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The Merlot grape is a dark blue coloured grape identified by the loose bunches or large berries. It is not  quite as dark in colour as the Cabernet Sauvignon (a much more tannic varietal).

The Merlot is used as both a blending grape and as a varietal. The Merlot is a reasonably flexible grape; used with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

The origin of the name is thought to come from the Occitan language (Roman language spoken in the South of France) using ‘merlot’ meaning ‘young blackbird’ – perhaps referring to the colour. Also a connection with the French word ‘merle’ meaning thrushes, including blackbirds.


The Merlot wine has a medium body with hints of berry, plum and currant. It is a softer wine that for some may be a good starter red wine, or something for those who aren’t too keen on the tannins. In Argentina, for example, the Merlot is slightly more acidic and tannic than in many other regions.

merlot color

As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 640,000 acres globally. This puts Merlot just behind Cabernet Sauvignon with 650,000 acres. Compared to the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot grapes tend to have less of a black/blue hue and usually thinner skin, thus fewer tannins unit per volume.


The most prominent region would be France, home to nearly two thirds of the world’s plantings of Merlot (sort of like Argentina and the Malbec!). Then Italy, California, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and parts of the United States.

Argentina is a new world wine region with production increasing in the Mendoza region. Argentine Merlots have shown tannic structure and acidity. Below is a breakdown of the number of acres of Merlot in Argentina;



San Juan


Río Negro




La Rioja






La Pampa






Buenos Aires




Some names include: Santa Alicia Merlot, Mendoza Station Merlot Blend Merlot-Malbec, Cuvelier Los Andes Merlot, Luigi Bosca Merlot Reserva, Vina Cobos Merlot Felino, Bodegas Salentein Merlot and Navarro Correas Red Blend Structure Ultra.

Luigi Bosca Merlot Reserva


To pair with food, the flexibility and diversity of Merlot can be a great help. Try pairing these with a grilled and charred meat.

And enjoy!



Due to a complicated economic situation certain things in Argentina have become pretty expensive and hard to get hold of. It can sometimes be a great pain, but you can always find a way to get around it. However, one great thing about living in Argentina is the availability of  great  food and wines at great value for money costs.


$100 Pesos Argentinos

So, I bring you today the list of the best Argentine wines with the best value for money ratio! I think this is the blog everyone wants to be reading right now! So enjoy:


One varietal i’d like to mention is the ‘CIentoquince – Boedgas de La Rosa 2006’. This is a delicate wine with earthy and mineral notes. This wine has a good balance of sweetness and acidity also with well-balanced tannins, Argentina generally had a great harvest in 2006 so this wine is worth trying. A bottle can be bought at $30 dollars… see!


Another example is the Carinae Malbec 2006 is from the a CarinaE in Maipu, Mendoza, this Malbec shows a fresh, dry palate with smoky notes and  a hint of fruity notes too. This wine is easy to drink, with a striking finish. Almost unbelievably, this wine is valued at $30 U$dollars.


carinae malbec

Carinae Malbec


A slightly higher priced wine is the D.V Catena Cabernet-Sauvignon 2002. This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with 24 months in french oak. This wine shows a beautiful dark purple colour with floral and herbal notes on the nose. This elegant wine is smooth and velvety. With great reviews, this wine can age up to 10 years so add it to your collection or cellar!This wine is valued between $35 and $40 U$ dollars.

dv catena

A few other great Argentine ‘great value of money wines’ are: Rutini Antologia XI 2001, Mendel Unus 2006, Finca Los Nobles Malbec Verdot 2004.




I’m sure each and every winery and bodega in Mendoza, Argentina, will have something special and different about it. Some may be more economic than others, and some may be more cosy while others will have fluent English speakers working there. It really depends on many things and unfortunately I still haven’t been to all of them (this would take a LOT of time but would be great fun!).

wine tour

A great picture here of a group doing a wine tour. I love the focus on the grape bunch and the man in the background taking a picture in the sunshine!

