The Trivento Eolo 2013 made its appearance without fanfare—with the dinner ending, as dessert was served. “Valrhona Chocolate Tart” seemed like a lame name for the gorgeous confection that arrived at the table: salted dulce leche ice cream nestling inside a chocolate shell dusted with toasted coconut and puffed rice. Dessert was threatening to upstage the wine. But that’s getting ahead of the story.
It was one balmy night in March when the wines of Trivento were launched in Manila, not in the expected Argentine-inspired restaurant (in keeping with the provenance of the wines), but at Benjarong, Dusit Thani’s celebrated Thai restaurant. Just how well the Argentine wines would go with Thai food was greeted with as much anticipation as trepidation, adding to the evening’s excitement.
The beautifully set dining table was gleaming in the soft light. The lady attendants seemed to glide across the room in their brightly colored Thai-inspired costumes, plying guests with the first of the evening’s wine offerings, the Trivento Torrontés Reserve 2016. Two whites (including the Torrontés) and two reds were the featured wines of the evening: Trivento Golden Reserve Chardonnay 2015, Trivento Golden Reserve Syrah 2013 and Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2014.
Concha y Toro, one of Chile’s critically acclaimed wine producers, purchased vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina, in the mid-1990s. This venture out of their home ground in Chile was named Trivento, “three winds”, a reference to the three winds that are singular to the Mendoza region: the icy-cold Polar wind in the winter; Zonda, the warming wind that comes in the spring from the Andes; and Sudesta, the cooling wind that mitigates the summer heat for the even ripening of the grapes. The beneficial effects of these seasonal winds add to the other advantages of high altitude viticulture in Mendoza, resulting in excellent fruit for winemaking.
The Trivento range includes the entry level Tribu, Trivento Reserve, the limited-edition Trivento Golden Reserve wines; the Trivento Eolo, an ultra-premium Malbec that debuted with a 93-point rating in the June 2008 edition of Wine Spectator; and the Trivento Amado Sur, the winery’s latest release crafted from select vineyards at the foothills of the Andes.
Is this Chardonnay? I overheard some guests reacting to the perfumed white wine that was served with the appetizers. But there was no mistaking the intense stonefruit, orange flower and citrus rind notes of the Trivento Torrontés Reserve 2016. It did go well with the traditional Thai appetizers and the spicy tuna in a crispy spring roll and five-spice duck salad.
But it was with the exquisite Tom Kha Pla Salmon, a creamy, aromatic coconut soup with salmon that the Trivento Torrontés 2016 absolutely shone. It was the Trivento Chardonnay Golden Reserve 2015 that was paired with the coconut soup, but I thought the Torrontés was the better, if not the best match. The Chardonnay redeemed itself with the Pla Yang Tom Yum Hang, grilled lapu-lapu with cheese Tom Yam sauce. More zingy than creamy, with top notes of candied pineapple and an underlining of toasted almonds and lightly buttered toast, the Trivento Golden Reserve Chardonnay 2015 ended with a flourish of sweet spice and lemon tart.
The Trivento Golden Reserve Syrah 2013, redolent of ripe dark fruit, ground pepper and cloves, was served with the meat dishes. Full-bodied and full-flavored, this Syrah seemed more Rhône-ish in style with its vibrant, earthy feel. I thought the Torrontés would still have paired better with the slow-cooked beef ribs in green curry, but the Syrah did well enough, mirroring the black pepper sauce of the crispy pork knuckle. The Trivento wines were richly flavored, and yet elegant and subtle, making them flexible partners for the aromatic, spicy-creamy Thai fare at Benjarong.
But back to the Trivento Eolo Malbec 2013. It ultimately stole the limelight from the artfully plated Valrhona chocolate tart—and the Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2014 that was served with dessert. Named after Eolus, the Greek god of the winds, Eolo is crafted from the fruit of a small parcel of vineyards planted in 1912. An intense purple-red, with notes of ripe black fruit, milk chocolate and black pepper, the Eolo is a study in power and finesse.
Perhaps it is the spirit of Eolus that sweeps over the Trivento vineyards, imbuing the wines with intense concentration and elegance.