Just last week, Argentinian inspired restaurant, Branca and Alamos Winery teamed up for an unforgettable night of epicurean exploration. We were in for a real treat as we got a chance to create our own wine and food pairings.
When we arrived at Branca, we couldn’t help but notice the contemporary decor and its charming intimacy as we were greeted with refreshing glasses of Alamos’ Torrontes and delectable canapés. Located in the heart of Brockton Village and the foot of Toronto’s Junction triangle, this residential house turned modern eatery specializes in Argentinian wood-fire fares made to share. As we maneuvered across the narrow space to meet Winemaker Felipe Stahlschmidt and Brand Ambassador Tatiana Nessier, the duo delightfully introduced Alamos and the five types of wines for the evening.
Known as the wines from the Andes, Alamos grows its grapes from the highest altitudes in the Mendoza region of Argentina. The vineyards are located at the foothills of the Andes Mountains at an elevation of 3,000 to 5,000 feet. It’s this height, along with intense sunlight, and cool evening temperatures that give Alamos wines their distinctive and concentrated flavours.
First up, the Torrontes, my favourite of the night, is a bright and floral white wine, with citrus notes and a crisp finish. Conjuring visions of summer barbeques and laid-back patio parties, this is the perfect versatile wine for such occasions. First course of the night, the Field Greens (a pumpkin and ricotta salad with perfectly roasted pumpkin seeds) offered a seamless union with the Torrontes.
My favourite dish and pairing of the night had to have been the Sepia (a great name by the way) with the Alamos Malbec. Delicately grilled cuttlefish with saffron fregola and chorizo, this light and tender fare was the perfect partner for the classically Argentinian Malbec, with its concentrated plum and dark cherry profiles. Another notable pairing went to the Saichicha Parrillera (Heritage pork sausage with mustard seeds) and the honeyed Chardonnay – a perfect blend of sweet and savoury flavours that lingers on the palette.
The main course exceeded our expectations as the Foie Gras board made its way to our table. Soft, buttery, and bursting of flavours, this decadent dish showcased whole lobes of foie gras. I gleefully enjoyed the dish with the Malbec, as well as the Cabernet Sauvignon. Though not a fan of Cabernet Sauvignons, I was surprised by the unusual intensity of the Alamos Cab. Deep, rich, and full of spicy flavours, this unexpected red exudes more personalities than other cabs I’ve had. Balanced out by firm tannins and a smooth finish, the Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon was also an effortless companion to the whole Nova Scotia Lobster and Tomahawk Dry Aged Steak of the night. A selection of condiments (such as the Chimichurri and Harissa sauces) and sides, inspired from flavours from around the world, accompanied the spectacular mains.
The desserts were also a force to be reckoned with. You wouldn’t think sweets would go well with wines, but the multifaceted Torrontes wins again paired with the pièce de résistance of the night – Panqueques, soft crepe with a smooth dulce de leche and Chantilly cream. The Malbec was again a front-runner for the simple cheese board.
It was truly an evening of out-of-this-world food and fine wines. The creativity of the dishes, exploding with exceptional flavours, set the stage for the Alamos wines. With great food serving as a blank canvas for the wines, we were able to discover and learn about Alamos wines through our own experience. By the end of the night, the Torrontes stood out to me as the most unique and versatile wine out of the lot. After learning about its limited stock at the LCBO, I picked up a few bottles to stock up for this season. J
Address: 1727 Dundas St. W.
Photos by Nellie Chen