So in the meantime, here’s a few gems I’ve picked out so you can start to get to know a few wineries. If you don’t like the look of these, maybe it will give you some starter tips to look out for others:

Cuvelier de los Andes


The bodega Cuvelier de los Andes is a winery that holds family values high. Started when Henri Cuvelier, from the north of France, started sharing his love of wine in the 19th century. With his son the successful family continued on to purchase Chataus’ around France. Paul Cuvelier had come to Argentina and thought the wines ‘pleasant to drink’ but not up to the standards of the French. So he decided to keep a watchful eye on them. And how right was to do so!


In 1998 Bertrand Cuvelier and Michel Rolland embarked on the adventure to Argentina. The website of Cuvelier de los Andes boasts its modern technology in the wine making process.


Their wines have exceeded their original hopes with a great harvest from 2003 and one can find a great selection of their ratings including a Robert Parker rating 92 for their 2009 CLA collections.


Their selection offers a range of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Blend amongst others.

Finca Mevi


Rolando Meninato and Oscar Vignart are both partners and the owners at the Mevi Bodega. They built their first winery in 2003 and went on from there! Their curriculums shine out impressively as both have been president of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States in Argentina and the Chemical and Petrochemical Chamber, members of the Union Industrial Argentina (UIA) and Asociación Empresaria Argentina (AEA). This is all great to write about as I really feel this is one factor that shows how hard working these men are. Rolando is an Agricultural Engineer and Oscar a Chemical Engineer.

The Mevi Bodega has re modernized itself, with the new winery being inaugurated in April of 2011. Mevi use stainless steel tanks with “a total capacity of 120 m3”. These tanks also have cooling and heating external coils.


However, it’s not just a line of certificates that can show off a life of hard work. I personally love the Mevi San Gimignano Cabernet Sauvignon. I love to have it with some cheese and red meats. They also offer a large range of wines from Malbec Rose, Bonarda to a great Torrontes.


In case the name of the line is seeming a little more Italian than Argentine…. you’re spot on! San Gimignano is a location in Tuscany, Italy, and the labels on the bottles show the town and it’s buildings.

Bodega La Azul


The bodega Azul is another small Mendoza winery. This bodega lies at the feet of the Andes mountain range (separating Chile from Argentina).

A beautiful photo of the Andes Mountain range.


Currently the bodega is run by Alejandro Fadel and Gustavo Larghi. The wines they offer are: Malbec, Cabernet, Azul Reserva and Azul Gran Reserva.


The Carinae winery is definitely a gem worth discovering if going down to Mendoza. Run by Brigitte and Philippe Subra (two very lovely people) this winery has such a friendly feel to it!

The name Carinae is after a star constellation that can be seen from the south!

The Carinae star constellation – how beautiful!


The boutique winery has a vat capacity of 260,000 litres and concentrates all its efforts on producing high quality wines. When trying the great wines that Carinae have to offer, you can often pick up hints of the French oak casks they keep!


Carinae offer: The Carinae Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon blend, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Gran Reserva Malbec, Finca Denza Guarda, Gran Reserva Syrah and Passito de los Andes (just to name a few).


A great thing about many Carinae wines is that they are meant to be drunk young. This means there is no need to store away hoping for it to improve, not really knowing if this special occasion really is the right special occasion. Just go on and cork it open! We know you’ll love it.

I’ve only mentioned here a couple of wineries that I thought worth putting down, but in reality there are many great wineries to be visited.

Have you been? If so, where did you go? If not, which do you think you’ll be choosing, as seeing all would be virtually impossible!


Argentina is an exciting country filled with equally exciting wines. And I bet that as soon as I mentioned ‘Argentina’ and ‘wine’ you started thinking of Malbec! And I hope so, as Argentine Malbecs are worth trying.


You may have to go through your fair few of restaurant table wines, but surely you’ll hit that one Malbec that you’ll want to bring home to share with friends and family (or just sitting back on the sofa watching your favorite series).

