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Working at the West of the Western Culinary Festival this past weekend at the Phoenix Art Museum was a nice way to spend the weekend:   Beautiful day, amazing food and great wine.  Many of the valley’s best restaurants were there sampling their food.  Can you say Mini – Buffalo Beef Slopping Joe’s and red velvet cake made into oreo sandwich type cakes!  Oh and another favorite was corn and green chili pancakes with BBQ pork and a light cream sauce – definitely delicious.  Of course for you adventurous types there was octopus and other  “delicacies”~ I am not that brave.  The scallops and beef braise from Cork – small plates in Gilbert was definitely a fun combo.

elsa_torrontes_2007_bottle1In the great hall we enjoyed music, wine and chocolate!  A fabulous combination.  From my Argentina portfolio: Valentin Bianchi I was pouring Elsa Torrontes and Elsa Malbec – definite crowd pleasers as I had many return to re-taste.  Torrontes surprised most of the tasters with it’s fragrant fruit aroma and palate pleasing flavors of orange blossom, pear, apple with a bright clean finish.  The varietal is indigenous to Argentina and is similar in style as a Pinot Grigio but with a fuller mouth feel.  Comments from patrons were:  “Refreshing and full on the palate”, “Aromas capture you and the palate leaves you wanting more!” and a group of ladies selected it as the “Best White Wine” at the event!  And with suggested retail price of $12 – it is definitely worth finding.  In Arizona it’s available at AZ Wines, a few AJ’s and WineStyles.  And Albertson’s!  Or ask your local store to special order from Republic National Beverage – Arizona.




elsa_malbec_bottle1Elsa Malbec was a winner as well.  Though not done in the big full bodied style that most Malbec lovers look for in Argentina Malbec’s, it surprises them with it’s spice.  Winemaker Robert Pepi, Jr. told me the Bianchi family grows the grapes, the terrior makes them what they are and he just tries “not to screw up the wine too much” in the wine making process.  Funny guy, Bob!  What he means is he makes the Elsa Malbec so the varietal characteristics of the Malbec grape to come out in the wine.  The cooperage is only 4 months in French oak, this allows the luscious fruit flavors to hit the front of your tongue, the spice to hit mid palate and the oak is discovered in the lingering finish.  Really a terrific version of a Malbec wine.  Perfect for summer BBQ’s – I am thinking braised ribs!  And again with a suggested retail of $12 – it’s a steal.  Available at AZ Wines, a few AJ’s, BevMo, WineStyles, Albertson’s – or ask for your favorite store to order it from the distributor: Republic Beverage.

Out of time – back soon with more wines! ~ Jill