On the spectrum of New World wine country (IE: Australia, United States, New Zealand, South America), it is not necessarily a time punch card as it is so much a style of wine. Argentina has the classic fruit driven, higher alcohol wines with mild outlining characteristics of New World wine. As the fifth LARGEST producer of wine in the world, what defines Argentinian wine varietal history? Layers of migration and the cultures that brought varietals to Argentina, as well as the investment in South American wines over the last thirty years.
A story of wine is not without cultures immigrating with vines. Truly, no different than that of Grenache vs Garnatxa from France to Spain and then back and forth again as the Moors battled. Yet Argentina is over seas, continents and mountains, and in which varietals that lasted tell a story for each New World wine regions in South American and the United States. Argentina… the immediate thought is Malbec.
That resurrected varietal from the famous six Bordeaux red blend made a 1990’s debut and killed it. Bordeaux, France, may produce wines with a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère. Malbec is otherwise known in Cahors, France; however it is unctuous, inky, tannic… like a 1800’s sailor fresh from the sea but not ‘refreshed’ yet. (Still amazing in my opinion…) Malbec in Argentina is anything but that- it is plush with ripe plums, macerated cherries, black raspberries then layered with cocoa nibs, herbs, sometimes a hint of crushed green peppercorn. Not a surprise that the masses would devour that?!? But that is not the only varietal that Argentina is successful with. These are perhaps not internationally renowned out of Argentina but definitely worth seeking out.
Argentina thrives with varietals from Old World countries as they immigrated as well as the unique Torrontés. Originally claimed to be Torrontés from Spain, Argentinian Torrontés is DNA proven to be a cross between native Crillo and Muscat Alexandria (hence the amazing aromatics). Torrontés is grown throughout Argentina with three different variations- Riojano, Sanjuanino and Mendocino. It is intensely aromatic with notes of lily of the valley, rose petals, honeysuckle as well as citronelle and lemon grass. Fruits of key lime, pear, kiwi (and its seeds) yet is is surprisingly refreshing with brightness and a clean acidity. Definitely worth the adventure to find and enjoy– especially with summer seafood and fresh cuisine.
Back on track to other killer varietals, the history shows that the Spanish missionaries in the late 1500’s first brought vines (Tempranillo and once thought Torrontés) to the region. Then, in the 1900’s, the wave from Europe, varietals from: Italy (Bonarda (actually Doux Noir), Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Lambrusco and more) and France (Burgundy varietals– Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Bordeaux varietals, Rhone– Syrah and Viognier as well as Loire Valley– Chenin Blanc). Escaping the phylloxera epidemic that decimated their homeland vineyards, immigrants brought not only their vines but their background in wine making. The 1900’s were not easy times. It was not until well after the Great Depression, political conflicts, inflation (1960-70), and finally the 1990’s resurgence with investment from foreign countries in the wine regions of Argentina did the small pockets of Argentinian wine making expand into such large production.
The rise of Malbec as the glory child, may be on the forefront of what people imagine Argentina to represent, however there is evidence of not just affordable, but also classic Old World varietals and the beautiful Torrontés. Adventure to try:
- La Puerta 2012 Alta Malbec La Rioja — Reg $16.99
- La Puerta 2013 Malbec La Rioja — Reg $14.99
- La Yunta Torrontés La Rioja — Reg $10.99
- Antigal 2013 Malbec Mendoza — Reg $24.99
- Durigutti 2013 Cabernet Franc Mendoza — Reg $16.99
- Durigutti 2015 Malbec Mendoza — Reg $16.99
- Martino 2014 Malbec Mendoza — Reg $21.99
- Salentein 2016 Portillo Malbec — Reg $16.99
- Salentein 2014 Reserve Malbec — $25.99
- Salentein 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon — $25.99
SPECIAL GUEST TASTING
Thursday, July 13th, 2017 5pm to 7pm | Carlos Bosso
- Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Sauvignon Blanc Mendoza– Reg $12.99
- Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Chardonnay Mendoza — Reg $12.99
- Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Pinot Noir Mendoza — Reg $12.99
- Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Cab/Malbec Blend Mendoza — Reg $12.99
- Carlos Basso Dos Fincas Malbec Mendoza — Reg $12.99