But I’m not here to talk about Argentina’s ‘teacher’s pet’ or ‘class favorite’’. I’m actually more interested in the quieter kid in the class.

The Malbec would be the ‘class favourite’ in the Argentine wine world.


I want to brag a bit about the Bonarda. If you go to any wine tasting in Buenos Aires, Mendoza or Salta I can assure you they will mention the Bonarda to you. The Bonarda is known as the ‘secret grape’ of Argentina. I actually find this rather strange as it is one of my favorites and constitutes 18% of wine produced in Argentina.

The Bonarda was given the title of ‘patito feo’ or the ugly duckling. As I mentioned before, when coming to Argentina you have your wine tastings, your great wines and then you have the high production bulk wines that unfortunately continue from an old habit that Argentina fell into over twenty years ago for making high production, tannic wine to be blended. The Bonarda was a great blending grape. This created a sort of ‘Damajuana’ mixed with soda water.

So the Bonarda has suffered an uphill struggle. But it’s doing amazingly well and you can you find it all over Argentina and even under other names such as ‘Dulce Nero’ in Italy and ‘Charbono’ in California.

When drinking a Bonarda you may pick up on notes of spice and pepper. This is great with a traditional argentine style picada with Salami and cheese. Or maybe a piece of steak would go just fine. Just make sure it’s not too heavy that it overpowers the wine!


One of the low production, higher quality Bonardas’ you will find in Agentina – Las Perdices

Are there any other wine varietals from Argentina, or even South America, that you’ve heard of or tried that aren’t too famous?

I had my first taste of Verum Chardonnay while working at a Argentine Wine dinner, held by the Powder Horn in Sheridan, Wyoming.  It was love at first sip.  In fact, I would have to say that this particular wine is what flickered my interest in South American Wines.


  This 100% Chardonnay Vino comes from the Bodega Del Rio Elorza, and is produced by winemakers Alberto Antonini and Mariano Vignoni.  The family boutique is located in the Alto Valle de Rio Negro of Patagonia, which gives the Verum Chardonnay unique flavors of the Patagonian Terrior.  If you notice on the front of the label of Verum there are six birds present.  These birds are black swans and each one represents a Elorza family member, showing that this family are all involved in their winery.



  Verum Chardonnay, to me, is a quite unique Chardonnay, giving off hints of hazelnut and some lemon zest on the nose, continuing with a long finish of creamed pears and lime on the palate.

 Although, this wine is not very complex it still scored 89 points with Robert Parkers, Wine Advocate.  When I sip on this Patagonian Chardonnay I simply imagine myself on a beach smelling and feeling the sea breeze against my face.

  Another reason I enjoy this Chardonnay is for the wonderful fact that it pairs excellently with one of my favorite dishes.  Quatro quesos ravioli con crema salsa pera, a four cheese ravioli served with a creamy elegant pear sauce.  Although the dish is not a typical Patagonian recipe, nor is it Argentine, when paired with the Verum Chardonnay it tends to bring out the soft pear flavor in the wine as well as some hints of nutmeg, leaving you with a refreshing feeling in your stomach as well as your palate.

Buenos Aires nightlife has a worldwide fame, from bars of many different kinds to partying up until 8am, it seems like options never run out in BA.

So for all the party lovers here is a list of the top 10 bars to get a fancy cocktail regardless the time!


For a long night… Mundo Bizarro


Mundo Bizarro is also very well know for our unique ambience, music selection and visuals. MB is the home of Kustom Kulture and the Bizarre. If you dig the spirit of American Cocktail Lounges of the 40’s and 50’s, you found the place to get your “drink on” in Palermo viejo. This bar has been around since 1997, they have a wide menu with all classics and “custom creation”

cocktails by bartender extraordinaire Pablo Pignatta!

