Wines of Argentina Barullo Festival in London

For four days in October, Wines of Argentina recently hosted their Barullo Festival, celebrating the country’s finest music, art, wine, and of course, food, with Michelin 2* chef Mauro Colagreco.

It’s not every day that you get to sample the products of 40 of Argentina’s best winemakers from every region so I go along to JJ Studios in Bethnal Green, to see what’s on offer. I start with the whites and the Torrontes grape is particularly well represented, although there’s some Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and even Pinot Grigio. I like the Momentos del Valle Torrontes from the Gouguenheim Winery which is strongly aromatic, with hints of peach, orange and grapefruit citrus.

Of course Argentina is more famous for its reds and the Malbecs, in particular, don’t disappoint although the Reserva Pinot Noir from Bodega del Fin del Mundo impresses. My star Malbec is from Bodega Malma, in Patagonia, and their 2014 Malma Reserva de Familia Malbec has strong aromas of ripe plums and blackberries with soft notes of violets. In the mouth I get ripe fruit, prunes, with hints of spices and vanilla, and there’s a long finish, elegant and balanced.

To keep the hunger at bay there are excellent small plates created by Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco, who’s 2* restaurant Mirazur is in the south of France. Succulent strips of steak with a circle of red pepper, sea bass ceviche and prawn with gazpacho are some the dishes I keep returning to. Music is provided by Coiffeur and Ibiza Pareo, two of Argentina’s hottest acts, and the walls display contemporary art direct from La Boca’s famed Barro gallery.

After 90 minutes of tastings we troop upstairs for a 4 course dinner prepared by Mauro Colagreco, which includes an additional selection of premium wines. The amuse bouche is Patagonian spider crab with grapefruit and avocado wrapped in a sort of delicate spring roll. That’s followed by delicious scallops resting on slices of pumpkin, with a coconut milk foam.

Lamb from Patagonia is the main course, cooked until it’s falling apart, topping a mixture of sweet potato, dates, caramelized shallots with sesame sauce. For desert there’s orange blossom sorbet with almond foam and then a selection of petit-fours.

The dinner is excellent but even better is the selection of premium wines, which just keep on coming. We end up surrounded by bottles and of course are completely spoilt for choice. It’s difficult to keep track but a strong favourite is the Andeluna Pasionada Cuatro Cepas 2012, a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. There are aromas of ripe red fruits typical of Malbec, the spiciness of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, plus delicate hints of anise from the Cabernet Franc. On the evidence of this evening, Argentina certainly knows what it’s doing with its wines.

Wines of Argentina has more information.