I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Gaucho in Birmingham and probably for very different reasons to most. Stalking the wine list for a while now, I was keen to see how an all Argentinian wine list would fare. Up against steak Malbec is the obvious contender, but with a wine list of what appears to be over 100 wines there are other options and hopefully something for everyone.
The Birmingham Gaucho is the first to open in almost a decade. Masterclasses and events are an important part of the Gaucho model, with the London sites hosting regular events. I was invited to attend a Beef and Malbec Masterclass in the private dining room.
The intimate space is sexy and sensual, as is the rest of the dining room. This is a place you go to impress or be impressed. The perfect ambiance for a date night or to wow colleagues.
The exclusive event was hosted by the inimitable Phil Crozier director of wines for the group and the charming and very funny group master griller Fernando Larroude. What a treat!
Based on my love for an Amaretto Sour, I start off with the bartender’s suggestion of a Chocolate Sour. I hear chocolate and I assume sickly, let me start by telling you that it is far from what I had imagined.
A harmonious balance of Cointreau’s orange oil aromas, nutty amaretto, chocolate liqueur, bitter lemon juice and pineapple juice. It reminds me of a jaffa cake. I hope I can get this next time!
All of Gaucho’s wines are from Argentina, including the Méthode Traditionelle Chandon Brut. A sparkling wine made in Mendoza, the wine is a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir blend, similar in style to the wines of Champagne.
Right in the centre of our table for 12 we have beef. Some common cuts and some not so common cuts. Ranging from rump to blade and everything between.
The beef served at Gaucho is Aberdeen Angus. It is wet aged whilst shipped to the UK from Argentina. The wet aging process is Gaucho’s prefered style as it ensures the beef arrives at its original weight and that it marinates in its own juices. In simple terms the beef is vacuum packed in an aging process of around 35-45 days, resulting in moist, tender cuts.
When I order steak at a restaurant, I prefer the tastier, flavour packed cuts. I tend to go for rib eye or sirloin, but if looking for value for money, the skirt, hanger or flat iron is superb and sadly overlooked by most. Get to know!
Fernando presents raw rump and raw fillet, side by side with the signature Chimichurri sauce, olive oil and salt and pepper. I love steak tartare, so it was quite exciting to try the raw beef like this.
Whilst we enjoyed the raw meat, the next cuts were being prepared in the kitchen. Another comparison exercise, 3 cuts of beef (picanha, skirt and flank,) that are underappreciated and often overlooked by diners or not even served in restaurants, up against the 4 different glasses of Malbec. As guessed, I loved the skirt closely followed by the flank.
What is the difference between the skirt steak and flank steak? They have quite a different flavour and texture to one another. The skirt steak is more intense in flavour, whilst the flank is more subtle. The flank is very lean with a lower fat content, whilst the skirt contains all the sexy, fatty marble.
Why have I not heard of Humita before? The calorific, creamy corn and mozzarella side dish was a lovely surprise and nice accompaniment to the beef. *Ahem* I need this recipe in my life!
Next up we have the four classic cuts served alongside the Malbecs, First up is the Ribeye served with the Colome ‘Lote Especial’ el Arenal 2014 from Salta. Intense black fruit, with thick chewy tannins. A top wine from a renowned producer.
The Finca Sophenia ‘Synthesis’ Malbec 2012, from the Mendoza is presented with the Fillet steak. Plums, blackberries, tobacco and chocolate. Although full bodied, the aromatic wine is smooth and works well with the delicate fillet.
Luigi Bosca D.O.C 2014 from the Vistalba is lovely. Very smooth, plums, spice and coffee, good bit of oak and tannin. This is matched with the Sirloin and my favourite match of the evening.
Lastly the Aniello 2015 Mainique Rio Negro was paired with the Rump. It’s mouthwatering and makes the mouth pop. Raspberries and plum. This is the best rump I have ever tasted and I usually dislike rump. It’s moist and tender.
In general the more fat the cut of beef has the more tannin the wine requires. Though some of the wines worked just ever so slightly better with the particular beef cuts, wine is subjective and the cuts of steak could have worked with any of the wines tasted.
If red wine isn’t to your liking Phil Crozier mentioned on the evening that the sommeliers were able to recommend white wines to match your beef. Perhaps an oak, aged Chardonnay or Viognier with a bit of oak. Something robust that wont get lost with the food.
The wine list is organised from North to South and looks very exciting! On a separate visit a couple of weeks back GM Luca was kind enough to host a mini wine tasting so that my dear friend and I could decide on a wine.
Having lived and worked in the aggressively competitive restaurant scene in London, I understand Gaucho’s prices. Some might find it expensive, however there is a lot of thought behind their process. For one the quality of the meat and wine. In addition to this the high level of staff knowledge, the Gaucho staff training is second to none.
I can definitely see myself regularly perched at the bar with a cocktail or glass of wine in hand. I’ll be back for a masterclasses and to taste more wine here very soon!
I was a guest of Gaucho Restaurant and Rewired PR, food and drink were complimentary.
As always, my writing and my honest views.
Wine Press Girl x
Gaucho, 55 Colmore Row (although the entrance is on Church Street), Birmingham B3 2AA