Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Patagonian Wines

I wrote before about this region, which is fast becoming a major focus for wine lovers. With a totally different climate that you'll find in Mendoza or Salta, Patagonia is cooler and windier, creating totally different wines, something you can really notice with the malbecs. But, attention Pinot lovers: it is a perfect place for our other favorite grape. Patagonian Pinot Noir is something worth trying. No wonder major investment is going on in the area.

Here you have a good introduction to Patagonia:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

2010 Argentine Wine Awards

For the fourth year in a row, and under the auspicious of the trade group "Wines of Argentina" (WofA), were given the awards for the best wines of Argentina. Twelve Masters of Wine, from eight different countries, assessed the quality and progress of Argentina's wine industry. Beating a record of participation, 650 wines were submitted for consideration. As a result, the competition awarded 18 Trophies, 30 Gold Medals, 182 Silver Medals, and 260 Bronze Medals.
Here are the winners:
The most important prizes (Trophies), were distributed among 16 wineries.
-In the Chardonnay category, Bodegas Salentein's "Chardonnay Reserve 2009" (from U$ 10 to U$ 19.99), reached the grand prize.
-Dominio del Plata Winery with Susana Balbo's "Críos 2009 Torrontes" got the award in the Torrontés category for less than U$ 10.
-Bodega Tapiz, with the "'09 Tapiz Torrontes" took the prize in the category between U$ 10 to U$ 19.99.
-Rosé for less than U$ 10, again Susana Balbo won with her "'09 Críos Malbec Rosé".
-Family Zuccardi, with the "Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 2007" got the award for the best Tempranillo from U$10 to U$19, 99.
Other winners were: Paul Hobbs' Viña Cobos "Bramare Luján de Cuyo Cabernet '07", Pascual Toso' "Magdalena Toso '06" (a blend).

- In the Malbec Category: Bodegas Nieto Senetiner was the big winner with their "Nieto Reserva Malbec 2009" for wines going for less than U$10. In the price range of U$10 to U$19.99, Doña Paula Estate won with their "Doña Paula Estate Malbec 2009", and for the price range between $20and U$49.99, Finca Sophenia won a Trophy with their "Synthesis Sophenia Malbec 2008".

Full list here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Malbec Quickies

- The Wine Chicks don't fall in love with Familia Bianchi's Elsa 2008 Malbec. And I happen to agree with their review.
"... Aromas full of oak and black pepper and flavors boasting with high tannins and a lot of jammy flavors upfront. I think it was the overly sweet jam flavors that killed it for me. Mid palate and you’re hit with spiciness followed by a nice smooth finish..." Link here.

- The story of Carinae and a french couple who fell in love with Mendoza and malbec. I've visited this winery back in 2005 and they were doing a fantastic job not only in vineyard management but with their wines as well. I like them so much that every time I go to Buenos Aires I bring back a couple of their bottles.
Link here.

- From businessman and political consultant to making malbec. An american finds peace of mind and a great opportunity in Mendoza. And now he is reaping the benefits of taking on that challenge without the wine knowledge and not speaking the language. From Forbes Magazine, link here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wine Of The Week: 2008 Alamos Malbec

Again Alamos Malbec is at the top of journalist's preferences. This time all the way from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
"The 2008 Alamos Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina, about $10) is more austere than some, tempered with 5 percent cabernet sauvignon and 5 percent bonarda. The nose is dark fruit with a pronounced spice edge. On the tongue, raisin, blackberry and ripe plum and prune intensify and take on the savor of wood smoke. A hint of leather gives the blend muscle. Well-developed tannins lend it admirable structure and carry through a long dry finish underlined by a note of black tea. This is a perfect wine for chilly weather. Serve with grilled skirt steak. Widely available."

Link to original story here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Sparkling Malbec For Valentine's Day

WaPo's wine expert Dave McIntyre for the second time in a couple of weeks has a malbec on his list of recommendations. This time is for Valentine's Day, and a surprise... this is not your everyday malbec:
"...Whether or not you're planning to give a loved one roses this Valentine's Day, there could hardly be a more appropriate time to celebrate with sparkling rosé....
... The good news is, you don't have to spend a bundle on it, even if it's champagne. A rosé from a grande marque can cost well into the triple digits, but excellent choices abound at more modest prices...
... To show a sense of adventure in your wine choices, look to the Southern Hemisphere. Malbec is Argentina's claim to fame in red wine, but it is rarely made into a sparkling version. The Reginato "Celestina" Sparkling Rosé of Malbec is not your typical pink sparkler; it's darker than most, and the malbec gives it enough heft to make it a good partner for bolder-flavored foods. It is similar in concept to sparkling shiraz from Australia but without the strange foxy flavors that beset many of those...
More details about the Reginato "Celestina" Sparkling Rosé of Malbec 2007 here.

Photo courtesy of James M. Thresher - For The Washington Post.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Fair Trade Malbec

This is just beautiful. Fairhills is one of the few wineries in South America to become Fair Trade Certified. The Fair Trade initiative is dedicated to 10 farms to improve the quality of life for 210 members and 300-plus children. The initiative is one of the first in Argentina, and has used sales to upgrade schools in the region, purchase new toys, establish a soup kitchen and buy an ambulance for the local health care center. 
Their wine is the Fairhills Mendoza Vineyards Malbec, and the 2008 vintage seems to be a really good vino. Definitely a best buy:
"On the nose: It brims with deep crushed black fruit character, including black plums, brambleberries, black currants and boysenberry jam. Under that is a layer of hints of embers, licorice root and earth-driven minerals, all adding to the alluring fragrance of this wine.

