Malbec, Meat, and Maté
Argentina’s Mendoza winemaking region — tucked up against the Andes Mountains — produces almost two-thirds of the country's immense wine output. Cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo, chardonnay, bonarda (a grape known in California as charbono), and two local varieties, criolla grande and cereza, are widely grown, but above all, the region is the fountainhead of America’s malbec madness, its high-altitude vineyards providing what has become one of our most-treasured red table wines.
Fortunately, malbec goes well with red meat, which Argentina has a gazillion tons of, on the hoof, tangoing and down the pampas the way buffalo once roamed the American plains.
I was recently invited to come on down to taste and drink and eat with Mendoza’s foremost wine family, the Catenas, who own the Catena Zapata, Gascón, and Alamos brands.
As it had been 10 years since I last visited them, I was on a plane faster than Frank Sinatra could warble the lyrics to "Let’s Fly Away."
After checking in at Mendoza’s Park Hyatt Hotel, I just had to check out the local culinary landscape to get a taste for myself.