Despite the fact that truly innovative cooking in Mendoza is a yet to-be-discovered El Dorado, the steak is so good, the wine so juicy, and the Italian tradition so alive and well that even if Michelin is still only a rubber tyre in these parts, there’s much to be said for Mendoza’s food and wine. Argentina made history last month by winning the most International Trophies at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2011 by any single country since the competition began.
It was a happy coincidence that New Zealand staged two important wine events in the lead up to tomorrow's Rugby World Cup final. The first was the annual new release tasting that gives the press a sneak peek at the new vintage while the harvest in Europe is barely under way. The second was a review of Craggy Range with the big (for New Zealand) cheese, Steve Smith MW. If you don't know Craggy Range, get acquainted, because I can't think of another wine company that's managed to roll Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire and Rhône styles into one harmonious group of wines so successfully.
It had taken a while for Arthur van Hoogstraten, who ‘won’ me at the last Independent charity auction, and I, to sync diaries. After scanning the options, Arthur plumped for the tasting of Clark Foyster (www.clarkfoysterwines.co.uk) followed by a seminar on terroir with the Plaimont Co-operative. I was delighted because Clark Foyster is member of the bright new Dirty Dozen group I recently mentioned and only sells wines that its affable MD, Lance Foyster MW, believes in.
Was it the prospect of the Dirty Dozen yapping at their heels that prompted The Bunch to pull out the stops at their autumn tasting a fortnight ago? Let me explain. The Dirty Dozen is a new grouping of some of the UK’s top independent wine importers, the Bunch an association that’s been going strong for a little while now. No-one’s suggesting that the Bunch has been resting on its laurels, far from it, but The Dirty Dozen is a new force in the land.
Spanish wine sales are up, we are told, thanks to Spain’s new flamboyant image. Marks & Spencer recently reported a 200% increase on last year and Spanish sales at Waitrose are 40% up. Various reasons have been suggested, from sangria nostalgia to the heroics of Rafa and the brilliance of Spain’s peerless world cup squad. What better example of Spanish excellence is there after all? Well, Cruz, Bardem and Almodovar apart, food and wine of course. El Bulli’s Ferran Adrià and the UK’s tapas bar and sherry revolution have done much to shine a new light on the huge strides made in Vino Español.