Richard Mark James' wine & travel blog
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Argentina: Septima, Las Piedras, Calle, Vistalba, Orfila; Malbec, Torrontés, Cabernet, Tempranillo; Zuccardi, Trapiche, Schroeder, Toso, Fournier, Bosca, Lurton, Alpamanta, Bousquet, Dona Paula, Catena, Andeluna, Alta Vista, Salentein, Callia, Sophenia, La Riojana, Torino, Sta Anna, Trivento, Masi, Sta Julia, Viñalta, Las Moras, Viñalba.

A couple of 'Malbecs of the moment' (Catena, Viñalba) November 2015...
Doña Paula Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: "Cab of the mo" April 2015...
November 2013: "All the latest from Argentina on this blog now condensed into a handy special supplement that you can BUY FOR £2.50 (about €3.50 or less than $4) - this material isn't free2view any more! Use the PayPal button below to pay by card or your own account, although you don't need one to do so; I'll email the report as a PDF file when payment is confirmed:




Cabernet, Tempranillo, fizz... (Nov 2013) "'Malbec from Argentina' is hogging the fashion limelight nowadays, and a good deal of this sizeable country's vineyard area on the simplest level; and Syrah has also now invaded the varietal catwalk here. But we shouldn't forget another better-known mainstay red variety, and often more successful in quality, consistency and style terms; good old Cabernet Sauvignon..."
Buy my special 12-page report to read the full works for £2.50 using the PayPal button above - including wines from Zuccardi, Trapiche, Schroeder, Toso, Fournier, Bosca, Lurton, Alpamanta, Bousquet, Dona Paula, Catena, Andeluna; and Alta Vista, Salentein, Callia, Sophenia, La Riojana, Torino, Sta Anna, Trivento, Masi, Sta Julia, Viñalta, Las Moras also featured in the articles on Malbec and Torrontés below as well.

Malbec report (Sept 2013): "Argentina and Malbec apparently go together like, erm, bucket and spade, Chablis and Chardonnay or Cahors and Malbec even, while I'm on the 'M' subject. Let's get the geeky stat stuff out of the way first off: nearly one-third of the country's vineyard surface area is planted with Malbec..." 40 Malbecs tasting-noted "so you don't have to!" Click on the title: buy the full-monty report as above.

Tasty Torrontés (Aug 2013): "A swift blast of Google-ing resulted in the discovery that "... three Torrontés varieties exist in Argentina..." and these aren't genetically related to the Torrontés you find in Galicia, northwest Spain, as I'd assumed, but are apparently a crossing of Alexandrian Muscat and another variety (Mission or something else depending on which one)..." Click on the title to read more and discover my half-dozen favourites... Buy the special supplement as above.

Even more Argentina archived here:
"Soy Argentina" @ Alexis bar & grill, Dublin (March 2010) - Dun Laoghaire restaurant review featuring 2008 Finca la Linda Viognier from Luigi Bosca...

Winery snapshots

Bodega Septima - Mendoza
I met their export manager Marcelo Marasco at the London Wine Fair (May 2010), who said Septima (owned by the almost quietly impressive Catalan Codorniu group) has "the highest vineyards in Mendoza, at 1000m (=3300ft: not the only ones claiming that, see below), in Luján de Cuyo, and further south in Uco at 1400m..." Anyway, their wines are pretty good, especially the "Seventh Day" label. Shortly available in Wine Rack stores in the UK, I'm reliably informed (the new improved independent WR, not the old dead Thresher group ones...) and via AV Brands Inc. in the US (MD).
2009 Malbec - nice "inky" cranberry fruit, quite intense with spicy liquorice notes; firm palate with perfumed fruity vs smoky edges, attractive style. 87+
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon - quite rich and structured with some vibrant cassis fruit, although less charming than the above in the end.
2008 Septimo Dia Malbec - a touch of oak on the nose vs again lively characterful fruit; hint of spicy grainy oak on the palate yet quite concentrated vs firm and closed up finish. 89
2008 Septimo Dia Cabernet Sauvignon - spicy cedar notes vs pretty intense cassis and black cherry; again has firm and grainy mouth-feel vs fair concentration and oomph. Needs a year to open up a bit.90+
2008 Gran Reserva (MalbecCabernet SauvignonTannat) - oakier still but pretty concentrated, difficult and inexpressive at the moment but promising...
www.bodegaseptima.com