On the palate: The wine is very powerful in its onslaught and is rich with black fruit again, dominated by black wild cherries, loganberry crush, spicy black plum juice components, and no discernable hints of oak. The midpalate has in addition to the earthy black fruit, some smoke character, peppercorns, spice box, tobacco and some phenolic licorice notes. The finish is lingering and rich with black cherry. This wine overachieves on almost every level, considering the great value."
It is the Wine of the Week for The Las Vegas Review-Journal. Link here

Link to Fairhills Winery here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"This Is Malbec's Moment"

Under this auspicious title in Wine Enthusiast`s last edition, Michael Schachner published an exclusive article about Argentinian Malbec. Michael is definitely convinced that argentinian malbec is much more than a fad:
 "Dense and dark, with full-bodied richness that few other grapes besides maybe Cabernet Sauvignon, warm-climate Syrah and Tempranillo can mimic, Argentinian Malbec is about seven years into a golden run during which exports to the United States have grown exponentially year after year," explains Schachner. "Nowadays, the hottest wine in this country is Argentinian Malbec." 
He also praises the high acidity and versatility of the wines, and he is not afraid to compare the premium malbecs to Napa Valley Cabs. 
The journalist also recommends Argentina to pay attention to Chile and Australia, in order to avoid making their same mistakes:
"if, among Argentinians, there is a fear or downside to the Malbec explosion, it is that Argentina could sooner or later fall into the same trap that has taken export market share away from both Australia and Chile. Those countries, industry observers have repeatedly pointed out, became overly reliant on one product-Shiraz in Australia; cheap Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Chile-to build a reputation and maintain momentum."
I personally think that the key for Argentina's wine industry future is to keep developing premium and single vineyards wines, pay more attention to Torrontes and Bonarda, Syrah in San Juan, and Pinot Noir in Patagonia. The good thing about the malbec grape in Argentina, is the grape delivers very different wines depending on the place it was grown: Salta and the Cafayate Valley, Mendoza and Patagonia (the provinces of Río Negro, Neuquén, and La Pampa).
The following are the lists of Michael Schachner's Top Ten argentinian malbecs:
Link to the story here.
Link to Wine Enthusiast here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

South African Malbec

It is always interesting to know how malbec is doing in some other places. Now, with the World Cup around the corner, is time to go to South Africa and learn a little bit about our favorite grape:
"... Traditionally, Malbec is used in Bordeaux blends to give the wine extra colour and density. It was introduced to South Africa in the 1920's and planted mainly in the Paarl and Stellenbosch regions. It thrives on the rich soils and warm climate offered in these areas, and produces wines that are considered rustic, with juicy flavours of plums, raspberry and mulberry fruit..."
The rustic part has to do more with Cahors in France, than Argentinian malbec. It might have to do with the type of climate, similar to the Southwest of France, warm but more humid than in Mendoza, Salta, San Juan or Patagonia, where the weather is much drier. This winery is located close to Cape Town, in the southwestern portion of South Africa.
"... Since its launch last year this fine example of Malbec is in huge demand and not surprisingly so. The wine has a velvety colour with a bouquet releasing abundant floral fragrances of violets and hints of spice. The palate is full bodied with ripe plum and blackcurrent flavours backed up by subtle tannins.
We enjoyed the wine with pastries filled with slow-cooked venison. The richness of the food was balanced beautifully by the silky fullness of the wine."
The wine is Neethlingshof Malbec 2008. 
Link to the winery here.

Link to the original story here

Terrazas de Los Andes Afincado Malbec 2005

Terrazas de Los Andes Afincado Malbec 2005

San Juan Malbec

The Province of San Juan (north of Mendoza) is the second producer of wine in Argentina. San Juan' signature grape is syrah, specially from vineyards in the Tulúm Valley. Everything started back at the end of the 1500's with the spanish conquistadors. But they are also producing malbec and I wanted to pass the information along. The most famous producer in San Juan is Bodegas Graffigna, but some new producers are doing some really good stuff:
"... Las Moras Malbec, warm your taste buds as you bear this season's weather. January's wine is found in the Tulúm Valley in San Juan Argentina. The vineyard uses the melt water from the Andes and the grapevine grows in a sandy soil, broken rocks and pebbled sub-soil, with very low level of organic matter. The desert climate produces a soft, full bodied wine with a ripe red berries and plum flavors with an elegant touch of smoke and vanilla. Serve Las Moras with red roasted meats and pasta dishes with tomato sauce..."
Finca Las Moras is a fairly new winery, with an 8 years old vineyard, drip irrigated with melt water from the Andes, 650 m above sea level.

"... An exceptionally pleasant, well balanced and enjoyable wine, at an incredible price. Mouthfilling, reasonably tightly structured, very flavoursome but at the same time bright and lively..."

Going for less than U$ 15.00 this one is definitely a Best Buy.
Finca Las Moras info here.
Wine review here.

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