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Posts tagged ‘Argentinean red wines’

By Giuliano Bortolleto

Undoubtedly, Malbec is the emblematic grape of Argentina. Since the end of the nineteen century, when the first Malbec vines came to the south american country, until the 70 decade of the last century, Malbec vineyards has just grown so rapidly along the country in the same way that the internal demand deeply rised as well (by this time the national consumption reached the unbelieveble number of almost 95 liters per person by year). However, the wine production in Argentina was mostly based on table wines.

As I have already explained on the Red Wines Blog, the argentinean producers, together with the national organisms of vitiviniculture control (notedly the INV and the INTA) has drastically changed its way of producing wines, which incredibly improved the vitiviniculture in there (see th post A Summary of the Malbec History in Argentina). So, by the end of the 90s, the argentinean vitiviniculture started to strongly believe in the potential of the french grape from Cahors and many producers were begining to see the amazing results that they were getting with the combination of the Mendoza’s terroir (the dry climate, the irrigation water from the Andes thawing, the thermical wideness), with the Malbec.

Malbec has became the national grape in Argentina and these wines represent their country in the world wine with full-bodied an great personality, plus the latest years elegancy aquired.

It is important to say about the this red grape capacity of producing many styles of wines. There are some wineries doing sparkling wines, with both varietals or blends of Malbec; there are exemples of fortified wines made with this grape, there are Malbec varietals to be drunk young, other to be kept for a couple of years and there are always good results when it is tried to give the wine a touch of oak resting. But for now, let’s talk about the young Malbecs produced in Mendoza.

The most simple Malbec wines produced in Argentina usually are a little rustic and usually are a bit “savage” in the mouth. That’s because qe are talking about a wine with too much tannins. But, as usually even these young and simple wines get som oak time before got the market, with one or two years resting in the bottle, they got just some simple pasta with red sauce or some condimented red meat. This is one of the favorite styles for the argentinean people. They are very used to drink this kind of wine.

But, be carefull. when it comes to the oak presence in the wine you should pay attention to what you are buying. It is not true that all the young wines receive too much oak into their composition, although there are a lot of bad wines being produced just based on the oak stage, which tunrs the wine into a real oak mess! Normally, the chances of making a mistake buying a bad wine decrease radically when you choose a good and respectfull producer. Actually this is not a rule just for buying argentinean wines, but in every country in the world, even in France or Italy.

So, now, I am going to show a few good examples of simple Malbec wines from Mendoza an tell somethings about the producers so you can now them better. For now, I will just talk about wines with cost less than 15 dollars.

Finca Flichman - Malbec Roble 2007 Price: about US$ 7,90

This is a centenary winery, located in the east of Mendoza. Its wines are very well produced. Their simple wines express the good aromas of red fruits, such as raspberry and cherries. It has spent three months inside the oak barrel, which helps to smooth the wine little. Although it is a rustic wine, it conserves very nice fruit flavours, besides those ones that were brought by the oak contact. Despite it is a little dry in the end, it is one of the best choices in terms of price and quality’s relation.

Trapiche - Varietales Malbec 2007 Price: about US$ 8,30

The Trapiche winery is a very big one also, and has a very long history in the argentinean vitiviniculture. As many wineries in Argentina, used to produce only comun wines, with no quality to attend the national big demand. Now they have very nice facilities and high technology to produce very good wines. This varietal wine, is full-bodied and rustic. Lots of oak notes, like chocolate and some tobaco. Dry end. But very nice price and quality too.

Norton - Malbec Lujan de Cuyo DOC 2007

Price: about US$ 10,50

That’s one of the biggest in Argentina and, despite the others which exports a lot, there is a bottle of a Norton wine in almost every restaurant of the country. This a very nice exmple of an oaky Malbec wine. The presence of the oak can be feeled as soon as you put the wine into the glass. But there is a good fruit also and som pepper notes. It can get better if you wait for some two or three years to open the bottle.

Catena Wines - Alamos Malbec 2007

Price: about US$ 8,30

Now we are talking about one of the best wineries in Mendoza certainly. Mr Nicolás Catena, the company owner, made a great job by selecting the clons of the Malbec grape, in order to obtain the best that the fruit could give and the results were the best you can imagine. Lots of high notes on specialized magazines, like Wine Spectator, were given to the special wines made with Malbec. This one, as I said before, it is not one of this special wines. But it is made by the same winery that is wordly known by the excelence on producing the best Malbec wines from Argentina, so I think you can figure out that this varietal one is not just a comun and simple wine, although is made just for daily consumption. The Alamos Malbec it’s much more complex than the others. A lot of red fruits appear on the bouquet, raspberry, strawberry. Some mint and red pepper can also be noticed. It has a good sweetness, not nauseating, that combined with the tannic potency, creates a great body to the wine. Very easy to drink. And it can be better if you wait one hour with the bottle opened to get the wine a little softer.

Terrazas de los Andes - Linea Verietal Malbec 2007

Price: about US$ 8,30

That’s also a very special winery. It is owned by the french multinational company LVMH. The Moët & Chandon winery came to the country in the 50s and discovered the great climate and soil that Mendoza had. Now their producton is made in order to export the majority. There are really high technology and a really good enologists of staff. This wine is from their varietal line, but when you drink it you might think you are drinking like a “Reserva” wine. Very well structured, complex, very strong fruit aroma and you can barely feel the oak flavours. It is much more soft and mature than the others. It’s really ready to drink.

By Giuliano Bortolleto, january 26th of 2009

You have already noticed that I have talked about the Malbec from Argentina a couple of times this month. I am writing an academic work about this matter and I thought that woulb be interesting to share this knowledge with you. Here I am going to show some very nice Malbecs that I have already tasted.