Las Piedras Pura Vid & Bodega Calle - Mendoza
Not sure what, or if there is even, the connection is between these two wineries, but they were sharing a booth on the huge Argentina stand at the London Wine Fair back in May 2010. They both appear to be represented and part-owned by the mighty American importer Southern Wine Group and are located in Mendoza (like much of the Argentinean wine industry in fact): Las Piedras in Barrancas, Maipú and Bodega Calle in Mayor Drummond, Luján de Cuyo. The former was created by Giovanni Vincenzo Pannunzio, who emigrated from Italy in the 1950s, and is now run by his sons José and Luis. The estate totals some 70 ha/170 acres (including a smaller, recently planted vineyard in San Martín) mostly with Malbec followed by Cabernet, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Viognier and Chardonnay. Over to those wines:
2009 Pannunzio GV Malbec - vibrant currant-y fruit with lush smoky edges and spicy too; attractive concentration and depth of fruit vs a touch of tannin grip and oomph. 88+
2009 Pannunzio GV Cabernet Sauvignon - rich and juicy with lovely cassis aromas/flavours; again shows good concentration and style, lush vs firm mouth-feel and well-balanced finish. 89-91
2009 Bodega Calle Alberti 154 Malbec- "inky", spicy and intense with cranberry, raspberry and liquorice; delicious fruit and spice vs big firm mouth-feel. Promising. 90+
2009 Bodega Calle Alberti 154 Cabernet Sauvignon - wilder and smokier profile with rich cassis and biscuit tones; solid and powerful finish, also needs a couple of years to open up. 90+
laspiedraspuravid.com / bodegacalle.com /facebook.com/BodegaCalle

Domaine Vistalba / Fabre Montmayou - Mendoza & Patagonia
Based in Luján de Cuyo province just to the north of Mendoza city, Vistalba's founder Hervé Joyaux Fabre, originally from Bordeaux and settled in Argentina in the early 90s, started by buying a chunk of what are now over 100 year-old Malbec vineyards. He built a new winery in the middle of them on this elevated plateau landscape at 1150m altitude (3800 feet), and now has 53 hectares (130 acres) of Malbec, 20 ha (50 ac) of Cabernet Sauvignon and some Chardy and Merlot too. They've since added vineyards and a winery in Patagonia, Rio Negro, in the deep south to the family portfolio. I tasted their top Malbecs and Cabernets, and a "Grand Vin" blend of both varieties (with a splash of Merlot thrown in), at the London Wine Fair (May 2010).


2008 Reserva Malbec - shows a bit of coconut oak vs nice peppery black and red fruit profile; smoky richness vs solid dry mouth-feel vs good balance of attractive fruit and oomph; finishing with lingering tobacco, raspberry and liquorice tones/flavours. 87+
2008 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - juicy and ripe cassis aromas/flavours with "inky" intensity; firm structure and power vs touches of chocolate oak underpinned by nice currant fruit. 87+
2008 Gran Reserva Malbec - shows more choco oak yet definitely lusher mouth-feel too; very chunky and grippy still with underlying dark spicy fruit. 87-89
2008 Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - lovely cassis and dark plum fruit, again big solid palate vs concentrated and structured; promising, needs 1-2 years to open up. 89-91
2007 Grand Vin (MalbecCabernet Sauvignon + 5% Merlot) - pretty coco oaky nose and texture; chunky, dense and concentrated though with a bit of wow on the finish. Not sure about the amount of oak but there's plenty going on underneath, it seems... 90+?
www.domainevistalba.com

Orfila - Mendoza
Orfila has been going since 1905, and their winery and vineyards are found in San Martín about 45 km southeast of Mendoza city... I'll tell you more if I ever go to Argentina, as their website doesn't say much apart from a load of corporate blah blah. At least, I think so from my limited Spanish: I couldn't find a click here for the English version button? Anyway, their range comes in four levels - I'm always a bit wary of wines called "Roble" or oak, as that's all some of them taste of, although the top two tiers, "Solar" and especially "Cautivo" are worth a go. The latter branded Malbec, for instance, is sourced 80% from the Valle de Uco and the rest from the Valle Central with 60% of the wine aged for 10 months in French oak. And for the Solar, 40% of it aged for 8 months in American oak with more of the fruit from the Central Valley. I tasted a few Malbecs and Cabernets across their range at the London Wine Fair (May 2010) and highlighted these three:
2008 Malbec - a touch baked on the nose; ripe vs vibrant cranberry palate with minty raspberry notes too, has a bit of power and grip but it's quite easy-going. 80+
2007 Solar de Orfila Malbec (14%) - smokier and richer with firm tight palate, not very oaky actually with punchy finish. 85
2007 Cautivo de Orfila Malbec (14.5%) - quite complex, rich and smoky with darker spicier profile; light chocolate oak texture vs dry grip, nice intense and spicy red vs black fruit finish. 86-88
www.orfilawine.com