Brunch, as they say, is always a fabulous idea. Let’s not forget that this wonderful six-letter portmanteau becomes the socially acceptable excuse for day drinking.
With this indulgent and favourite pastime in mind, Bar Pintxos’ Carlo Calma Lorenzana conceptualised the Almuerzo (the first meal of the day and that which is usually taken just before noon) wine pairing at his brunch-friendly BGC branch. Joining Lorenzana’s brilliant plan was Sebastian Barboza, export director for Argentina’s celebrated Lagarde Bodega winery and while making his global circuit, stopped in Manila for the occasion.
Lagarde boasts five vineyards which are among the oldest in Argentina. Lagarde Bodega owns and manages two of these, both of which are more than a century old. Barboza, who has worked with the winery for eight and a half years has visited the Philippines many a time thanks to the ironclad partnership between Lagarde and Lorenzana together with his partner, Bobby Tenchavez (the restaurateurs being its exclusive distributors and carry Lagarde not only at Bar Pintxos but at their Argentinean fine dining steak restaurant, La Cabrera). “It’s like my second home in Asia,” said Barboza who was rather excited to get the multi-course Almuerzo on a roll.
To start, a series of five pintxos methodically came out to delight the 30 odd brunchers who arrived with appetites in tow.
Inasmuch as pintxos is a Basque concept, explained the Argentine Barboza, being that it was his first time to Bar Pintxos, “We have a lot of Spanish and even Italian gastronomy in Argentinean cuisine so we are very familiar with pintxos.”
All popular pica-pica favourites, ranging from the thirst-inducing salty to the deliciously garlicky were the lomo bacon, tortilla de patatas, chistorra queso, jamon allioli and the butifarra which all went down too easy with the yummy bubbles of the free flowing Altas Cumbres Extra Brut.
“This pairing will work really well according to our wine profile. Being extra dry, the acidity and freshness of the Altas Cumbres make it the perfect wine to go with these dishes,” said Barboza.
From the Para Picar (“chopping”) corner came the comforting jamon bikini sandwiches along with the pan con jamon serrano. This was served with the Legarde Blanc de Noir 2016 rosé, which, pointed out Barboza, “Is very refreshing and renders a good balance on the palate with the jamon – it’s a good fit. You never want the food to overpower the wine and vice-versa.”
A medium-bodied, peppery and berry profile defined the luscious Lagarde Guarda Cabernet Franc (a limited production and high on the Lagarde’s scale), which was paired with, one by one, a slew of tapas that emerged from the kitchen, steadily increased the diners’ propensities for siesta time.
First up, the trio of jamon, chorizo and mejillones (mussel) croquettas. Then came the protein and carb-laden huevas estrellados followed by the crowd favourite: the paella mixta. Meatatarians saved themselves for the tantalising entrecote while seafood lovers tucked into the besugo (seabream fish). While the red meat and the red wine was an obvious soul gratifying deuce, “In my opinion, this red with the croquettas is really good. It’s such a good match,” offered Barboza.
Dessert came by way of churros with dulce de leche and chocolate served with the Henry Cosecha Tardia in which sweet tooths found a dreamy match. Said Barboza of his dessert wine, “This is a late harvest and very sweet. This particular late harvest is special because it has been in contact with barrels for 17 months so it has a lot of complexity and a long finish.”
Besides showcasing the best of what Lagarde has to offer there was an exciting announcement that Lorenzana and Barboza were itching to share by the Almuero’s end.
“We are looking at opening a specialty restaurant here in the Philippines sometime next year – probably in Makati,” professed Lorenzana.
Added Barboza: “This will be modelled after our Entre Fuegos restaurant in our winery in Mendoza. Nowadays it’s number one or two on Tripadvisor in Argentina. The type of food we serve there is of course local cuisine, which is heavy on meat because we are a meat-eating country.
There you can choose from two different menus. One executive menu with three courses and the other one is a basic menu with six courses. The wine is the star, the protagonist, and so we are very focused on the pairings. That’s basically the concept we will bring here.”
The good news is that the meat will also be imported. “Bobby and I will start importing the beef,” Lorenzana happily shared. A good Argentinean steak with a glass (or two) of Malbec? Sign us up!