When I was given a selection of Argentinian wines to try I realised that I’d never really tasted anything from this South American country. I had an idea of big, dusty reds that could only be tamed by a hefty amount of red meat. I probably also assumed that Argentinians blood was half red wine and there wasn’t a drop of white to be found. A thread of truth to the assumptions, sure, but not much more than a thread.
Let’s start with a little background, Argentina has a hot, sunny and very dry climate. The best sites will take advantage of altitude in search of cooler temperatures. Argentina’s best-known variety, Malbec, is grown throughout the country, but most widely in the best-known (as the largest exporter) region of Mendoza. Malbec was originally a Bordeaux variety, producing full-bodied wines with medium or high levels of tannins.
A selection of quality Argentinians wines are imported into New Zealand by South2South.co.nz, including the La Celia, Montechez and Alta Vista labels reviewed below.
2010 La Celia Uco Valley Malbec Reserve (14% alc/vol, $25-28 RRP)
A deep, clear purplish wine the Malbec Reserve was intensely aromatic notes of violets and an oregano-dominant blend of mixed herbs. A bone-dry red with medium body, fresh acidity and high, drying tannins, the La Celia is a dark, woodsy wine with flavours of blackberries, basil and damp earth. Served with nice bit of rare steak, I imagine the tannins would smooth out wonderfully. This is best enjoyed now.
2008 La Celia Heritage Malbec (14.5% alc/vol, $55-60 RRP)
An older brother to the previous Malbec, the Heritage has greater maturity and complexity. Deep, dark purple with a powerful array of aromas including blueberry, violet,plum and dark chocolate. As dry as it comes with high tannins and plenty of red and black fruits, the wine is dominated by a spicy, mocha character with more than a touch of oak. A rich, voluptuous red.
Along with the reds, Argentina is also home to the hearty Chardonnay grape that prospers the world over and Torrontés, a white wine grape unique to Argentina.
2012 Alta Vista Premium Torrontés (14% alc/vol $29-30 RRP)
A naturally fruity and fragrant wine, the grape must underwent a two-hour cold maceration, or a cold soak, to help extract the maximum aromatic expression.Clear and pale lemon, the Torrontés is a clean, youthful aromatic collection of white florals, white peach, nashi pear, the sweet spice of cinnamon and a slight touch of citrus lime. A medium-sweet wine with medium-full body, the Alta Vista Torrontés is a fresh, lively burst of crisp acidity and notes of turkish delight, apricot, honey and lemon. A definite crowd-pleaser. Fresh and fruity, this wine is best enjoyed young.
2011 Montechez Reserva Chardonnay (13.9% alc/vol $27-28 RRP)
A rich and creamy Chardonnay, the Montechez Reserva is a clean, pale straw yellow wine with notes of white fleshy pears and apricots, tropical pineapple and zesty citrus. In the mouth it’s medium-sweetness, full bodied and tart acidity. There’s a flavourful intensity of mouth-watering red apple and well-ripened pear all rounded out with just a touch of oak. Overall it’s a really nice example and I would happily try it again.