Sunday, October 17, 2010

Azafran & Pinot

Despite the fact that our day's wine tour included lunch at one of the most celebrated winery restaurants in Argentina - if not the world - we wanted to head out and see what Mendoza had to offer on the food front.

We'd both read and heard great things about Azafran (Spanish for "saffron"), so we figured we'd give it a go. This window into the kitchen wasn't at Azafran. It was at a restaurant that we passed on route, but it certainly gave us the impression that ordering some meat wasn't going to be a problem.

Azafran wasn't quite as forward in its proclamation that "meat rules." On the intimate side - and quaintly appointed with Argentine countryside antiques - it was packed though and we had to wait about 40 minutes to get a table as the restaurant was fully booked when we first arrived. And here I thought no one arrived for dinner before 9 p.m. Luckily they had a great little secondary bar across the street - a glass of bubble and of Torrontes was an easy way to pass the time.

One intriguing aspect of the restaurant was that it didn't have a wine list. Rather, they just escorted you to their wine cellar (that doubles as a wine store) and you could peruse the racks in order to pick that one bottle that you wanted from some 450 labels that were on offer. I guess this is one way to avoid worrying about having to continually update the wine list. I could easily have kept myself occupied for some time there but we'd already ordered our meals and Boo was left alone back at the table.

619. 2007 Rutini Trumpeter Reserve Pinot Noir (Mendoza - Argentina)

Boo jumped right into yet another side of beef, but I decided to try a squid ink risotto since I couldn't recall having ever seen or tried one previously. I also figured that there'd be plenty more opportunities for a little beef. Accordingly, I hoped to straddle both entrees with a lighter red. There weren't a lot of Pinot Noirs to choose from; it's not exactly the most common of grapes in Argentina - particularly in Mendoza. However, the sommelier recommended the Trumpeter. Knowing nothing about the winery, I decided to give it a whirl.

Turns out that Rutini was started and is still operated by yet another long-established family of Italian immigrants. I couldn't find much about the wine as I think the Pinot Noir varietal must be a fairly new product for the winery. I didn't see any reference to or specific notes for a Pinot on their website portfolio of wines; however, I note that it's a recent 2007 vintage. Pinot Noir has never been that notable as a varietal in Mendoza - or in the country as a whole; however, some wineries are starting to look at it as a varietal to be attemped in new areas being opened up.

The wine was 100% Pinot and, according to the website, the winery does have 5 acres of Pinot Noir vines planted in the higher Tupungato region of the province. There was no mistaking this as a Burgundian knock-off though. Finesse or subtlety was hardly a descriptive trait of the wine - perhaps bold, aromatic and fruity are a little more accurate. I actually found it to be so New World in its outlook that it didn't really meet the profile that I'd been looking for. It wasn't a bad wine but it wasn't exactly what I'd term "true to the varietal." True to form though, we had no problem finishing off the bottle.

We did have to head on back to the Wine Floor though to grab a few winks before our next and final day out in the vineyards. Where was the time going?

No comments:

Post a Comment