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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.

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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!

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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?

Pablo and Hector Durigutti did not always work together. The brothers took different tracks to arrive at Durigutti Winemakers ( http://www.durigutti.com/).

Pablo is the lesser known brother, but has served on a number of projects, shipping him as far as Austria and Switzerland to advise high end wineries. Most famously he was in charge of all winery operation at Rutini and his experiences bring a New World style of wine making to this collaboration project with his brother.

Hector Durigutti has made a name for himself in the Argentina wine world by becoming one of the experts on the Malbec grape. To suggest that he has “rock-star status” would not be an understatement (http://boutique-wines.blogspot.com/2008/03/winery-of-month.html). His illustrious career has had his hands in over 25 different projects, but the start of his rise was at Altos Las Hormigas. While his website claims that Hector brings an Old World style to the project, do not be fooled. His Malbec’s are not going to taste like a Cahors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahors_wine or http://www.frenchentree.com/france-lot-quercy-cahors-wine/ ) and both share an “avant-garde philosophy”, which is by nature not in the Old World style. It is better to suggest that Hector has been involved in so many projects and his style has mimicked to the point that it seems like a traditional Malbec style.

As one would expect from the collaboration of two great winemakers, the resulting wines have been high quality, unique and delicious. As one would have not expected however, the results have been very affordable. The Durigutti Bonarda ( https://www.anuvawines.com/wine/bonarda/durigutti-bonarda-2006/ ) has medaled internationally, but it is also the first suggestion from owners of boutique wine stores in Buenos Aires when looking for a quality Bonarda. The Reserva Malbec ( https://www.anuvawines.com/wine/malbec/durigutti-malbec-reserve-2005/ )is exactly what you would expect from a Hector Durigutti influenced Malbec. It is a complex and unique expression of the varietal that can stand by itself, but also pairs well with a juicy steak, the 90 point rating from Wine Enthusiast is not a bad thing either.

Durigutti Winemakers has created some great wines, but since the winery is so new it has not gathered the customer base that the bigger names have already collected, and the corresponding price increase that comes with it. If you have not tried a Bonarda or a Durigutti Malbec wine yet I would highly suggest it.

Our tasting last night in Buenos Aires had everyone focused on the nuances of the wine and the terroir. Terms like acidic, oily, fat, hard, harsh, tannic, round tannin, soft tannin, hard tannin, and so forth take so much time to understand because of their previous meanings to people, and the lack of the use of these terms as they pertain to wine. I love it though, when they really have a revelation about how they taste wine and what they like.

Abundantly apparent to me was the acidity in the Hom Espumante, the sweet apricot and white flower aroma of Anecon Torrontes, the blueberry pie (we like pie in wine) burst in Durigutti Bonarda, the tobacco and leather in Cavagnaro Malbec, and the alluring pleasure of Don Juan Reserve.

For all the guests, the Torrontés surprised, the ladies favored the Bonarda and the Reserve, and the gentlemen the Malbec and the Reserve.

The learning experience, as usual impressed me as well as our guests, who tell me that only the bottom of the barrel of Argentine wines arrive to the UK. I find that tremendously disappointing in the worlds most competitive wine market. I guess those of us promoting wine from Argentina must simply work harder to get the word out about the greatness that is produced here at the moment.

We had a very intimate tasting last night: one guest to be precise… But she loved the Bonarda that we served. Having never tried a Bonarda before, I enjoyed explaining the origins of the grape and it’s common charactaristics to her while seeing what foods it combined with.

Bonarda for me has always been the deal maker, along with Torrontés. It was Malbec, obviously, that got me started, and will always have that special place in my heart, but the discovery of this “other red” that Argentina does so well was key to the founding of Anuva.

So when I saw the grin and then heard the comment, “I really liked that Bonarda”, then I smiled.

Being an Oregon native, Pinot Noir has a soft spot in my heart. That’s why it was such a treat for me to share all of my gems from Argentina, especially the Pinot, with 10 or so wine professionals from different wineries who congregated at Stoller Vineyards on Monday.

The Malbecs obviously were very interesting for them, but they also found the Mudai Pinot Noir to be quite intriguing. Different qualities from a different terroir.

Some of them even liked the collections so much that they signed up for the club! Now if that’s not an endorsement I don’t know what is!

I was so surpised at the reactions of wine industry professionals to our wines. When people like that comment on how good the price to quality relationship of our wines is, I get all fuzzy inside. Maybe one of them will comment on this blog?!?

Last night, as Daniel and Lourdes were off basking in the mild LA winter with the US Tasting Tour, those of us here in Buenos Aires were suffering through the balminess of the Argentine spring. What better way to do that than pop open a nice bottle of torrontés, one of the (not-too) surprising favorites at last night’s tasting, where were joined by a lovely family from Los Angeles. Two clinical psychologists and their daughter who is also studying psychology, the conversation ranged from the election last week to learning about the need to horde monedas for the buses, undoubtedly all framed around the diverse wines in front of us. Amongst the Durigutti 2006 Bonarda and the Naiara Reserva 2006 Malbec, the other resounding favorite was the Ikella 2006 Malbec, whose outward frutiness was the perfect complement to the dulce de membrillo (jellied quince) that accompanied the wines last evening. “It’s an explosion of flavor,” one voice exclaimed excitedly. “An explosion!”

New York meets Chinese-American meets Indian meets Colombian. Perhaps even more subgenres of nationalities and ethnicities came together last night in my humble abode to share gorgeous Malbec, Pinot Noir, Bonarda, Torrontés, Malbec blend, Sparkling White, and yes, another Malbec.

I was a bit caught off guard with an enthusiastic early arrival, but the group meshed extremely well and showed a very high level of curiosity about wine. I personally remained impressed about the ability of people to come together and share over bottles, glasses and picada.

The selections of the evening were all from the Anuva wine club with various people identifying various favorites. New York went with Mayol Bonarda, Indian-English went with Naiara Malbec, our lovely facilitator of the evening went with Naiara Malbec Reserve, but I think that the overall crowd favorites had to be the Hom Espumante and the Don Juan Reserve Malbec blend.

This was actually the second time that the lovely facilitator came to taste wine with me! How fantastic is that?!

She leaves on Sunday otherwise I would consider hiring her. Hint, hint.

Two fabulous Aussies came over last night, courtesy of their hotel to taste great micro-production wines from Argentina in the capital city of Buenos Aires. Of course we had plenty of Malbec and Malbec Reserve but also Torrontés, Cabernet, and a Sparkling White (aka, Champagne).

While the subjects of full-body, palate, typical varietals from Argentina, the terroir of Argentina, and the future of the wine industry in Argentina and the world were all discussed (in our convenient Buenos Aires setting), much of our cultural background was also shared. Just to hint at what that cultural background was, certain films have referred to it a “Drewish” and we had a hilarious time defining the words meshugana, mazel tov, and mensch

The winners of the evening were the Malbecs of course but surprising to me was how much the Anecon Torrontés proved successful in this cold winter weather. In summertime, in the U.S. it has be selling like crazy. Loving the floral, sweet nose and the light citric flavor, one of our guests could not resist getting a good fill of this before heading back to Australia, where Anecon Torrontés much less Torrontés in general doesn’t exist.

“Put us on your list for when you ship to Australia,” they said in an email I received today.

Right at the top, baby. Right at the top.

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