Match of the week | Chacra '55' Patagonian Pinot Noir and mushroom risotto

Match of the week

Chacra '55' Patagonian Pinot Noir and mushroom risotto

Most of the pairings in this weekly slot are chosen for the way they flatter food but here’s one that’s designed to show off a very special wine: a 2010 Argentinian Pinot Noir called Chacra Cinquenta Cinca or Chacra 55.

It comes from Patagonia in the south of the country, 620 miles south of Buenos Aires - south being, of course, colder than north in the southern hemisphere. What’s extraordinary about it is how low in alcohol it is - just 11.5% which winemaker Piero Incisa della Rochetta attributes to the vines being on their original rootstocks.

When I first tasted it about a year ago I thought it was a little tart and thin but in the intervening period it has developed a beautiful pure fruit character without being remotely jammy. It certainly bears comparison with top notch burgundy, perhaps unsurprisingly given the £39.50 price ticket (from importers Lea & Sandeman).

Della Rochetta, who I met a couple of years ago at the International Pinot Noir Convention, is no ordinary winemaker. His grandfather founded Sassacaia but this is very much his own project,

"The wine is made in as natural a way as possible" he explains on his website. "No mechanization is used at any stage of the production process. The berries are placed whole, without crushing, in the fermentation vat, where the weight of the grapes near the top of the vat crushes some of those at the bottom of the vat. This method, which shares similarities with carbonic maceration, allows the wine to express the subtle, complex and finely textured tannins characteristic of very old vines."

He also seems to be a bit of a cook, judging by this selection of recipes in Food & Wine.

I went for something quite a bit simpler - a mushroom risotto - one of the 20 pairings to learn by heart I posted recently. Even though the flavour of the risotto was quite intense - it was made with a dark chicken stock and included ceps from the Auvergne - the wine still stood up to it, complementing it beautifully. A blissful combination.

 

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