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Malbec - the perfect match for steak.
Call it serendipity, call it geographical coincidence – in Argentina, the passion devoted to beef endows it with an almost religious status, so it’s appropriate that this South American country is also home to arguably its finest wine match.
Historically grown in Bordeaux, Malbec fell from favour there due to its sensitivity to disease – but not before vines were exported to South America in the mid-19th century.
However, Malbec in present-day Argentina is a very different beast to its French ancestor, producing silky textured wines that boast flavours of black fruit, spice, dark chocolate and black pepper. The best examples can be found in high-altitude vineyards, with wines from lower vineyard sites demonstrating softer tannins and less intensity. But wherever it’s planted, Argentine Malbec provides the perfect counterpoint to the finest beef dishes.
The UK dining scene is getting in on the act, too, with a raft of steak restaurants opening in London in recent years. Venues such as Hawksmoor and Redhook have elevated the deceptively simple task of grilling a steak to something approaching an art form – and they demand a wine to match.
Many would trace the origins of this trend to Gaucho, the quintessentially Argentine restaurant chain. Group wine buyer, Phil Crozier, needs no convincing of the merits of Malbec – he features no fewer than 65 Malbecs on his list.
‘The thing that really clinches the deal with Malbec is its texture,’ he explains. ‘That softness and smoothness – that’s what people truly love about it.’ What’s more, the joy of Malbec isn’t just for carnivores. ‘That rich soft texture also works very well with chocolate,’ he adds.
Diego Jaquet, chef at Casa Malevo, is also a huge fan of Malbec, pairing it with the authentic steaks on his classic Argentine menu. ‘Malbec is such a great partner for steak because of its versatility,’ he says.
‘Argentine premium cuts have different levels of fat, and the varied tannin levels, textures and richness that Malbec can produce creates a perfect balance every time.’
For more information on Malbec, visit malbecworldday.com
A London restaurant group specialising in steaks and burgers, and featuring a good range of Malbecs from the pioneering Catena Zapata.
A stylish restaurant in Connaught Village that serves up authentic Argentine cuisine to pair with the 16 Malbecs on its wine list.
An Argentine gem in Borough offering plenty of Malbec and prime Argentinian sirloin and rib-eye.
Enjoy a Malbec wine tasting and watch Argentine tango dancers strut their stuff on the evening of Malbec World Day.
This north-London Argentine restaurant offers a warm welcome, with owner Alberto Abbate (of Buen Ayre & Santa Maria del Sur fame) a proper beef expert. Choose your slab of rump, rib-eye, sirloin or fillet (at 225g, 300g or 400g), then add moreish sides such as chunky chips with garlic & parsley, or grilled provolone cheese.
Twelve restaurants in and around London, with a wine list featuring no fewer than 65 Malbecs.
Gaucho Broadgate | Gaucho Canary | Gaucho Chancery Lane | Gaucho Charlotte Street | Gaucho City | Gaucho Hampstead | Gaucho O2 | Gaucho Piccadilly | Gaucho Richmond | Gaucho Sloane | Gaucho Smithfield | Gaucho Tower Bridge
Widely recognised as one of the best steak restaurants in London, at three locations. Its Malbecs include fine examples from Carlos Pulenta and Luigi Bosca.
Steak and seafood mecca in Farringdon, with an excellent line-up of wines list and a swanky bar in which to drink them.
Executive chef Daniel Veron hails from Argentina's Pampas region and his restaurant deals in classic cuts of Argentine steak with full-flavoured accompaniments and beefy reds.
Vivat Bacchus is well known for its wine list, and includes a rare South African Malbec on its excellent list.