argentina's wine, some wineries are so grandiose, they would make fine burial chambers for an Egyptian pharaoh.

It seems right that the better wines should be rich and opulent, thick with flavour and with so many big ideas that they almost need a punch on the nose to calm them down. They are most delicious when drunk with Argentina's favourite food, asado - barbecued meat. As the weather seems to be brightening up, I thought it would be appropriate to recommend a few here.

Malbec, the grape usually associated with Argentina, produces dark, luscious, oak-aged wines with headily sweet scents of freshly opened raspberry jam, cedar and plummeting depths of black fruit. …

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