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Ruby Reds and Crisp Whites: Graffigna Wines for the Spring Season

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Thursday Mar 22, 2012

Now that the winter of 2012 has departed (tail between its legs at its pathetic performance) and people are emerging from hibernation, it's time to think about entertaining again: dinner parties for six, a candlelight romantic rendezvous, and family-style Sunday suppers. With longer days come longer evenings; the sun no longer sets before we leave the office - and instead, there's plenty of time to grab a couple bottles of wine and rustle up a meal for those whose faces we want to see again.

Recently, we found ourselves sharing an exemplary meal at BLT Prime in Manhattan's Gramercy Park neighborhood with the Global Wine Ambassador from Argentina's Graffigna winery, Federico Lleonart. Given that we are already aficionados of Argentine wines - and particularly of Graffigna's Malbec Grand Reserve - our appearance was a no-brainer and we were happy to hear the latest news from one of our favorite South American vineyards while eating some of our favorite foods.

If you have yet to visit BLT Prime, then you're missing out on some of the planet's best popovers. As large as white truffles and as light and airy as sea foam, BLT Prime's popovers are the ne plus ultra of comfort food. Don't be surprised to find yourself thinking about stuffing a couple popovers into your coat pocket.

From Melbourne, Australia, BLT Prime Executive Chef Andrew Matthews arrived in New York in 2003 where he worked under Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Tavern. Since 2011, Matthews has been the executive chef at BLT Prime, receiving accolades for his finesse with his distinctive grilling methods using hickory wood.

The grilled asparagus, for example, was a perfect complement to the Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio Reserve 2011. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love Pinot Grigio? It’s the best selling white varietal in the US - and the Graffigna Centenario Reserve 2011 has the wine’s pale sheen, tinting to a delicate translucent green, with a crisp, clean bouquet redolent of night jasmine and fresh peaches.

For the 2011 vintage, the grapes were hand-harvested in the early morning hours, resulting in the Graffigna Centenario’s signature crispness and tangy acidity. Light yellow in color, as pale as flaxen hair, this medium-bodied palate pleaser has a fresh finish, with mineral and citrus notes. Perfect for pairing with spring’s early bounty, Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio 2011 retails for less than fifteen dollars a bottle, making it as pleasing as a spring fling.

The Graffigna Centenario was created to honor the 100th anniversary of the Graffigna winery, which was founded in San Juan, Argentina by Santiago Graffigna in 1870. Santiago’s uncle, Don Juan Graffigna, had emigrated from Italy to Argentina in 1865, bringing with him extraordinary European vine varieties, as well as invaluable years of wine expertise.

The Graffigna Centenario Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is a beautifully balanced ruby red wine, with a hint of vanilla and pepper complementing the ripe blackberry bouquet. Savor this wine for its long, velvety finish.

Some years ago, we were in residence at a Great Camp in the Adirondacks - where garnets were to be found underfoot. Seriously: garnets underfoot, wherever we walked. Who would have imagined? Which was something we suddenly remembered upon holding a glass of Graffigna Malbec Grand Reserve up to the candlelight.

Deep garnet red with a violet blush, the Graffigna Malbec Grand Reserve 2008 has an aromatic bouquet, redolent of ripe blueberries, blackberries, and plum, with hints of cinnamon, coffee, and chocolate. As sensual and elegant as satin against the skin, the Graffigna Malbec Grand Reserve 2008 has a seductively long finish - and when was the last time such a lovely seduction cost you merely twenty dollars?

If you can’t get to Buenos Aires this spring, then consider a couple bottles of Graffigna and toast to the wisdom of Santiago Graffigna who conjoined Italian expertise with the terroir of Argentina.


Graffigna Wines

BLT Prime

A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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