Cheers September 2013

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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restaurant in Dallas. FT33 offers two malbecs on its 165-bottle wine list, including the 2010 Gouguenheim Reserva malbec from Mendoza, which sells for $10 a glass and $38 a bottle. Morgan Fausett, wine director for the 174-seat upscale South American grill Del Campo in Washington, D.C., notes that malbecs can vary drastically in style. Her favorite is the 2010 Luigi Bosca Lujan de Cuyo Malbec ($60 a bottle), which she calls a cabernet sauvignon-drinker's malbec because of its tannic structure and minerality. Fausett also likes the more fruit-forward 2012 Achaval-Ferrer malbec ($72 a bottle) from Mendoza for its hints of raspberry and cassis. About half of Del Campo's 165-bottle wine list hails from South America, she says. Not surprisingly, malbec is one of the best-selling wines at the 19 U.S. locations (with eight on the way) of the Dallasbased Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chão Churrascaria. "It pairs perfectly with our style of cuisine," says Eric Brown, corporate beverage director for beverage operations. Each location offers 20 to 30 malbecs on a list that spans about 250 bottles—a third of which are from South America. The 2010 Familia Zuccardi "Zuccardi Q" malbec ($59 a bottle) and 2010 Trapiche "Broquel" malbec ($44 a bottle) are top sellers; most popular is the proprietary 2010 Fogo de Chão "Gran Reserve" malbec ($13 a glass, $47 a bottle), Brown says. All pair well with Fogo de Chão's signature steak Picanha. INCREASING AWARENESS "Most wine drinkers still view South America as a value wine region, producing primarily red wines," says Gregory. "However, many serious wine drinkers are seeing that there are exceptional, high-quality wines being produced." He is impressed with pinot noir from Patagonia, a cool region at the continent's southern tip that produces balanced bottles, such as the densely aromatic 2011 Bodegas Chacra Barda pinot noir ($49 a bottle). Gregory has seen an increasing awareness of other varietals, including Chilean syrah- and grenache-based offerings, and Argentinian wines made from cabernet franc as a single varietal or in blends. Del Campo, for example, offers the 2006 Benegas Lynch "Meritage" Libertad Vineyard Cab Franc blend ($98 a bottle) and the 2009 Viña Falernia Syrah Reserva from Chile's Elqui Valley ($48 a bottle). Kevin Faerkin, general manager of New York's 420-seat Grand Central Oyster bar, has also observed a paradigm shift with South American wines among wine drinkers. "Guests understand that wines from South America can be of very high quality and they recognize it," he says. "This perception was not always the case." Faerkin has tried Chilean syrah from producers like Matetic Vineyards that rivals any Côte Rotie he's tasted, though a very different style. And the Errazuriz "Max Reserva" pinot noir ($38 a bottle) from Chile has been a hit with guests, who "are pleasantly surprised of the quality coming out of Chile." The cabernet sauvignon and merlot now coming from South America are worthy counterparts to those from California or Australia in terms of body and style, Gregory says. "It's a matter Morgan Fausett, wine director for Del Campo in Washington, D.C., has several favorite malbecs from Argentina. of knowing which wine drinkers are candidates for turning the conversation toward South American alternatives to the usual California suspects they may be considering." ALTERNATIVE VARIETALS Merlot lovers may find carmenère to be a fitting stand-in for their favorite grape. After all, until DNA tests proved otherwise, much of the carmenère produced in Chile had been labeled as merlot. FT33 carries the 2008 Neyen de Apalta carmenère ($80 a bottle), which hails from a highly regarded vineyard in the Colchagua Valley. Brown sees carmenère "holding its own" at Fogo de Chão. One carmenère the chain currently offers is the 2010 Montes Purple Angel carmenère, priced at $125 a bottle. Fausett cites three lesser-known varietals as being the reds to watch from the region: "I think bonarda, tannat and petit verdot are the most up-and-coming grapes from the region, because each is establishing an independent identity in the region apart from its Old World counterparts." She likes to pair the 2010 Nieto Senetiner Bonarda Reserva from Mendoza ($5 a taste, $10 a glass, $40 a bottle) with Wagyu Skirt Steak Empanadas ($16) as a meal starter. Del Campo also offers three tannats, including the 2010 Michel Torino "Don David" Tannat Reserve from Salta ($44 a bottle). "These wines are fresh and focused, and bring something new and exciting to the conversation of international varietals," Fausett says. Earthy and rustic, tannat is becoming Uruguay's signature varietal, though it is also produced elsewhere. Faerkin likes to serve the 2005 Vinedo de los Vientos "Angel's Cuvée" Ripasso de Tannat from Uruguay ($85 a bottle) with a medium rare tuna steak ($30). Of course, South America's wine industry is not just about big reds to pair with meat and weighty fish dishes. White wines—especially from cooler high-altitude and coastal regions—also shine. Chile's coastal Casablanca Valley, as well as Salta in northern Argentina and Patagonia in the south, are

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