Q&A with wine expert Phil Crozier

Phil Crozier is director of wines for Argentinian steak restaurant group Gaucho and has worked with the operation for 19 years to create a unique wine list. The list’s creation has helped spur on wine making in Argentina, and Gaucho’s extensive selection is undoubtedly a leader in its field.

Keen to find out more about Argentinian wine, we asked Phil a few questions…

Name three great Argentinian bottles that our readers could check out…

“Budget – Vinalba Malbec 2011; mid – Mendel Malbec 2010; expensive – Terrazas de los Andes Single Vineyard 2008”

What are the main characteristics of Malbec?

“The main characteristics of Malbec vary depending on altitude, latitude and soil profile. However, there are some key characteristics that are generally typical of Malbec, such as soft, ripe, aromatic, floral, soft tannins, silky mouth-feel, violets, roses, black pepper, sweet spice, grapefruit, clove and black cherry.”

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Inside Gaucho Manchester

How has Argentinian wine making changed over the past 19 years?

“Argentinian wine making has changed beyond anyone’s expectations. In terms of quality no other country has improved so much in such a short space of time. The realisation that Argentina has unique terroirs (the outer climates that affect wine making), combined with huge improvements in technology have contributed to the huge growth in popularity of the wine. At Gaucho we pride ourselves on leading the UK when it comes to wines from Argentina. We have over 200 wines on our list, of which around 70 are Malbecs. Many are exclusive to Gaucho.”

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Gaucho’s wine boutique, Piccadilly

Are there any beers that you would recommend as being good with steak?

“A good dark beer: we serve one from Patagonia called Otra Mundo which I think works perfectly. Dark beers have more depth of flavor, and the higher toast of the malted barley would go with the enzymic browning of the char on the meat. Also, IPA is a good type of beer to drink with the meatier cuts of beef, with smoky flavors from the IPA combining with the smoke of the grill.”

What is the perfect steak and wine combo?

“Acidity is the key. High fat is good with the more tannic wines from the north of Argentina. A Tira De Ancho (rib-eye steak) that has been spiral cut with a Malbec from Salta, northern Argentina, is a sure bet and a personal favorite of mine. Malbec from northern Argentina is very ripe, rich and full bodied, with high acidity. Rich cuts of meat can overpower more delicate wines, so you need to meet lots of flavour with lots of flavour. I find the more delicate Malbecs from the Uco Valley, for example, are better with the leaner cuts, which should be cooked more rare, and can really bring out the floral characteristics of the wines from cooler climates.”

The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.