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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.

http://www.cuvelierlosandes.com/newsite/index.php?lang=en

http://www.fincamevi.com.ar/?s=bodega&lang=en

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.

Carinae

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!

 

Like many people new to Argentina and the world of it’s wines, I had never heard of Torrontes before setting foot in this country. My wine experience included trips throughout Europe and California’s famous Napa and Sonoma Valleys, but not once had I ever heard of this very special grape. It was not until my first wine tasting experience in Mendoza that I learned about this flagship white wine of Argentina and its amazing unique profile. With a bouquet of sweet, floral aromas the scent is captivating… but also, completely misleading! The taste is dry, the wine is smooth and your mouth is left feeling refreshed and satisfied. 

white_wine_and_glass

 
So it’s not surprising that exportation of this grape in the world market is at an all-time high. In a recent article on WineSur.com, Argentine winemakers were asked to talk about the 2012 Torrontes’ characteristics and give their thoughts on how consumers across the globe are finding a new favorite with this varietal. A lot of importance is placed upon the fact that Torrtones is no longer just a pre-dinner drink, or post-meal wine, but something that can now be perfectly paired with great meals. As I learned from many wine tastings here in Buenos Aires, the floral notes of this wine pair perfectly with lemongrass or coriander undertones of most Thai or Asian cooking– a type of food typically difficult to pair.  With certainty, the Torrontes is now my “go to” when enjoying my favorite Thai curries or spicy foods (even thought they are so hard to get in Buenos Aires – I usually make my own!), especially since my previous Malbec pairings usually brought out a bit too much pepper on the palate and left me unsatisfied, which would happen with nearly any red wine. 
 
The article also discusses their take on the 2012 vintages that are yet to be released and how the feel the grape is looking to express itself in a market that now is eagerly awaiting its arrival. Although the climate included a bit more wet weather and cloud coverage than in previous years, winemakers felt certain that the Torrontes maintained its “greater natural acidity, offering fresh wines with a citric profile” and “aromas of white flowers” that are commonly associated with this varietal. The quote that may sum it up best was from Adiran Meyer, the winemaker from Terrazas de Los Andes in Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza. He feels that the “2012 Torrontés wines from Cafayate preserve a good expression of white and citrus fruits, and in some cases they show light herbal notes that boost its freshness. In general, they boast good acidity, moderate alcohol level and a medium body. The 2012 harvest stands out for its elegance and aromatic accuracy.” Sign me up for when those vintages are released! 
 

One of the wines that is a staple at our wine tastings is the Carinae Torrontes. We love putting this wine at our wine tastings in Buenos Aires because it is always a pleasant surprise for people who are traveling through Buenos Aires or new to the city. Why is this?

Well first simply because it is Torrontes. I have been writing about Torrontes for years but it seems to still be a newcomer for most people. Interestingly Torrontes was recently compared to 3 other staple white wine varietals in a blind consumer tasting and beat all of them! It was put up against Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay and yes, Torrontes won.  But the downside was that even though Torrontes was the clear winner among the 4 varietals tasted, only 18% of the participants in the blind wine tasting had ever heard of Torrontes. This is why we feel it is our duty to always have a Torrontes in our wine tastings.

Now why do we pick Carinae Torrontes? Well there are many different Torrontes to pick from and they are certainly not all equal. Others that we really like that we have worked with in the past are Mairena Torrontes, El Pouvenir de los Andes Torrontes, and yes, I will say it (because it is from a big winery I am reluctant) Colomé Torrontes. Carinae, however, we feel demonstrates the qualities of a great Torrontes from Salta.

There are 3 principle regions where good Torrontes is made: Salta in the extreme northwest of Argentina is considered to be the best due to is extremely high altitude. La Rioja, just a bit south of that still has great altitude but the Torrontes comes out a little less aromatic, and San Juan, which is just north of Mendoza, also makes decent Torrontes but the style is much lighter and more elegant.

The Carinae Torrontes demonstrates the extremely floral bouquet that is the desirable characteristic in Torrontes. Aromas like orange blossom, jasmin and honey are found… but then in the mouth it changes on you. This is why Torrontes is called the “liar’s grape” (“la uva mentirosa” in Spanish) because in the nose you have sweetness and flowers and in the mouth you have a dry expression with crisp acidity of apricot, peach and grapefruit.

Finally! Vindication! I have been saying for years that Torrontes (pronounced torr-ohn-TAYS) is a superior white wine at value price points (this would be 8-15 dollars in the USA). A blind wine tasting competition between torrontes, chardonnay, pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc was held to determine consumer perceptions of each varietal and their respective preferences. And Torrontes won!

This is fantastic news for the emblematic white wine of Argentina.

What the study also showed was how little people actually knew about the grape. Only 18% had ever heard of Torrontes while over 90% had heard of the other grape varietals.

I am hoping that this means a bright future for Torrontes in the world market. If only the organizations behind marketing Argentine wine to the outside world would do more studies like this! This is so great for publicity!

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