Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world. Argentine wine, as with some aspects of Argentine cuisine, has its roots in Spain. The wines started being exported during the 1990s, and are currently growing in popularity, making it now the largest wine exporter in South America. The most important wine regions of the country are located in the provinces of Mendoza, San Juan and La Rioja. Salta, Catamarca, Río Negro and more recently Southern Buenos Aires are also wine producing regions. The Mendoza province produces more than 60% of the Argentine wine. Due to the high altitude and low humidity of the main wine producing regions, Argentine vineyards rarely face the problems of insects, fungi, molds and other grape diseases that affect vineyards in other countries. This allows cultivating with little or no pesticides, enabling even organic wines to be easily produced. There are many different varieties of grapes cultivated in Argentina, reflecting the country's many immigrant groups. The French brought Malbec, which makes most of Argentina's best known wines. The Italians brought vines that they called Bonarda, although Argentine Bonarda appears to be the Douce noir of Savoie, also known as Charbono in California. It has nothing in common with the light fruity wines made from Bonarda Piemontese in Piedmont. Torrontés is another typically Argentine grape and is mostly found in the provinces of La Rioja, San Juan, and Salta. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and other international varieties are becoming more widely planted.
- Item #: i_377406Bottle Size: 750mlBlood orange complements the ripe red berry fruit, with citrus peel and some exotic spices making this a complex nose. The signature acidity greets the palate upfront, with a whack (in the nicest sense) of fruit weight and grippy but supple tannins on the finish.
- Item #: i_350251Bottle Size: 750MLWINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "The 2007 Finca Mirador was sourced from a 13-acre parcel in Medrano planted in 1921. The yields for this wine were 0.9 tons per acre with the wine aged for 15 months in new French oak. Purple-colored with a superb display of toasty new oak, lilacs, spice box, black cherry, and black raspberry, on the palate it sports an elegant personality, savory flavors, underlying structure, and a lengthy, 45-second finish. It, too, will drink well from 2013 to 2022."
- Item #: i_378352Bottle Size: 750mlAlamos crafts quality wines from Argentina, offering the best of the country's high altitude vineyards at an incredible value. Alamos grapes are grown at the foothills of the Andes Mountains at elevations of 3,000 to 6,000 feet, where intense sunlight, cool evening temperatures and mineral-rich irrigation from mountain snowmelt translate to bright aromatics and rich flavors. Alamos Chardonnay offers flavors of ripe apple, apricot and peach with layers of tropical fruit. Oak aging lent this wine aromas and flavors of brown spice and butterscotch, creating a full mouthfeel and lingering finish.
- Item #: i_377778Bottle Size: 750mlJAMES SUCKLING 91 POINTS - "A medium-bodied red with firm tannins and a fresh and clean finish. Really intense and flavorful. Lovely balance and finesse. One of the best deals out there."
The purple-colored Malbec Blend contains 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Bonarda. The wine was aged in French and American oak. It offers up a nose of cedar, black cherry, and plum leading to a dense wine with plenty of savory black fruit flavor, a forward personality, and good length.
This organic wine is stored in American and French oak barrels for nine months; a quarter of this time is spent in new oak barrels. Rich dark violet colour. Intense aroma of dark berries and plums. The taste has elegant tones of concentrated fruit, coffee and tannins.
- Item #: i_383441Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95Founded in 1995 by a group of Italian wine-making luminaries, including Alberto Antonini of Antinori and Antonio Morescalchi, Altos Las Hormigas has always been evolving. Their pioneering Terroir Project is an integral part of the burgeoning appellation system in Mendoza, and strives to show Malbec's diversity of expression according to its origin. After seeing the immense potential of the Uco Valley, the team decided to stop using new oak and small barriques; and instead go with older, untoasted, large oak foudres across the board. Furthermore, they teamed up with Pedro Parra, who many consider to be the world's foremost authority (and only PhD) in terroir, to find the ideal sites for their plantings as well as a way to assess the ideal ripeness of their fruit. Parra literally dug thousands of soil pits in the Uco Valley searching out the spots with the highest concentration of limestone in the soil, and the results are quite simply staggering!
Luis Guitierrez, in Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, awarded it 95 points, commenting: “The [Appellation Gualtallary] Malbec comes from the hottest place (not in temperature, but in terms of market demand) in the Valle de Uco, where the grapes for the 2014 Malbec Appellation Gualtallary are grown. This is significantly cheaper than most wines of this quality…[the tannins] feel very fine-grained."
We couldn't agree more, and feel that this is one of the best Malbecs we've tasted in a long time. An incredible value at $35!
