Argentine/Kiwi cuisine at the same time? Lola&Simon, a restaurant in Hammersmith

I lived in Buenos Aires for 3 years back in the day so I know a bit about Argentine cuisine, even if I was a vegetarian for 2 of those 3  years. Yes, I know, how could I, was I mad, etc… One thing I can say is that I’m a pretty good judge of Argentine cuisine. I can also tell you that when I visited Gaucho at the O2, I was deeply disappointed. The food bearing only a passing resemblence to anything I’d ever eaten in BA. So, it was with some trepidation that I went to Lola & Simon, an Argentine/New Zealand (?, yes, I’ll get round to that in a second) restaurant in Hammersmith for the launch of their food and wine tasting menu. Lola & Simon is run by a charming Argentine/Kiwi couple, Nico and Kirstin – that’s where the NZ connection comes from. Their idea was to serve the best of these two Southern Hemisphere countries from the lamb and mussles of NZ to the steak and emapandas of Argentina. The wine list is also a mix of the two countries with over 50 wines currently on the list and they are set to add another 15 wines in the next few weeks. The specialize in the flagship varietals of each country, malbec from Argentina and pinot noir and sauvignon blanc from NZ. They are taking every step to ensure their customers can enjoy the wine at it’s best, even installing wine preservations machines behind the bar. Last week was the launch of the food and wine matching flights and platters. They’ve started with the malbecs and are offering 2 flights of 3 wines (50ml each) each paired with an Argentine ‘tapa’ (for lack of a better word). They’re calling it, Mad about Malbec. The first flight consisted of Picada 15, 2007 Malbec, Luigi Bosca 2006 Reserve Malbec and Rupestre 2004 Malbec/merlot/tannat blend. The Picada 15 malbec was paired with tasty grilled veg in a basalmic reduction. Full on...

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What a year it’s been! So long 2009, Hello 2010…

I’m not really one to look back, I’m either daydreaming about the future or looking forward to tonight’s wine – more or less the same thing. But I saw one of Niamh’s tweets about her year-end round-up and it got me to reminiscing about my vinous adventures this past  year. The great thing about a blog – I’ve got a record of many of my favourite drinking adventures. Not all of them mind you, because many I just never got around to blogging about but I did manage to put up almost 120 blog posts this year! I would have done more but I was computer-less over the summer after my laptop was stolen in June. This was definitely the year that The Winesleuth embraced video in all it’s gory messiness. Whether the videos made any sense, well, I’ll let you decide but I sure did have a lot of fun making them. I’d like to get a bit more creative in 2010 and maybe even, dare I say it, a bit more professional. My favourites of the year include ones I made with my good friend and fellow wineblogger Wine90 – she just cracks me up. Here we’re reviewing the Balfour Brut Rose…. But Bibendum Dan was another excellent foil, here we are talking about hairy armpit wines… Fun events, as when Catavino came to town and their winetasting at Vinoteca… [viddler id=74e84e69&w=437&h=333] or the Naked Wines Argentine wine auction….. [viddler id=f70e4865&w=437&h=392] and then there’s just amusing and charming winemakers…Etienne Hugel of the Alsatian winemaker Hugel & Fils… [viddler id=9fe1ae3d&w=437&h=392] and Neil McGuigan of the Australian McGuigan Vineyards, to name a few… [viddler id=49575c47&w=437&h=392] And, of course, the vids of my wine reviews, my favourite has to be one I did in S. Carolina while I was on holiday – every time I see it, it reminds me of what a great holiday I had… Of course there was Twitter as well and the Foodies, most especially Eatlikeagirl with whom I did the...

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Torrontes on the beach

It’s amazing how easy it is to waste time on Twitter! As much as I love it, it can be a distraction. For example, I got up at noon today (really, I’m an early riser, well 9-ish most days but I’m still recovering from jet lag) all ready to finish off this here post and then the little bird started chirping at me. Should I look? Oh, wait, I see a mention, ok, just one peek. Good morning to you @andrewshot. Ok, back to work. Another chirp. WHAT?!! Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize? Gotta tweet my remarks on that. Ok, back to work. Maybe I should do #Follow Friday? And so it goes….ANYWAY…. Right before my holiday, I went to the Argentine wine trade tasting in London and had quite a few surprisingly delicious wines made from the white varietal, torrontes. I say surprisingly because when I lived in Buenos Aires, the torrontes served up there was truly horrid.  But I digress…torrontes is claimed by Argentina as it’s flagship white wine. No one knows how it got to Argentina but recent DNA profiling suggests it’s a relative of malvasia and most likely came over with the Spanish missionaries back in the day. Either way, it’s the white that Argentina calls it’s own. Somehow it ended up on a tiny little island in the Calibogue Sound off the the coast of S. Carolina. Yeah, the Argentines have reached even remote Haig Point on Daufauskie Island. I spotted the Crios 2007 Torrontes made by Susannah Balbo, one of the most well known and respected winemakers in Argentina on the Calibogue Restaurant winelist and had to order it. The Crios line is her effort to produce reasonably priced, drinkable wine. We had some for lunch on our next to last day of vacation… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Naked Wines auction at the Argentina trade tasting

