Making The Case For Argentina’s Vinous Treasures

Sure, anyone reasonably knowledgeable about wine knows that Argentina is best known for malbec. That easy to pronounce, barbecue-friendly, and big red grape is a noble grape to hang a reputation on. 

But some of the most interesting wines coming from Argentina, have little to do with malbec. There are a bevy of wonderful tannats, bonardas, and cabernet francs, in addition to cabernet sauvignons, pinot noirs, and syrahs, not to mention white grapes like chardonnay, torrontes, and more than a few others. Argentinean wine is better than ever before, built on a solid foundation of malbec (typically from Mendoza), but the expansion of newer (to us) regions like Salta or Patagonia, as well as some winemakers forging new ground with specific vineyard sites and experimental wines, Argentina just might be the next big thing – again!

Want an excuse to do a little early-season barbecuing? April 17 is World Malbec Day. 

El Esteco Michel Torino 2013
Don David Malbec, Mendoza

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The Best In Class malbec at the 2016 Alberta Beverage Awards, and it’s easy to see why. Rich, generous plummy fruits with silky smooth tannins and a lovely overall juiciness about it. Well-crafted malbec, sure to be a hit at your next barbecue. CSPC 774961 $17

Ben Marco 2013 Expressivo
Uco Valley

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One of my personal favourite red blends from Argentina. Malbec with 30 per cent cabernet franc and 5 per cent cabernet sauvignon, the nose is redolent of mocha, cherries and blackberries with tar and spice tones layered throughout. Palate is rich and expressive (like the name says) with deep, earthy tannins. Drink now or cellar 10+ years, try with a roast or game meats. CSPC 723867 $45

Colomé 2013 Estate Malbec
Argentina

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Quite earthy with ground coffee, cocoa powder, leather, smoke, and black liquorice aromas. Over a year of barrel aging brings a little more flavour integration, but the tannins are still quite prominent. Solid, age-worthy malbec suitable for virtually any cut of beef – grilled, roasted, or braised. CSPC 956896 around $26 or so

Susana Balbo 2015 Crios Malbec
Mendoza

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Well-priced, and full of peppery spice characters and a lushness to the fruits, giving it somewhat of a currant jellyness with gingerbread and molasses. Tannins are a little on the firm side, but raring to go with some burgers or some prime rib. CSPC 719752 about $22

Susana Balbo 2014 Crios Torrontes

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Torrontes is a tragically underrated grape, and considered by some to be Argentina’s flagship white grape. Lime, peach, and apricot fruits on nose and palate, with milder flavours of clementines, and a trace of salinity. Tight and zippy, so enjoyable. CSPC 719748 $22

Clos de los Siete 2012, Mendoza

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A deservedly well-known blend from Argentina made mostly from malbec along with syrah and a few other Bordeaux varietals. Intense aromas of plummy fruits with blackcurrant and cherry, along with a decidedly chocolate and coffee bean earthiness. Still pretty youthful, it’s worth hanging on to, though will really shine with grilled or roasted meat. CSPC 128710 $25

Catena Alta 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
“Historic Rows,” Mendoza

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Never thought I’d go to a premium Catena tasting and have my hands-down favourite bottle be a cabernet sauvignon. Possibly the finest tasting cabernet I’ve had in recent months, I was blown away by classic cabernet aromas and flavours without any “greenness” to the fruit. Balanced, expressive, and ready to go now if cellaring isn’t your game. Match with a flatiron steak if possible. CSPC 521831 $44

Luigi Bosca 2015
A Rosé is a Rosé is a Rosé

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You’d think since Argentina has all this malbec, even their rosés would use it. Not so, this is a blend of pinot gris and syrah leaving a beautiful copper hue to be admired in the glass. Honey aromas, and quite spicy too with red apple fruits and a bare hint of summer fruits. Dry, fresh and lively, with a spicy back end, would work very well with pork or grilled veggie skewers. CSPC 779623 $22

Weinert 2006 Malbec, Mendoza

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No, that isn’t a typo, the 2006 vintage is currently on shelves – showcasing the development and longevity of good malbec. Weinert is known for producing a more traditional style of wine, so look for rustic aromas leaning toward earthiness and smoke with still-generous berry fruits. Even about ten years old, tannins and acids are going strong. Decant if possible and enjoy with grilled or braised meats. CSPC 390757 About $22

Michel Torino CUMA 2015
Organic Malbec

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Fans of malbec will love this expression. Leather and spice undercurrents are covered by intense blueberry and plum fruits – with a little Saskatoon berry for good measure. Plenty of tannins, sweetish fruits, and well balanced – for those that like their malbec a little juicy. Pair with – what else? Steak frites, or a nice prime rib. CSPC 885418 $17

Decero 2013 Malbec
Remolinos Vineyard, Mendoza

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A wonderfully dour and brooding malbec. Smoke, leather aromas, with a slightly resinous earthiness, lead into black plum, cassis, and floral scents, all flowing easily into one another. Bolder tannins suit the flavours along with some prominent acids. Should work very well with braised meats, a brisket, or really good hard cheese. CSPC 119586 $22

Zorzal 2015 EGGO Franco, Mendoza

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I’ve had the distinct pleasure to try a number of excellent cabernet francs from Argentina, and the same conditions that make malbec so perfect here apply to cabernet franc too. Ripe fruits with a little spice, perfume, and a touch of nuttiness, it’s a great find for those loving the franc. Serve with meats grilled, smoked, or roasted. CSPC 776338 about $30-32

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