I have been absent from the New York tango scene for many months. For those who don’t dance tango, that may not seem to be a big deal, for those who do, it is almost criminal. I had forgotten the pleasure of listening to the slow, romantic and beautiful tango songs while trying to swirl around the dance floor in a close embrace. Or the wonderous notes emanating from the bandoneon. I also must mention that at every milonga (dance evening), a couple of professional dancers perform so you can take a break and imagine how you might one day look if you just keep at it. That’s the fantasy at least. Even if you never get close to looking 1/8 as beautiful as some of the couples I have seen, it is always a pleasure to watch their mastery at work.
At Friday’s Milonga at Armenonville in New York City, I was reminded how magical an evening of tango can be. You get to hear beautiful and somewhat exotic sounds, move your body, say hello to old friends and meet new ones but until this weekend, drinking good wine was never part of the bargain.
Luckily, Friday’s Milonga is hosted by Juan Pablo Vicente who also works at Bar Jamon , near Grammercy Park and is well versed in the wine trade. No one goes to tango for the wines but it is nice to have a glass of something decent at a modest price. The wines are from Michel Torino, a winery in Argentina with more than 1500 acres of vineyards, at 5500-6600 feet above sea level. The winery is located in the Cafayate Valley and practices sustainable farming despite its very large size.
I tried a number of the wines and truly enjoyed many of them, including Don David Torrontes 2008, a light summer white with floral and ripe white fruit aromas with lovely acidity and minerality. Some 45% of the wine sees skin contact while 10% is fermented in small American barrels for 3 months and the remaining 45% is fermented in the traditional style.
I also liked the Don David Malbec 2007 which is 100% Malbec and showed plum, raisin, chocolate and vanilla on the palate. Following malolactic fermentation, 70% of this wine sees 12 months in American and French oak barrels before bottling. Another interesting find was the Ciclos 2005 made with a Malbec/Merlot blend. The wine making is much the same as with the 100% Malbec but a slightly higher percentage of the blend, 80%, spends time in oak barrels.
Thanks to the wines and Juan Pablo, who together with Coco runs the very popular Milonga (dance evening) at La Nacional on Thursdays, I finally got back to dancing. For those interested in learning tango, going to see a Milonga or attending a practica, Richard Lipkin’s tango calendar has all the necessary information.