You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘malbec’ tag.

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!

 

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.

flag

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!

picada

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?

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…

This wine is simply ridiculous.

We are going to start serving this wine in our tasting room in Buenos Aires on about November 1st of this year, but here is a sneak preview. This 100% Malbec wine is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and produced in limited quantities of about 10,000 bottles.

Why do I say this wine is ridiculous? First of all, for such a young reserve wine, it has a nose to die for. This is one of the most aromatic wines I have ever tried in my life (and I am including some 96 and 94 point Wine Spectator rated wines that I tried at a portfolio tasting in New York City last week). The highly rated California Cabernets have nothing on this wine in the bouquet category. There is an incredible abundance of ripe raspberry and plum with a floral quality as well. After breathing for 20-30 minutes, we progress into a light cigar aroma with some vanilla background and a touch of pepper.

The color at the moment is a bright violet and is quite brilliant.

In the mouth there is also a lot going on. Big fruit and bold flavor all the way around. Malbec is always associated with plum flavors and plum jam. This Malbec takes these plum flavors to another echelon. The super developed fruit flavors consist of raspberry jam, ripe red plum, and thorny blackberry on the attack. On the mid-palate we get some of the oak notes like cedar and toast. A nice full body with soft tannins make this wine quite easy drinking. Where I compare the fruit and the aroma of this wine with the highly rated California cabs I tried, the structure is much more feminine and soft. The California cabs had much more aggressive tannin and more masculine feel.

A really long finish on this wine gives a slight pepper flavor along with clove and cherry.

This big time winner is going to be a hot seller in November.

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.

God has spoken. Consumer Reports finally got around to confirming the undeniable high quality and value of Argentina’s flagship grape, Malbec. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/beverages/wine/malbec-the-new-merlot-2-08/overview/malbec-the-new-merlot-ov.htm

I’ll admit I was slight confused by the reports title “Is Malbec the New Merlot?” No- Malbec will never be Merlot. What does that mean anyway?

Sure both varietals have the ability to be elegant and complex or casual and everyday. But Malbec is Argentina’s claim to fame with a charm all its own. Grapes grow well consistently here and make unqiue exciting wines. And it shows most wines sampled received high ratings.

But, with over a thousand wineries in Argentina someone is bound to cut corners and laugh all the way to the bank. For example a 2005 Cantena Zapata was rated “far from the top”. This big name winery dominates the wine scene and uses this leverage to mark high prices. Is there wine good? Most of the time. Is it priced fairly? No. So how can you be sure to get the best of the best bargain in town? Argentine wines are a great value, especially when it comes to boutique wineries. Carefully crafted limited production wines made with integrity can be excellent with surprisingly low prices.

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.

As is in line with the Anuva philosophy on wine, a wonderful group of Belgian wine tasters joined us on Friday for a sampling of Argentina’s best bottlings and I confirmed my theory on the subjective nature of taste.

We tasted Hom Espumante, Anecon Torrontés, Naiara Malbec, Duriguttui Bonarda, and Las Perdices Don Juan. Wouldn’t you know it, the group was pretty equally divided among what their favorite wines were and accordingly, as their food came out, their preferences went about changing.

The first strong comment of the night came from a woman who said she would never want to drink the Naiara Malbec again. Being a merchant of this product on top of the fact that I am a fan, I was taken aback, but then relieved as the rest of the group came to my rescue. The other 6 tasters really liked the Naiara and an interesting discussion ensued over taste. Which led to a discussion of European wine, then Belgian beer.

Man do we need some more Belgian beer here! Does anyone disagree that it is the most tasty beer ever? Maybe my micro-brewer friends from Portland, Oregon…

Two lovely couples joined me on Wednesday for a sampling of 6 exquisite wines. I really got to thinking though, about the idea of renewable energy and how it relates to wine after the conversation over malbec, torrontés and bonarda turned to nuclear power as we had two nuclear engineers on our hands for the tasting.

As an aside, the word “isotope” and “uranium”, seldom used at wine tastings, did make some timely cameos at this fair event, uttered by yours truly, in a reach back into the long term memory banks from OChem and Physics in college. I’m glad that paid off!

In my humble estimation, wine gives energy to people through hope, enjoyment and the ever present “social lubricant” effects of alcohol. Wine, especially new wine that people have at a wine tasting for the first time, conveys a contagious excitment to the tasters and group and even those who do not consider themselves wine enthusiasts or connoisseurs become captivated by the mysteries of fermented grape juice. This certainly happened to me when I came to Buenos Aires in 2004 which prompted me to go to Mendoza immediately.

In addition, the direction that the wine industry in Argentina is going piques the interest of many. Production volumes, types of varietals and price points have been discussed at virtually every wine tasting. And thankfully, vines last at least one hundred years and keep producing better grapes as they age… another form of renewable energy.

It’s a lovely thing to witness the American family on vacation together in Buenos Aires. We had such a visit from last night from a family of 4 (the “kids” are obviously grown otherwise they would not have all come to a wine tasting).

The interesting, but not so surprising thing to me, were the reactions of Dad, Mom, Son and Daughter to the same wines. Dad liked the reserve malbec blend (Don Juan) while Son liked the the young malbec (Naiara). Daughter liked the Finca Morera Cabernet Franc while Mom liked the Anecon Torrontés. They do all agree that the beef in Argentina is stellar, however.

The Anuva philosophy about wine has always been one of a personal and subjective approach. There is no “right” answer when it comes to wine, only what you like. We like Malbec, Bonarda and Torrontés and wine from Argentina in general. So much so that we decided to make a living selling it.

Receive updates vis RSS!