Over the years we have attended many outstanding wine pairing dinners. But few have compared to the Argentine Ruca Malen wine pairing dinner recently held at Rural Society in Washington, DC. The six course dinner was jointly planned and flawlessly executed by Ruca Malen’s Executive Chef, Lucas Bustos, Rural Society’s chef, Luis Goral, and Ruca Malen’s winemaker, Pablo Cuneo. The menu was a tribute to the cooking techniques and products used by the Mapuche people, native to Argentina. For every course, participants were treated to a Ruca Malen wine and two magnificent dishes, one from the Ruca Malen Restaurant repertoire, the other from the Rural Society’s kitchen.
Here are some of the highlights of this magnificent dinner and our comments on the pairings:
The Yauquen 2015 Torrontes was paired with Zapalitos, a superb marinated squash dish and an ingenious Pulpo Carpaccio, a sliced octopus dish with sun dried tomatoes prepared by Luis Goral. The citrus of the Torrontes worked well with the squash dish, but the octopus dish received an A grade for creativity and flavor.
A Yauquen 2014 Malbec was paired with a Cornejo en Vino, a Malbec-braised rabbit and Angolotti de Provoleta, stuffed dumplings with a chorizo ragu. The basic Malbec was young and fruity and was a perfect foil for the rabbit. However, the pasta dish was extraordinary all by itself.
The 2014 Reserva Malbec was paired with cured beef tenderloin and a Malbec syrup created by Chef Lucas Bustos The magnificent beef was accompanied by an Humita, a sweet corn tamale dish with Sardo cheese that caused a riot at our table. It was so tasty that we all wanted second helpings. The Reserva Malbec with its big structure and tannins was an ideal accompaniment to the beef.
A 2013 Reserva Petit Verdot was one of the standout wines of the evening. Its purity of flavor, silky texture, and perfect balance were lauded by everyone in our group. Its pairing with veal osso buco and richly wood-grilled carrots was perfect.
For the main course participants were treated to the 2011 Kinien de Don Raúl, a delicious blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Syrah which was paired with Grilled beef tenderloin, quinoa, smoked corn pure and setas, grilled wild mushrooms. The Kinien, which is an international style red blend showed well with the beef tenderloin. The setas were also divine.
This extraordinary dinner concluded with a dreamy Torta de Dulce de Leche cake and blackberry sorbet washed down with Ruca Malen’s Brut, a sparkling wine of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay made by the metode champenoise.
Readers who are travelling to Argentina should plan a visit to Lujan de Cuyo in Mendoza with a stopover at Bodega Ruca Malen. It will surely be a memorable visit judging from this magnificent wine dinner.
Mike Potashnik, Co-Publisher, International Wine Review