Once again this summer, hundreds of vendors from around the world descended on New York City to introduce buyers, media, and other people from the food and beverage trade to their wares. This time, Argentine wines were missing in action. But once again, there were some delicious items for pairings.
The star of the show for us was the Spanish cured ham from Roger Goulart. Wine lovers will know Goulart as a producer of fine cava, but the company has branched out into one of Spain's other premium products, pata negra (black leg) ham. We've tried many hams before, from Cinco Jotas to Fermin, and we agreed that this was easily the best. The sweetness of the ham was startling, as was its richness, and the fat truly did melt on the tongue - a phrase often heard but rarely realized. For us, it was a perfect match for some similarly indulgent syrah.
Another excellent charcuterie selection was Levoni's speck from Alto Adige in northern Italy. Not overly salty, with a touch of fruitiness and more layers of flavor than a typical one-note ham, the speck offered satisfying heft and cushioned texture along with tasty striations of fat. With a robust New World blend, it's a meal in itself.
We had many cheeses of note, too. Pecorino Romano from Consorzio Tutela was creamy and vegetal but not too harsh the way some other aged hard cheeses from Italy can be, a worthy accompaniment for one of Hubert Weber's Old World-style cabernets or blends. Another highlight was Jacobus Kase from Switzerland, a little nuttier and a nice match for an aged torrontes and some dried fruit.
On the sweeter side, we enjoyed Frau Helga's Dresden Butter Stollen from Massachusetts, which had just the right amount of moistness to hold all the soft fruits and sugary dough together. A sparkling torrontes could hardly have a better partner.
Spanish, Italian, Swiss, and German immigrants have played a huge role in the development of modern Argentina and its wine business as well. So while these products may not have been made in the Southern Hemisphere, we think they pair exceptionally well - and authentically - with Argentine wines. Salud!