What if you were set loose on a trade tasting with 1000’s of wines to try and you had to pick just 10 to put on your winelist? How do you do it? You could go the old boring route and try all those wines or you could recruit a bunch of willing tasters to pick those wines for you. Which is exactly what Naked Wines did at the recent Wines of Argentina trade tasting. Naked wines invited 60 of their Naked Angels (people who sponsor and buy wine from specific winemakers on the Naked site)  to the Wines of Argentina trade tasting to choose 10 wines out of roughly 100 staff picked wines to add to the Naked Wines website. We were divided up into teams with a list of 25 wines each and set loose on the tasting. We then ranked the wines. The top 10 wines were tried and we then set a price as to how much we would pay for each of those particular wines. Where does the auction part come in? After the tasting of the top 10 wines, Naked gathers all of our prices and comes up with an average which then becomes the starting price for the wine. There is a £100,000 pot which is divided up amongst the wines based on how close the reps come to Naked’s price. It’s a rather complicated algorithm they use but it gets the job done. The reps are then brought in and the auction begins – Naked makes an offer and the  reps counter offer and so on and so forth for about 45 minutes when the auction is declared over and we get to see how much of each wine was bought. One of my favourite wines at the tasting was La Poderosa 2006 produced by Bodega del Fin del Mundo (which means bottom of the world) in Patagonia.  A rich, full bodied red, loads of ripe black fruits and silky smooth, a blend of malbec, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and tannat, it is the powerful one and even though it was an ’06,...

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And now for something a little different… Argentine pinot noir, Torino ’08

I don’t know what it is but recently whether knowingly or not, I’ve been encountering organic wine everywhere. I was out to dinner with fellow wineblogger, Sarah of Wine90, the other night and she spotted an Argentine pinot noir on the wine list. Now I know Chilean pinot noir’s quite well, even had some very good stuff from Cono Sur  the other day but Argentina is not my go-to place for South American pinot so it was with a bit of hesitation that I agreed to order it. The Michel Torino vineyards are located in the northeastern province of Salta, in the foothills of the Andes.  The vineyards are some of the highest in the world, over 1700 m above sea level, nestled in the Cafayate Valley. The vineyards get over 350 days of sunshine a year but because of the altitude there are plenty of cool breezes to cool down the grapes and because it is isolated on all sides by desert, it makes the region virtually free of viruses and pests, enabling Michel Torino to practice organic wine production. They’ve been certified organic since 2006. So I ordered the Michel Torino 2008 ‘Coleccion’ Pinot Noir. It certainly was like no other pinot noir I’ve had before. It wasn’t bad at all, as a matter of fact, it was very well made but it certainly wasn’t what we were expecting. It was quite an intense deep ruby colour. I thought it was smooth but medium bodied whilst Sarah thought it was more medium to full bodied. We both agreed that there wasn’t much of a nose, I got some minerality, loads of rocks and dirt but not much fruit. I was really trying hard but just didn’t get much and neither did Sarah. The taste however was some intense berry flavours coming out of the glass. Dark berries, blueberries, berries,berries, berries! I was diggin the intensity of the fruit. The finish was toasty and nutty and I even detected a bit of dark cholocate. Nice balance of acidity kept it from being an overblown fruitbomb. For me, it didn’t have...

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Pertaringa Undercover Shiraz ’05 & Mendel Malbec ’06

One of the advantages of working in a wine shop has got to be customer tastings. Not only do we get to try the wines but it’s also a great opportunity to talk with our customers,  to get an understanding of what consumers are looking for in their weekly wine shop. I also love the look on people’s faces when they try a wine for the first time and discover something new. I definitely get a sense of satisfaction when they enjoy one of my recommendations. What if they like the wine and I don’t? Well,  I’ve learned to be quite diplomatic in my critiques and of course, if they don’t like it, then I let rip and steer them to wines I think they’d like. We had two wines on tasting the other day, one I loved and the other? Meh. What surprised me the most was the wine I liked was an Australian shiraz and the wine I wasn’t crazy about was an Argentine malbec. Usually my tastes run the exact opposite so it’s always eye-opening to revisit a style or grape I thought I knew and discover something totally different. I do like Australian wines but when I actually buy wine, Australia is not my go-to place. That is until the Pertaringa ’05 Undercover Shiraz came around. Pertaringa is a small boutique vineyard in the McLaren Vale in South Australia and most of their shiraz is used as a blending grape for other wineries in the McLaren Vale, hence the name “Undercover” since it’s an unbilled player in those blends. The Undercover is 100% shiraz, they’re not pullling any punches here. The first thing that hit me was ripe, red raspberries! Loads of  them mixed up with a heady creamy scent. An image of raspberry ice cream jumped into my head. Very fruity nose, I was loving the aromas coming up from the bottom of the glass. On the palate more of those ripe, raspberries but not jammy which I detest in New World...

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