Argentinian wine under the spotlight at Wharf's Gaucho
In a sea of wine experts all boasting a wealth of knowledge, Phil Crozier stands out. Gaucho's director of wine has been at the helm of the restaurant's lists since 1999 and was a pioneer in bringing Argentinian vintages to the UK.
Back then the company had three restaurants with just 13 wines from Argentina available.
"No-one knew anything about Argentinian wine," said Phil. "It seemed to me a project - to put together an list with just Argentinian wine.
"Argentina wasn't really very renowned for its wine but it has gone from strength to strength in a short period of time."
During a tasting earlier this month, Phil revealed there were now 1,550 wines made in the country. He introduced us to some of his favourites.
■ Probeta Torrontes, 2012
Salta, Argentina, £38.95
This is the sort of wine you could sit back and relax with all night. It's a smooth, silky taste with sophisticated flavours that add depth and a touch of dryness.
I enjoyed it matched with Gaucho's cheese and onion empanadas - with the slight sharpness of the wine cutting through the hearty, indulgent pastries.
■ Fabre Montmayou, 2010
Patagonia, Argentina £54.25
My top choice of the selection of red wines showcased by Phil.
I relished its earthy oak flavours that offered a deep drink filled with plum and raspberry fruits.
But it thankfully steered away from sickly-sweetness in favour of richness and proved a great match with Gaucho's cheese selection.
■ Atamisque, 2009
Mendosa, Argentina, £21.85
This one's a grower - so if you're popping into Gaucho for a quick drink, it's probably not the best option.
Its flavours are deep yet flowery - a combination that didn't really appeal to me - although I began to relish the quirky flavour match a little more on the second glass.
■ Susana Balbo Tannat
Mendosa, Argentina, £66.50
If you're craving a red that's lighter on oak, this could be for you.
It's light, silky smooth, easy to drink and the perfect winter warmer to sip while escaping the grim February weather on the Wharf. Phil suggests matching it with chocolate - so perhaps sample it with one of Gaucho's desserts.
■ Malbon, 2010
Mendoza, Argentina, £112.50
Should you have cash to splash and a dinner date to treat, this impresses on all levels.
Although, it will set you back more than £100 a bottle, its smoothness is luscious and smattered with twinges of flavour and an inviting, attractive colour, a strong match for the substantial price tag.
Go to gauchorestaurants.com to book a table.