The argentinean Malbec use to be a very good option in terms of price and quality. That’s because the Argentina have recieved a lot of european investments. Many wine producers from the old world had their attention called to new opportunities of cultivating the vines in other parts of the globe. Many researches were made in order to detect the best terroirs in very different contries. Undoubtedly, Argentina is one of the contries that have received a really great number of external investments in its viniculture, at the 70s, and mostly at the 80s and 90s.

The foreign wine producers helped a lot the argentinean vitiviniculre. They have brought aknowledge, new technics, enologists internationally known who came to work there, and more important, by the begining of the 90s, as the aregntinean economy was passing throught a very good moment, they have also brought high technology in temrs of vitiviniculture, which have put Argentina in a very high degree among the wine producers countries.

Today, Argentina has several foreign producers, disseminating their old culture of producing wines in this new territory, with a fantastic capacity of produce great wines. Mendoza, specially, the principal wine producer region of the country, has the perfect terroir to take care of the Malbec grapes in the best possible way. A great themical amplitude during the day, which garanties a great amount of sugar to the fruit and helps the sap changes, a very dry climate, what is simply amazing to the healthiness of the grape, besides the great high where the fruit is cultivated.

The most wonderfull thing is that the european producers firs wanted just to elaborate wines with some cliché blends, like the Bordeaux’s ones, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot. Other tried to do some experiences with the spanish Tempranillo. In fact, the first internationally rewarded argentinean wines were made from this well-known grapes. However, after the Malbec clonal selection conduced by the INTA (National Institute of Agronomic Technology), many producers stared to believe in the quality of the grape from Cahors. In the latest years, the Malbec potential has sturdily increased, adn the highest level of excelence that this grape can reach is still unknown.

Malbec Grape
By Giuliano Bortolleto, january 22nd of 2009

The viticulture was brought to the argentinean soil, as weel as many other countries colonized by the Spain, by the oficials of the Catholic Church in order to use the wine on the Christian celebrations. The priest Juan Cidrón came from Santiago Del Estero, Chile, was the one who has planted the first grapevine by the year 1554. Since then, the viticulture in Argentina growed rapdly, due to the great number of european imigrants who arrived in the country, bringing whit them the culture of to produce and drink wines.

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2005

However, only in the nineteen century that the Malbec grape “officialy” came to Argentina, when the french agronomist Miguel Aimé Pouget came from Chile to work in the Mendoza province, bringing whith him some seeds of Malbec grape. “Officialy” because it is now known that, by the number of malbec vines that were found along the country in the twenty century, ti is not possible to admit that the first Malbec vine was bought by Pouget. Certainly there was a lot of Mabec vines in other areas of the country.

During the middle of the last century the wine internal consumption reached the impressive number of more than 90 liters of wine wine in a year per person. The Malbec was already known by the majority of the wine consumers in Argentina, in spite of the low quality of wines that were produced by the 60 and 70 decades. Only in the 80s, with the extinction of one third of the vineyards in Argentina, conduced by the INV (National Institute of Vitiviniculture) in order to finish with the poor quality vineyards the quality started to be aimed by a great amount of producers.

Than, in the 90s, the INTA (National Institute of Agrarian Technology) started a clonal selection of the Malbec grapes so that the best species of that grape would be cultivated in the argentinean soil. And the results of these initiatives were tremendously good. Many high-quality wine producers started to believe in the great potencial of Malbec to produce fine wines.

Nowadays the Malbec is so respected in Argentina that it have became the National grape of the country, being the grapes most planted in all the national soil, and its wines take the name of the south american country all over the globe. It’s is very rare now to find some wine reviewer that do not recognize the great quality of the Malbec wines made in Argentina.

Although Malbec is not an autochthon grape, it is rare to find in the New World of wine, in which you can find a so strong identification between the grape and the national culture. The Malbec has paired so perfectly with the argentinean typical food (red meat and barbecue), and is so nationaly appreciated that is dificult even to imagine that this grape came from another country apart from Argentina.

Giuliano Bortolleto, 21th january of 2009

Cheval des Andes | Red Wines

The Cheval Blanc Chatêau is one of the oldest and most internationally recognized wines of Bordeaux. The wine is one of the two “Premier Grand Cru” Class A in the region of Saint Emilion. This famous Chatêau, as many other european producers decided to invest in the New World, in order to find a good terroir to produce a fine blend wine, with a superior quality, as they have France. So, Pierre Lurton, the Cheval Blanc enologist, went to Argentina and found a 76 years vineyard in Mendoza, very able to produce great wines, in terms of quality.

As soon as he found this terrain he thought abou what could be done. So, the Cheval Blanc Chatêau made a partnership with the winery Terrazas de los Andes, which belongs to the french group LVMH (Louis Viton Moet Hennessy), in order to produce a wine that would had the characteristics of the local region (the “terroir”), and a french blend from Bordeaux. The result of that is the Cheval des Andes wine, which appeared in the market in 2003.

The Cheval des Andes firsly had in its composition a litte more than 50% of Cabernet Sauvignon, about 40% of Malbec, an the rest of Petit Verdot. Now, the wine has a larger percentage of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, and a litte amount of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The wine stay for 18 months in french oak barrels of first use.

The wine has a very strong and bright red to purple color. Its bouquet is formidable. A mixture of black and red fruits (strawberry, cherry, mulberry, plum), some mint and also black chilli, and a very refined smell of chocolate and tobaco, due to the contact to the oak. It has a great body, a good consistence and a huge persistence in the mouth. The wine is very unctuous. We can say that this is about a superb wine. And its price is very inviting.

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