For two weeks I’ve been trying every Argentinean wine I can get my hands on. I’ve also tried hard to experience as many of the wines from the local regions that Ruth and I have visited as possible. We spent some time down in Bariloche Patagona and got to experience a few of the wines from the Rio Negro, Argentina’s (and some say the world’s) southernmost winegrowing region. We didn’t include Salta on this trip but the more wines I taste from that region, the more I’m looking forward to visiting next time I return to Argentina. And of course, we’ve spent some time trying to gain some depth of understanding about the wines of Mendoza.
I came to Argentina with the hope of finally finding the Malbec that convinces me that this varietal is worth all the fuss, and I’m happy to report I have indeed found some truly killer stuff, and some of the wines are incredible values (as are a few of the higher rated wines below). The tasting notes below are some of the wines that led up to my discoveries, but you’ll have to wait a couple of days for the truly awesome wines that I tasted in the course of our trip around Mendoza.
For now here are some more odds and ends that we’ve had over the last week. Again, most of these wines are not available in the US, but where they are, I have provided pricing and links to buy.
2005 Don Cristobal Verdelho, Mendoza
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine has a tropical nose of lemon and banana scents mixed with a more musky undertone that was a bit like old socks. In the mouth it is nicely balanced with a good acid and mineral backbone on which are hung flavors of banana and pinapple along with more mineral flavors. The finish is crisp and clean. This is my first Verdelho from South America and it was surprisingly good. Score: 8.5/9
2005 Miguel Escorihuela Rosado, Mendoza
A perfect pink color in the glass this wine has a nose of wet felt and bright, sweet strawberry jam. In the mouth it has a slight prickly petillance on the toungue and zingy acids that surround flavors of sour strawberry jam and flinty minerals. The wine has a very satisfying finish of surprising length. A textbook example of the character I want in a pink wine, though perhaps lacking some complexity. Score: 9
2004 Trapiche Roble Collection “Finca Las Palmas” Syrah, Mendoza
A dark, nearly opaque garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of sweet oak, blackberry, cassis and graphite aromas. In the mouth it is medium to full bodied with well integrated oak tannins that wrap around relatively straightforward flavors of black cherry. The moderate finish is marred by the slight heat of alcohol, but this is a reasonably good expression of the varietal that is easy to drink. Score: 8.5
2004 H. Canale “Marcus” Pinot Noir Gran Reserva, Rio Negro, Patagonia
Light ruby in color with a slight cloudiness that might indicate lack of filtration, this wine smells of sandalwood, pomegranate rhubarb and redcurrant. In the mouth it is smooth, and somewhat light-bodied with ethereal flavors of leather, redcurrent, and raspberry. The tannic structure is soft and light, barely perceptible, and the wine has a moderate finish that incorporates a residual earthiness like the taste of muddy river water after a desert swim. This was a surprisingly unique Pinot, with a distinct personality and charm.Score: 8.5/9
2003 Luigi Bosca Malbec Reserva, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza
Medium ruby in the glass this wine has a primitive nose of leather and earth. In the mouth, however, it is lush with fruit flavors of cassis, red cherries, a nice mouthfeel and a long finish. The wine is well balanced and expressive, and is one of the better Malbecs I have had. Score: 9.
2003 Bodegas Schroeder Malbec, Rio Negro, Patagonia
A medium ruby color, this wine has a lovely floral nose of violets, cherries, and grapey scents, including one very familiar scent that I spent twenty minutes trying to pin down to no avail. In the mouth it is thick and silky, with high glycerin content supporting flavors of cherries and the sweet vanilla flavors of French oak. The wine is polished, with a long finish that has a slight bitterness to it. Score: 8.5.
2002 San Pedro de Yacochuya Vino Tinto Red Blend, Cafayete, Salta
Deep dark ruby in color this wine smells alluringly of tobacco, black cherry and wet earth. In the mouth it is gorgeously rich and full, with a satiny feel on the tongue and bold primary flavors of black cherries, well-cured leather, and peat. The tannic structure is smooth and soft, and amazingly well integrated into the wine, as is the alcohol which weighs in at an astonishing 16.2% The wine betrays none of its high octane nature, except in the lush mouthfeel. The finish is long and satisfying with no alcoholic heat. This wine manages to bear resemblance to some big Northern Rhone wines while at the same time remaining very unique. Ruth loved it. Score: 9.5
1998 Arnald Etchart Vino Tinto, Cafayete, Salta
A medium ruby color with slight brick coloration beginning on the edges of the glass, this wine has a nose of figs, caramel, and smoked meats, with undertones of red fruit and pencil lead. In the mouth it is medium bodied with primary flavors of cherry and redcurrant supported by softened wood tannins. The long finish incorporates the graphite notes again along with hints of leather, and the slightly reductive bouquet of an aging red wine. I was surprised at the very Bordeaux-like quality of this wine. Score: 9/9.5.
2004 Clos de los Siete Red Blend, Uco Valley, Mendoza
Dark ruby in color, this wine has a closed nose at first, that benefitted immensely from some oxygenation. After opening up it displayed aromas of wet slate, blueberries, and black cherries. In the mouth it has a soft nearly imperceptible tannic structure and nice mouthfeel surrounding bright red and black berry flavors that taper into a long finish. Score: 9. Cost: $15. Where to buy?
2003 Finca La Anita Syrah, Mendoza
Dark ruby in the glass, this wine has a nose of fresh blackberries and soft leather. In the mouth it is deep and dark with brambly flavors of blackberries. Sticky tannins bring in a hint of bitterness to the wine that is mild enough to not be unpleasant, and which continue through the moderate finish. This is a concentrated and pleasurable wine. Score: 8.5/9.