Maybe “smashing” is too strong a word, but when I sat down with Aurelio Montes Jr., winemaker for Argentina’s Kaiken Winery, he did want to make a point regarding Cabernet Sauvignon.
To defy the preconception that Argentine Cabernet tends to age in a manner akin to falling off a cliff (cue Aurelio making a dramatic swoop of his hand to demonstrate the concept) to its death, he brought along a bottle of the 2007 Kaiken “Ultra” Cabernet Sauvignon for me to taste. It’s the kind of wine at a very interesting and exciting point. Just enough bottle age to start waking from its youthful slumber but still in all possession of fruit-forward charm and freshness.
Aurelio and I talked about the ubiquitousness of Malbec in Argentina and he shared with me the three “battles” he’s fighting to get people to know and appreciate a diversity of red wine grapes. He’s got his gloves on for Bonarda, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. (Stay tuned.) Discussing the latter grape, which you’ll find in his 2011 Malbec-based “Terroir Series” blend that also includes Bonarda, he called it “the rugby player”. Which I think is the most awesome description of Petit Verdot, ever.
But since we don’t live by red wine alone, I also got the chance to try the 2013 Kaiken Torrontes. It’s a very floral, aromatic grape that can become soapy and perfume-y when it gets too ripe. Gross. Not that I have anything against the finest of hand-milled soaps or the most sublime of fragrances, I just don’t want them in my wine. The secret to Aurelio’s zesty version? He picks the grapes early so the wine isn’t heavy or flabby.
One final thing I learned has to do with food. The 2011 Kaiken “Ultra” Malbec was a really nice match with some chicken liver pâté dabbed onto toast and topped with a touch of mostarda. (The interview took place at Seattle’s Sazerac Restaurant, BTW.) Actually, all the red wines went well with it. The rich and creamy spread was a nice compliment to wines that displayed both power and drinkability.
So the moral of the story? Argentina: MORE THAN MALBEC.
(But the Malbec can be really good.)
Aurelio explains how Feng Shui keeps his wines happy over on Vindulge.best pate seattle, best torrontes, cabernet argentina vintage, kaiken winery, pairing wine with chicken liver pate