Walk into the newly-opened Fazenda restaurant in Birmingham and one thing is immediately apparent.
Wine is regarded as important as the Brazilian food that’s served there.
Many of the walls are racked with bottles and, tucked away, is a small arched room containing rare wines for those who want to venture beyond the main list.
The restaurant even has Coravin – that magical device that allows a glass to be drawn from high-end bottles without the wine left inside spoiling through contact with air, thus giving people the opportunity to enjoy expensive wine they possibly couldn’t afford by the bottle.
The emphasis throughout Fazenda’s wine lists is, naturally, on wines from South America (though there are European wines, too).
There are plenty of labels featuring that region’s signature grape malbec, but there are also bottles that feature grapes less associated with Latin America such as tannat and cabernet franc.
Wines are selected carefully to complement the meat-driven menu at the restaurant.
Here, Chris Milner, the senior manager in charge of the small independently-owned chain’s wine list, provides some fantastic advice on wines he’d choose to enjoy over food at Fazenda.
Catena “Appellation” Vista Flores Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza £31.00
From the pioneers of high altitude wine making in Argentina, a stunning wine at this price.
Both ripe and fresh, with abundant dark fruits this expertly made wine is a joy.
After years of exploration, locals are finding the best plots of land for their grapes and are developing a naming system similar to Bordeaux and Burgundy.
In the new year Fazenda will start importing its own wine from Catena that will be well worth a try!
Miolo Lote 43, Vale dos Vinhedos, Brazil £58.05.
The flagship wine from Brazilian producer, Miolo.
Bramble flavours, toast and great ageing potential, but I’m happy with it now.
Cheval Des Andes, La Consulta, Mendoza £140.00
If you refer to yourself as the ‘Grand Cru of the Andes’ then you had better be good.
That kind of boastfulness doesn’t go down well around here!
But it really is.
This is a joint venture between the legendary Bordeaux first growth Bordeaux first growth Chateau Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de los Andes in Mendoza
This is malbec-lead but with a hint of cabernet and petit verdot. It’s truly opulent. Malbec is all the rage right now but those extra spices make an incredible blend.
The 2004 is one of the finest wines I’ve tried. We are on 2012 now, though don’t let that put you off!
The intensity of sunshine allows ripeness that make the wine vibrant and drinkable at six years old, which would be unthinkable for their French counterparts.
Barwick Street, Birmingham B3 2AA. 0121 728 5656.