Argentinian Wines & Affordable Fine Dining: Cheval Des Andes X Bref By Darren Chin
In one fell swoop, we sample wines by Cheval des Andes and fuss-free French fare at Darren Chin's newest venture. Below are 5 takeaways from the vertical tasting luncheon hosted by Möet Hennessy Diageo.
1/5 An Alliance Between Two Exceptional Estates
Cheval des Andes is what happens when French winemaking skills are applied in one of Argentina's most famed wine regions. What seemed like a brainy idea in the 90s has borne delicious fruit by way of Franco-Argentine style wines. A partnership between Château Cheval Blanc in Saint-Emilion and Terrazas de los Andes in Luján de Cuyo, Cheval des Andes (French for 'the Andean horse') was founded in 1999, but sits upon land as old as the hills. “It was a close collaboration to start a new adventure," remarked Gérald Gabillet, a winemaker on the estate. "We turn 20 next year, so you can expect exciting things."
2/5 Mendoza's High-Altitude Makes For Highly Reputed Malbec
Home to Argentinian gauchos (skilled horseman), Mendoza could easily be the setting of a Quentin Tarrantino Western — we can just totally picture the protagonist and his steed gallopping to Cheval des Andes for a celebratory drink. Covering some 10,000 square metres, Cheval des Andes is nestled at the foothills of the Andes cordillera and hydrated by pure meltwater from the snow-capped mountains. “The owners fell in love with Luján de Cuyo when they saw the area," said Gabillet. We can clearly see why.
3/5 Achieving 'Grape-Ness'
“When vines are a bit stressed, they need more vigour to produce enough quality for a famine,” explained Gabillet, who credits Cheval des Andes' exceptional grapes to the harsh conditions of the Mendoza desert. Producing blends (rather than single varietal wines), Cheval des Andes corks bottles containing at least 60 percent of Malbec, but also harvests four other kinds of grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Some of the vines are octogenerians — meaning 80 years old and above!
4/5 Bref By Darren Chin Underscores The Rise Of 'Bistronomy'
Not content to rest on his laurels after meeting success with DC Restaurant (named 'Best Independent Restaurant' at the T.Dining Awards), Darren Chin launched his second venture in TTDI on September 1st. French for ‘brief,' Bref encapsulates the belief that “simplicity can create much joy." If you appreciate Chin's cooking at DC Restaurant but shirk lengthy, multi-course meals, Bref, with its open kitchen concept and à la carte menu, will surely hold great appeal.
Ask a chef: What foods can't Darren Chin live without?
5/5 A Vertical Tasting Of Various Vintages
Cheval des Andes 2012
Composition: 66% Malbec, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Petit Verdot
Pairing: Italian Burrata, Hollandaise Sauce with Mandarin, Pickled Sardine Fillets and Fresh Basil
Comments: “It’s risky but it works!” said Gabillet with regards to pairing fish with red wine. Languorously draped over a buttery ball of burrata, the salty anchovies teased out notes of tobacco, white pepper and ripe yellow fruits in the poetic red.
Cheval des Andes 2013
Composition: 67% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Petit Verdot
Pairing: Butternut Squash Potage with Cardamom
Comments: Boasting the same mouthfeel as the sweet, silken potage, the full-bodied wine carried traces of violet, pepper, raspberries and black fruit. Fine tannins converge in a tense finish.
Cheval des Andes 2015
Composition: 69% Malbec, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon
Pairing: Shanshui Free-range Chicken Legs, Slow-Roasted in Hay, Creamy Chicken jus, Couscous, Tomato Chili; Pine Pear Tart & Tahitian Vanilla Sorbet, Pear Coulis with Tonka Bean, Black Olive Caramel
Comments: Poultry dishes by Chin always make me reconsider my prejudices against the besmirched bird. Equal parts crispy and tender, the chicken here is the sort of comfort food that will make you pat your stomach and push away future plates... saving space for just dessert. The 2015 vintage, the most savoury of the trio, helped us put away the too-tall tart.
Read our review: The wine pairing menu at Altitude, Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur