Sunday, January 19, 2020

2012 Atipax Blend From Argentina Paired with Slow-Roasted Lamb Breasts in Chinese Marinade and Seasoning

Drinking a Malbec from Argentina is a standard practice. Sometimes wine drinkers including myself forget about Argentina especially producers in Mendoza do produce other reds that are equally charming as Malbec. I recently opened the 2012 Atipax Blend from Finca Adelma Tupungato-Mendoza, a sample from In-Quest Wine & Spirits, and was blown away by this beautiful blend which only has 20% Malbec. To cook to the wine, I roasted two slaps of bone-in lamb breasts – one with dry-rub Montreal seasoning and one with brush-on dark soya and oyster sauces. Are you ready to sip and eat?

The 2012 Atipax Blend, which has 50% Syrah, 20% Malbec, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, was produced by the Finca Adelma Tupungato-Mendoza. The high emphasis on Syrah in this wine reflects a continued trend of Mendoza wine producers who increasingly add more Mediterranean grape varietals like Syrah to their profile as Amanda Barnes from Around the World in 80 Harvests pointed out.  
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Located in west-central Argentina, Finca Adelma Tupungato-Mendoza is a high-end boutique winery Oscar and Jorgelina built from ground up in the Tupungato Valley since 2009. The winemaking journey of this winery embraces the traditional wisdom of the region by focusing on making the finest Malbec and Bordeaux blends, showcasing the grapes that put Argentina as a major player in the global wine map. The terroir of this specific area drives the success of the winey as it has the ideal grape-growing conditions of the Mendoza region  - an altitude of 1100 meters above sea level, a wide temperature range, rocky soils, and low rainfall throughout the year. 
The 2012 Atipax Blend is a mighty yet elegant wine that I would highly recommend drinking it with food. On the nose, a wave of wood chips encapsulated my nostrils, a telling sign of an oaky wine that most serious wine drinkers, especially red meat eaters, are fond of. At the initial sips, the dark fruits like blackberries, dark cherries, and ripe blueberries traveled through your mouth. The dried oregano and rosemary notes revealed slowly but surely, adding another dimension to the taste profile of the wine. Hints of peppery and tingling spicy notes bring out the smokiness of the wine, making it a no-brainer to a red meat roast. Despite of a somewhat masculine taste profile, the Atipax Blend still maintains velvety tannins and a long smooth finish. The producer recommends opening this wine 60 minutes before serving. I took a short cut and used an aerator to ‘open up’ this wine. 
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Well, it’s time to savor the bone-in lamb breasts that I roasted to match this wine. Lamb breasts? Yes, not the legs of lamb, lamb chops, racks of lamb, lamb shanks, or ground lamb that you have bought so many times. Believe it or not, I didn’t go to a specialty butcher to buy this cut of the lamb, but I went to the meat aisle of a nearby Walmart. It was a treasure hunt as the lamb breast packs were not clearly advertised but were slotted under the ‘Beef’ section of the open fridge. Also, these lamb breasts were very affordable - sold for $3 per pound.

I found the Brits have more recipes on lamb breasts. Following the instructions of slow-roasting from this recipe from Simply Beef and Lamb, the lamb breasts turned out to be very juicy and fell off the bone. For seasoning, I opted for the most effortless ways – whatever you have in the pantry like Montreal seasoning with added white pepper for the dry rub and a soya and oyster sauce marinade for the saucier roast. Lamb breasts are quite fatty so there’s no chance to dry out. 
The dry-rubbed lamb breast was smokey and peppery with a crunchy crust on the top of the breast, matching the spicy notes of the Atipax Blend. 
The subtle herbaceous flavor of the Atipax Blend, which is probably attributed to the Cab Franc in the wine, came out more forefront with the saucy breast. The slow roast infused the breast with this deep savory flavor coming from the soya and oyster sauces. Since the Atipax Blend is not overly tannic, it tastes just right with these richly flavored breasts. I wish there were more wine and lamb breasts to go around as everyone at the table wanted multiple refills of both!
Disclaimer: the wine was a sample. The opinions and ideas in this post are mines.

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