To enjoy the evening… Million


This beautiful bar is located in the heart of Recoleta, and it is a stunning Resto bar, with a little of a 20’s vibe. Opened in 1999 and the bar, built over 120 years ago, has an exquisite menu and all classics when it comes to cocketelerie, the house itself will take you all the way back to the past and you can enjoy every part of it, from some drinks at the garden, to a delightful brunch at the living room, perfect for a calm elegant evening!

Malbec, the flagship red wine of Argentina, achieves excellent wines and it is appreciated and recognized by consumers nationally and internationally. It has a tremendous fruit expression and very soft tannins. However, it is a very demanding grape in terms of region and crop management in order for it to reach its full potential.

I love malbec

Its origin is debated to this day but it has been proved genetically that it came from southwest France.  Though the exact region is still unknown, it is to believed to have started somewhere in Cahors, Bordeaux, Quercy or La Touraine. In this areas, it is most commonly known as “Cot” but it has over 400 hundred names, including Auxerrois, Cot de Bordeaux, Cahors, Pressac, Cot Noir and many others.


This varietal shows peculiarities which are due to the differences in climate and soil, plant genetic characteristics, vineyard management as well as the processing methods. The French Malbec grape is a thin-skinned grape and needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah, as it ripens mid season and can bring very deep color, soft tannins, and a particular plum-like flavor. Sometimes, especially in traditional growing regions like France, it is not trellised and cultivated as bush vines. Here it is sometimes kept to a relatively low yield of about 6 tons per hectare.

As a varietal, Malbec creates a rather inky red (or violet), intense wine, so it is also commonly used in France to bulk up for other mixes, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux claret blend. It has been long used as one of the five blending grapes in the red wines of Bordeaux, Malbec is difficult to ripen in cold years there, and is susceptible to damage by mildew and other “pressures” that may infect damp, densely planted vineyards.

In the Cahors region of southwest France, Malbec produces a more robust vine and is often vinified on its own. Known as the “black wine of Cahors” because of its very dark color, this Malbec can be offered as a varietal wine or used to add body and color, as mentioned before, in other blends.

The invasion of Phylloxera in French vineyards in the 19th Century greatly diminished the amount of Malbec planted there. The vine seems particularly sensitive to pests and disease. The “great freeze” that struck France in 1940 was another blow to Malbec. Since the frost killed 75 percent of the Malbec in the Medoc region, and growers replaced those vines with varieties which had more value in the marketplace.


From Europe to the New World…

Malbec came to Argentina in mid-nineteenth century (somewhere between the years 1852-1868) where it spread rapidly, it was introduced by french agronomist, Mr Michel Aime Pouget before the Phylloxera epidemic punished European vineyards. In Argentina, which was never subject to the epidemic, most of these vines grow on their own roots. But if escaping the blight of Phylloxera provided a start, the key reasons for the recent emergence of the grape are improvements both to viticulture and vinification. Producers have dramatically cut yields and replaced large old wood casks with oak barriques. They’ve taken more care in selecting appropriate planting sites, developing cooler, high altitude vineyards that benefit from warm days and cool nights. International consultants have arrived, too, imparting up-to-date knowledge about vinification techniques as well as a sense of what style of wines compete successfully in the international wine market.


Map of Europe


As soon as it came to Mendoza it was known as”The French Grape” although this name included other vines such as Tannat and Petite Verdot, and they were the most widespread grapes in Argentina.


The first growers planted the Malbec using the European tradition: six plants of malbec and one white variety of Semillon. Since a cut was produced, according to the ancient winemakers, this balanced the high concentration of color and took away the marked roughness provided by the tannins


During the ’80s, Argentina experienced a strong process of eradicating the vines of Malbec (especially the oldest, with more than half a century) which endangered the very existence of the strain, it was believed that the future was secured on the basis of a market scheme preventing high-yielding vines. But then, with the restructuring of the wine industry in the early 90s Malbec resurfaced implantation. Currently, the area planted with this variety is the world’s largest followed by France and the USA.


