Argentina’s Secret Stash of Wines

Looking Beyond the Malbec Grape


Argentina is a key player on the 21st century wine scene. Hands down, the country is known for making some of the best Malbec wine out there today. The Argentine interpretation of the French grape demonstrates a ripeness and robustness of black and blue fruits that is unequaled.  But what I want to make clear here is that when we talk about Argentina, we should not focus on Malbec alone. By concentrating attention on just one of the things the region does well, we miss out on a trove of superstars. Many of them are widely available at fantastic values.

It was late 19th century European immigrants to Argentina (Italian, Spanish, Swiss) who seized upon the country’s wine potential and set to planting vineyards around the Andes mountains. Grapes are grown at spectacularly high altitudes in Argentina – over 10,000 feet in many cases. Because the region is so new, comparatively speaking, it continues to grow and change at a rapid pace. This is exactly why we must pay extra attention to what’s happening in the evolving region. Here are my top eight picks, beyond the Malbec grape. For a full list of my 2017 wines tasted from Argentina (including the region’s signature grape, Malbec), click here
Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Mendoza
Musky earthy aromas of sandy soil and clay on the nose with hints of peach, melon and dried sage. Continues to be earthy and concentrated on the palate with lemon and grapefruit citrus fruit, floral peach and dried apricot and a pervasive leesy earth throughout that's dusty and drying.
Pinot Grigio
Callia Alta Pinot Grigio Argentina 2016
Lively floral notes of quince, pear, apple and peach on the nose. This is smooth, delicate and a touch zesty on the palate with fresh fruit notes of peach, apple and grapefruit, excellent balance and a pleasant spice on the finish. Wonderful presentation of the grape. 91 pts.
Trivento White Orchid Blend Torrontes Reserve Mendoza 2016
Highly floral aromas of perfumed rose petal and potpourri, fruit notes of fresh peach and lychee. Tropical and floral in the mouth, this is presented with a bold, high acidity and lots of flavor, tart lemon and fresh mango, pineapple and melon with a short finish of dried fruit and more blossom notes. Lives up to the White Orchid name.
Chakana Estate Selection Chardonnay Uco Valley 2018
Fresh green apple and lemon balm aromas with a grassy green note and some tart citrus. Cool and juicy on the palate with lemon, soft melon and green apple fruit, some creaminess and a medium texture in the mouth. Turns a bit warmer on the finish, releasing some pleasant peach notes and a bit of oak spice.
Cabernet Franc
Bodega Lagarde Guarda Cabernet Franc Lujan de Cuyo 2014
Savory earth and dark berry spiced aromas with touches of tomato leaf and crushed violet flower. This is pure, clean fruited and delicate on the palate, a great showcase for the grape with fresh cherry and raspberry fruit, a pleasant baking spice throughout and a finish of structure and finesse, framed by oak and earth. 91 pts.  
Benegas Estate Single Vineyard Finca Libertad Syrah Mendoza 2012
Richly aromatic, darkly fruited aromas of black currant and black cherry, pleasant spice and light flower petal notes. Smooth and bold, creamy textured and tannic, with a sheen of vanilla and oak coating fruit flavors of black currant, blackberry and an endless cacao and brown sugar finish. Lots of depth and complexity with very expressive fruit and excellent texture. 90 pts.
Cabernet Sauvignon
Carmelo Patti Cabernet Sauvignon Lujan de Cuyo 2007
Nice complexity here with savory mineral notes of loamy earth, baking spice and classic black fruit components - mostly black currant and blackberry. Silky, sultry and elegant on the palate with deep fruit notes of black cherry, black current and blackberry, a bit jammy but still quite fresh. This is ten years young today and drinking beautifully, enough age to smooth out any edges and produce creamy textured coffee and chocolate notes, fresh acidity and a plummy, pleasant medium finish. 93 pts.
Red Blend
Domaine Bousquet Gaia Red Blend Tupungato Valley 2013
Smoky, heady aromas of rich mineral earth, dark chocolate and round blackberry fruit. Full bodied and sticky with resinous earth in the mouth, this is full of bold flavors and zesty acidity, blueberry and blackberry fruit, firm tannins and a ripe black currant preserve on the finish. 90 pts.

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