Tell us your story!
The short version is that I was travelling through South America, got to Argentina and fell in love with Malbec. But the foundations were laid sometime before that. I was on the cusp of opening a bar in Perth, around the time of changes in small bar licensing laws in WA. I didn’t end up opening the bar, but the process taught me a bit about the liquor industry. Then I went travelling and ended up in Buenos Aires, bingeing on meat and Malbec. By chance, I happened to meet some key industry people while I was over there and it all came together from that. I now work with a local team in Perth, and we have built what we consider is the best portfolio of family-owned bodegas from Argentina. What started as an interest on a holiday in Argentina turned into a hobby, became a passion and is now an obsession.
Come to Gauchito Gil and find out!
Malbec is uniquely associated with Argentina and really evokes a sense of place. For the uninitiated, it appeals to the Australian palate because it is similar to the style of wine we grow – and drink – so well here, in particular Shiraz. It is generally fruit-driven with a bit of spice, without being overly tannic or acidic. It also has a romance about it that Argentina’s 200 plus years of winemaking history manages to bottle up and capture so well.
What has been your most ‘classic’ Argentine experience?
For me, it’s always about wine and food. Perhaps eating at a parilla while drinking Malbec. A recent trip to Mendoza involving great food and wine with friends while overlooking the vines and the snow-capped Andes as a backdrop was pretty classic too.
Malbec is wine with Altitude. Discuss.
This is where the nerdy stuff comes out! Altitude is a winemaker’s friend.
Let’s start with the sun: The grape is closer to and gets more of the sun. This makes the skin thicker, which is where most of the flavour, colour and tannin come from.
The altitude also means that the air is purer and there is less humidity and a lower nighttime temperature.
Then the water: Uniquely, in Argentina (Mendoza specifically), the Andes block the clouds and rain from the Pacific Ocean and basically act to capture all this water for the winemaker to use.
Finally: The higher the vineyard, the lower the incidence of bugs and pests, which makes Malbec from Mendoza one of the most natural wine making processes in the world.
We like being high.
Can you remember your ‘first time’ with it?
I’d just arrived in Buenos Aires after the long haul from Perth and the first thing on my “to do” list was to try the winning combination of Argentinean meat and red wine I’d heard so much about. The restaurant closest to where I’d dropped off my bags was all dark wood and low lighting. I’ll never forget it. My first time! I spent the rest of the week in Buenos Aires in a haze of Malbec.
Do you tango? Have you ever tried?
No. I tried and failed. Wish I could. I enjoy watching the passion of the dance.
What can we expect from you on the day?
A number of Malbecs from Mendoza which show a balance between the character of Argentine wine and the tastes of the Australian palate, so that we are able to provide Australian wine drinkers with an experience that is exotic yet accessible. The wineries we work with are mostly family-owned and show real passion from the cultivation of the grapes through to the production of the wine, with the result being unmistakable quality. I’ve worked with these particular vineyards for many years and the wines really speak for themselves.
Finish this sentence .. ‘Malbec makes me …’
…justify my life choices.
What do you drink when no one’s watching?