The origin of the Malbec name has also been in debate  for quite sometime. A theory suggests that the name was provide by the french term of “bad kiss” (Mal=bad, bec=kiss), but the most probable of the theories implies that Malbec was the name of the Hungarian vintner who spread the vine all around the South west of France, Monsieur Malbeck.


About the grape…


In the Patagonian south it is grown beside apple orchards and poplar trees which protect the vines from the wind. In Mendoza the conditions are much warmer and drier. Though the province’s low-lying vineyards are twice as high as Rio Negro’s, the style of Malbec produced is fairly soft and simple. Malbec is grown all through Salta to Patagonia, being the most widely produced grape of Argentina.


The Malbec color is a thick, lustrous, dark inky-black purple that almost stains the glass . Gooare often surprisingly floral and aromatic with a scents of plums and violets. This translates into sweet, well-rounded flavors on the tongue and sometimes a spicy edge softened by smooth, velvety tannins. The balance of fruit and tannin is what makes a top Malbec so perfect.

This wine is typically a medium to full-bodied, dry red wine with plenty of acidity and higher tannin and alcohol levels, topically but not necessarily.  It pairs very good with many types of food, but it is undeniable that it matches beautifully with juice steaks, Morrocan tajines and all sort of gamey meats being definitely a red meat wine but adaptable enough to stand up to spicy Indian, Mexican, Cajun or Italian fare, with preference given to barbecue, spices and hard to pair meat-driven dishes, Malbec is extremely food-friendly and ultra accommodating.

A wine you must try especially while visiting Argentina either in a wine tasting, or traditional “asado”, is a wine you must seat and enjoy no matter what…

Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil and especially Uruguay partake in the tradition of Yerba Mate. Just to be clear, there is no accent on the “e” of mate. It’s pronounced “MAH-tay” with the accent on the first syllable. Self-righteous marketers in the U.S. have begun putting an accent on the e of mate in order to differentiate it from the English word of the same spelling. A better solution would be to change the spelling altogether.

More to the point, sipping the herbal infusion tea mate is a very cultural, communal event. “Hacemos un mate”, is a catch phrase between friends that means much more than just getting together and having tea. Especially because of how this particular tea is consumed. The dry leaves (the yerba (herb) or hierba) are put into the mate (the thing you drink out of) and the “bombilla” (metal straw with built in filter) is inserted. Then the mate is filled repeatedly with hot (usually scalding in my opinion) water.

The Rules:

1. Everyone drinks out of the same mate. This for Americans espcially can be disconcerting at first since we have a very “this is my space, this is my property” attitude. I was this way as well: “Haven’t they ever thought about sharing germs!!” This is not the point. The process is:

  • The “cebador” (feeder) pours the first mate and drinks it or spits it out as it’s pretty strong. (This I also find hilarious as you will see that the rules below contradict the spitting of the first mate)
  • Then the cebador pours a mate for the first person in the group and they drink it, completely. That person then passes the mate back to the cebador.
  • The cebador then fills the mate again and passes it to the second person. They drink and pass back.
  • Saying “gracias” means that you are done drinking and do not want anymore and you will be skipped in the next rotation.

2. DO NOT, under any circumstances, move the bombilla. This is forbidden and will “wash” or spoil or spend the yerba. I have developed a theory around this called “The Conservation of Yerba” which is loosely based on physics principles like the Conservation of Mass and the Conservation of Energy.

3. DO NOT, under any circumstances, boil the water before “cebando” mate (cebar loosely means “to feed” but is only used when referring to mate) as this will also “wash” the yerba.

4. DO NOT, under any circumstances, add cold water to the mate itself. Even if it’s scalding hot (which it usually is) you just have to wait.

The flavor profile of yerba mate can best be described as bitter, strong, herbal and green. After all, it is an herb and it is, in fact, green. But once the taste is acquired, it can become quite a habit. In Uruguay especially, people have huge mates and walk down the street carrying them with their 1 Liter thermoses under their arms on the way to work.

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