Today’s post is a somewhat belated report on a Wines of Argentina tasting that I attended in October – apologies for the delay in getting this report together, but since the tasting was a sneak preview of the new vintage for most of the producers present, many of the wines should just be getting in to stores now.
Like many budget-minded consumers, my experience with Argentinean wines was pretty much limited to affordable malbecs. And of course, this tasting gave me a chance to try many malbec-based wines (over 30 of them) in one sitting to suss out the best of them- but it also exposed me to a white wine varietal widely grown in Argentina called torrontés, as well as a chance to taste other varietals being grown in Argentina including bonarda, cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and petit verdot.
While Argentina is perhaps best known for its affordable malbecs, my top wine from the tasting was a premium-priced malbec, called “Lindaflor” from Bodegas Monteviejo, which is owned by Mme. Catherine Pere Verge, who also owns the notable Bordeaux estates Chateau Le Gay and Chateau La Violette in Pomerol. Here is my tasting note on the 2006 Lindaflor:
- 2006 Bodegas Monteviejo Malbec Lindaflor – Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco, Vista Flores (10/8/2009)
Delicious. Supple, has some noticeable oak treatment but is very balanced. On the nose, dusty tannin and pretty, plummy fruit. Best wine of the Wines of Argentina trade tasting NYC 2009. Tannic but approachable even now. 92-94 (93 pts.)
I’m not turning up any listings for the 2006 Lindaflor yet on Wine-Searcher, so this wine may not have reached
stores generally in the U.S. While its original retail price is something like $65, the 2004 and 2005 vintages appear to be available on sale for about $30 at several retailers around the country. At $30, I believe the 2006 Lindaflor would be an excellent buy; the 2005 was rated by critics at the same 93-94 point range, it appears; the 2004 was somewhat less highly rated so for current purchases, the 2005 may be the one to go with.
Other malbec-based wines that showed well for me in the over $20 price range included the O. Fournier B Crux and Alfa Crux blends, as well as solid lineups from Alta Vista and Finca Decero. It’s worth noting that my favorite winery from Argentina for premium reds, Achaval-Ferrer, was not present at this tasting.
In the value category, I found some wines that were highly touted by wine magazines (some of which may be influenced by advertising revenue to their magazine) to be somewhat overrated - Bodegas Septima, Pascual Toso, and Bodega Norton left me a bit underwhelmed compared to what I had heard. But now, back to wines I *did* like:
- 2006 Bodega Sur de los Andes Malbec Reserva – Argentina, Mendoza (10/8/2009)
smoky nose, nice on the palate. smooth. tasty fruit, good acidity, with a bit of plum and fig. better than the gran reserva right now, excellent QPR. 91+ (91 pts.)
I actually liked the Sur de los Andes Reserva more than the Gran Reserva, so keep a look out for this one at only around $15. In general, the Sur de los Andes lineup was quite strong for the price in the value range.
Torrontés is a white wine variety which according to Wines of Argentina’s website, is only produced in Argentina. I recommend it for people who are looking for a cheap and friendly white wine for spring and summer. On the nose, I got lots of floral notes and noticeable lychee and tropical fruit aromas – fans of dry muscat/moscato or gewurtztraminers may want to check these out for something a bit different. On the palate, torrontés is generally dry and lightly fruity; the best examples had some pleasing sweetness – many of them also had a slightly green vegetal or herbal edge and a hint of pepper/spice. Here were some of my favorites, which can generally be found for around $10 a bottle:
- 2008 Bodega O. Fournier Torrontés Urban Uco – Argentina, Salta, Cafayate (10/8/2009)
lichee, white flowers on nose; nice, balanced (90 pts.) Look for the 2008 version if you can; I’m slightly less enthusiastic about the 2009 bottling.
- 2009 Bodegas Monteviejo Torrontés Festivo – Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco (10/8/2009)
fresh, with sweetness on the nose; palate is sweet with nice acidity, 89-91 (90 pts.)
- 2009 Finca Sophenia Torrontés Altosur – Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco, Tupungato (10/8/2009)
fresh, smooth – thin but nice (88 pts.)
- 2008 Alta Vista Torrontés – Argentina, Salta, Cafayate (10/8/2009)
fresh, slightly green (in a good way), bit of lychee on the nose. (87 pts.)
Other wines worth a mention:
- 2007 Finca Decero Cabernet Sauvignon Remolinos Vineyard – Argentina, Mendoza, Lujan de Cuyo, Agrelo (10/8/2009)
clone 169. nose: herbal (nice) with some mint/eucalyptus. palate: concentrated, slightly bitter but I like this. good QPR. (91 pts.)
In general Finca Decero, a relatively new winery, impressed me with their reds, which are made in a structured, modern , but in my opinion, varietally correct style. In addition to their cabernet sauvignon, check out their petit verdot, which is a variety that can struggle to ripen in France (where it originates from as a blending grape often used in Bordeaux) but apparently ripens well in the hot Argentina climate.
- 2006 Finca Decero Petit Verdot Remolinos Vineyard – Argentina, Mendoza, Lujan de Cuyo, Agrelo (10/8/2009)
Listed in my guide as “Mini-Edicion”. Dark purple – good tart acidity there too. Well made, ripe petite verdot. (90 pts.)
- 2007 Clos de los Siete (Michel Rolland) Clos de Los Siete – Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco (10/8/2009)
Earthy, bit of funk on nose – rich, concentrated fruit. Good QPR. Previous vintages of this did nothing for me, but this was nice. (90 pts.)
I’ve included this wine in this report because it is very widely available in the U.S.; also, it draws a lot of interest because it is made by Michel Rolland, the world-renowned wine consultant who has been widely written about in the wine press and featured controversially in Jonathan Nossiter’s film Mondovino. At $15-17 you can afford to taste for yourself and form your own opinion!
- 2008 Bodega O. Fournier Sauvignon Blanc B Crux – Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco (10/8/2009)
slightly riper fruit than the regular sauv blanc; the acidity brings you back for more of this, where you’ll find a hint of sweetness. nice, and excellent QPR. (90 pts.)
Thanks for reading! Cheers! -Alan
Wines were tasted free of charge at a Wines of Argentina tasting open to trade and media in October 2009. There is a paid consumer version of the tasting too – details can be found at the Wines of Argentina website listed above.