Images providedLATHAM -- Hello. My name is Bill and I am a Malbec … well, far from an addict, but I sure like the bold Argentinian red wine.
I dropped in at Vin Santo, the Latham Farms wine bar/restaurant in this Albany suburb just off Adriondack Northway Exit 5 last night to try the new menu and take in the latest decor (high-top tables, a comfy lounge area, private booths with filmy curtains) owner Craig Allen has dreamed up. While there, I sampled a Malbec I hadn’t had before: Simonassi 2007.
Malbec was long a minor French blending grape. Some years ago some enterprising Argentinian vintners decided their high country vineyards would be ideal for the grape they thought could stand on its own. They were right, and its popularity has been steadily growing in this country as well as throughout South America.
The Simonassi was $7 for one of Vin Santo’s generous 7-ounce by-the-glass pours. The dark, purplish red is visually inviting, particularly when my dining partner and I had ordered a variety of hearty small-plate items:
• Local chorizo and game sausages grilled, sliced and served with two mustard dips.
• New Zealand lamb chop “pops” marinated and grilled and served with Israeli couscous salad.
• A forest mushroom strudel made with a mushroom blend, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese wrapped in fillo dough, baked and topped with a pinot noir sauce.
• Ahi tuna sashimi served with crisp seaweed, pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.
In the course of polishing off these treats, the Malbec kept opening and softening, releasing deep notes of black cherry, plum and warm spices, making it a perfect accompaniment to each item.
Coincidentally, this morning I checked out what food pairings the winemakers at Simonassi recommend for their Malbec: “steak, game, roasts, BBQ, lamb, tuna.” Our 3-out-of-5 selections matched that quite well.
And the re-decorated, re-directed Vin Santo? Excellent service; cushier, more intimate and closer to the atmosphere Allen shared with me while the establishment was in the planning stages several years ago; new people in the kitchen, and some new menu items make it worthwhile. The fact that Vin Santo’s wine list is broad and categorized enough to cover most tastes and budgets adds to the attraction.
ON THE WEB
• Albany Area Tourism
• Dowd's Wine Notebook
• Dowd's Guides