What to Drink Now: Argentina

There were a handful of winemakers from Argentina in the city recently discussing the individual wine regions of their stunning country and how the beautiful Malbec grape can change from region to region.  People know Mendoza as the predominant area of Argentina making wine, but within Mendoza there are sub-regions with different climates, soils and growing conditions that dramatically affect the flavors in the wine.

Though it isn’t exactly Malbec weather, as I prefer to drink this hearty, dense and luscious wine in slightly cooler temperatures, I couldn’t blame the wine makers for wanting to get out of Argentina in the the middle of their winter.

I have also been drinking some other Argentine wine lately, including interesting sparklers made traditionally from Champagne grapes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and of course, the signature white grape, Torrontes.  Here are the stand outs, a few selections were sent for editorial consideration.

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Tresana Rose Sparkling Wine made from 88% Pinot Noir and 12% Chardonnay in the traditional Methode Champenoise process.  Filled with strawberry and ripe melon with a herbal, earthiness rounding out the flavor of this sparkler from Gabrielli Bodegas y Vinedos, a family with Italian roots making very small production, elegant wine in Mendoza.  I haven’t had a lot of sparkling wines from Argentina I would write home about, this is one. Walter Bressia makes another.  His Bressia Royal Espumante of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay is lush and lively with layers of pear, apple and freshly baked bread.

Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Torrontes is a refreshing white wine from grapes grown in Cafayate, Salta (one of the highest elevations in the country) with the ideal aroma/flavor blend to wake up the palate with wild flower and citrus aromas that lead into a punch of bright citrus and melon on the palate with balanced acidity, great paired with clean flavors in sushi.

Manos Negras Malbec from Altamira, Valle de Uco, Mendoza.  Black Hands in Spanish, Manos Negras is an expressive Malbec from this arid region with poor soil, long sunny days and very high UV rays.  The grapes develop a thick skin to protect themselves from the intense sun light, creating a wine with deep purple color, concentrated cherry flavors with floral, herbal notes and bold tannins.

Kasana Malbec from Lujan de Cuyo in the western part of Mendoza is from very old vines in the region, roughly 83 years old with roots that go down 60 feet into the earth.  A delicate wine with subtle, yet complex aromas of spice, smoke and mineral opening to ripe cherry and spice on the palate.  Made without filtering or fining to keep the true flavors of the wine.

Camino del Inca Malbec from Cafayate, Salta from the lovely Lucia Romero of Bodega el Porvenir with consulting wine maker Paul Hobbs, is an earthy wine filled with concentrated, dried fruit, silky tannins and a velvety finish.  Nicely structured and balanced from some of the highest elevation vineyards in the country.

Zolo Malbec Reserva from San Pablo, Valle de Uco, Mendoza is an intense wine aged 14 months in first and second use French and American oak with wild flower, mint and cherry aromas and flavors of dried cherries, blackberry and plum with cedar and tobacco on the finish.

A new winery was just launched in 2009 called Colores del Sol, Colors of the Sun in Spanish from Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza is a tribute to the dry, sun lit, high elevation of their vineyards creating fruit forward wines with ripe flavors, a full body and balance.  A perfect barbecue wine.