2014 Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit: A Celebration of the Favors of Argentina
At Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap, it was an experience of primary colors. The foundation was of dusty red west Texas soil. Immediately overhead was a silky sea of lime green mesquite leaves cast against the azure blue sky. All around was pungent white smoke that arose from the culinary seven fires of Argentine Chef Francis Mallmann. The question in my mind as I entered the grounds was, would it be as I experienced in Argentina in past years. Well, it was that, and more!
The fires were started at 7 am to slow cook lamb splayed on classic picadas. Grass fed beef ribeyes were roasting on metal grates. Vegetables were buried to cook underground, and chickens tucked into balls hanging on hooks. Walking among the seven fires was a pre-dinner treat while sipping on Argentine Torrontes or Texas Merlot as nothing would be served until 7 pm. Tom Perini from Buffalo Gap’s Perini Steakhouse and Chef Mallmann worked in the pit stopping for an occasional rest and chat, perhaps to share cowboy and gaucho cooking tips.
This year’s Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit was a 10th anniversary affair billed as “a taste of Argentina in Texas”. It brought the meat-based cuisine and wines of Argentina together with wines from Argentina, Texas and California. The dinner on Friday evening was everything we had watched earlier that day served in four family style courses along side 16 wines. Featured Texas wines included:
- Lost Oak Winery Merlot 2012 with hors d’oeuvers of sweetbreads, scallops and crab cakes.
- McPherson Cellars Roussanne 2012 with Empanadas Mendocinas
- Duchman Winery Aglianico (Texas High Plains) 2010; Llano Estacado Winery Tempranillo (Texas High Plains) 2011, Pedernales Cellars Newsom Vineyards North Block Malbec, Cabernet, Merlot blend 2011, and Bending Branch Winery Texas Tannat (Texas High Plains) 2011 with salt crusted Salmon and fire roast chicken
- Becker Vineyards Malbec Reserve (Texas Hill Country) 2010 with Lamb al Asador and grass fed beef ribeye.
- Red Caboose Winery NV Port-style wine with roasted pineapple and oranges.
With Argentina as the feature of this year’s Summit, there were several wines presented made from the signature grape of that country, Malbec; featuring Argentina’s Don Miguel Gascon Malbec Reserva, Ramian Estate Malbec (Napa), Truchard Vineyards Malbec (Carneros Napa), and Meeker Vineyards (Sonoma County) Malbec.
Malbec is an intensely purple grape used in making red wine with an Argentine style with an inky dark color and robust flavor of blackberries. This grape originated in the area of Cahors in South West France. However, it is increasingly distinguished as an Argentine varietal wine with it distinctive style. One of the interesting similarities discussed is that between the Argentine Mendoza wine growing region and that of the Texas High Plains around Lubbock. Both regions are high altitude arid areas backed by evening higher mountains. Whereas the Mendoza averages around 2400 ft in elevation, the Texas High Plains starts at about 3200 feet and goes up to 4000 ft. Both share intense sunny dry conditions.