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The other appellation Malbec comes from the hottest place (not in temperature, but in terms of market demand) in the Valle de Uco, where the grapes for the 2014 Malbec Appellation Gualtallary are grown. This is significantly cheaper than most wines of this quality. I was a little disappointed with the performance of this wine in 2013 and was looking forward to 2014. The soils here are rich in calcium carbonate, but in the shape of caliche (a kind of marl with plenty of chalky material, iron and clay), which provide for more tannic wines. The destemmed grapes fermented in small concrete vats with indigenous yeasts without the use of any pumps. The wine matured in used, untoasted 3,500-liter French oak foudres for a period of some 18 months. It feels fresher, perhaps a little herbal and definitely more ethereal than the Altamira. Yes, it's more tannic, because the tannins are abundant, but they feel very fine-grained. This year I favor Gualtallary over Altamira. There is more complexity here. 9,333 bottles produced and filled after a light filtration in January 2016."
- Item #: i_383919Bottle Size: 750mlThis superb Bonarda offers a nose of intense raspberries with light floral notes. Ripe red berry flavors are combined with a touch of vanilla and lead into a soft, round finish. This wine is perfect as an accompaniment to vegetable and mushroom risottos, pasta with ragù sauce, and oven-cooked lean red meat.
- Item #: i_380823Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92James Suckling: 96JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - "This is great wine with fabulous transparency and clarity showing blackberry, blueberry and floral character. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a superb finish. 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Franc. A wine that gives pleasure now but will be even better in 2020."
WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The one blended wine in the BenMarco line that I tasted was the 2014 BenMarco Expresivo, in this case it's 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Franc from Gualtallary, from a young vineyard that gives low yields. The fermentation was completely natural, without any added yeasts, and the élevage was extended to 14 months, also in used French oak barrels. There is more influence from the élevage here, with some smoky, toasty and spicy notes over the core of violets, cherries and just a tiny herbal twist. The palate shows some abundant fine-grained tannins that point at the need to give it some more time in bottle and enjoy it with some hearty food."
- Item #: i_380185Bottle Size: 750MLJames Suckling: 93Winemaker Notes - "Intense Bordeaux color with brilliant violet hues. Fresh prunes aromas, dry figs and blackberries. Barrel aromas such as tobacco, vanilla and cedarwood. Sweet and velvety tannins. Great volume and body. Cacao, dark chocolate and subtle coffee notes can be found on its long lasting finish. Pairs perfectly with stews, meat, hard cheese, grilled meat, casseroles, pasta, pizza, spicy dishes and desserts."
Blend: 81% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Bonarda
JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "Tight and focused with chewy yet polished tannins and a lovely texture. Shows tension and intensity. Medium to full body. Flavorful finish. Drink now or hold."
- Item #: i_381264Bottle Size: 750mlWinemaker Notes - "The Catena Cabernet Franc Appellation El Cepillo presents a purple color with red ruby tones. The nose offers elegant aromas of spices, and fresh herbs as thyme and rosemary, red berries, cassis and raspberries, with layers of cedar. The mouthfeel is full and rich with cassis, raspberries flavors and notes of black pepper and oregano . The finish is bright and fresh with finely grained tannins. This versatile wine is fantastic paired with rich meat dishes such as stews and braises, Latin dishes with heat and a little kick such as enchiladas or moles and lamb dishes and tomato based pasta and sauces."
- Item #: i_380795Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 96James Suckling: 97JAMES SUCKLING 97 POINTS - "Very deep and dark with enormous concentration but also a lot of finesse. There’s some toast and chocolate from oak, as well as great freshness. Stunning harmony and a very long finish that tells a totally fascinating story. A blend of 73% cabernet sauvignon and 27% malbec."
- Item #: i_377329Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93Vinous Media: 92James Suckling: 94JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "This deep and layered white shows sliced apple, cream and stone flavors. Full body. Dense yet fresh. Long and flavorful."
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The super fresh and elegant 2015 Catena Alta Chardonnay has penetrating aromas and I could swear I smelled wet stones, a soil-driven white that feels cleaner and sharper than the 2014. The palate has electric acidity, moderate alcohol and great freshness. It finishes with an austere, mineral-driven sensation. It would be fun to put this wine as a ringer in a blind white Burgundy tasting..."
- Item #: i_378528Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95The epic tale of the noble Malbec grape is like no other, and the label for Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2015 pays tribute to the variety’s history in France and its rise in Argentina. Four female figures embody different landmarks in the history of the grape. Today, the Catena family's fourth generation leads the high-altitude renaissance in Argentina, returning Malbec to the sky... where it belongs.
Of course this amazing label caught our interest immediately-- but even without such artwork adorning the bottle, we know the Catena family and family of wines because of the utmost quality found within each bottle that bears their name. That there is such a beautiful label, and one that fits well with this time of year, is really gilding the lily. A 95-point wine from the family that put the wines of Argentina on the map-- sounds like a win-win wine to us!
click HERE to enlarge this picture
SYMBOLISM BEHIND THE LABEL
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine represents the birth of Malbec. She is a strong, Old World presence, lingering at the bridge in Cahors, where Malbec came into its own.
Next, the Immigrant symbolizes the movement to the New World and the unknown explorers and adventurers who connected Europe with the Americas.
Phylloxera personifies the death of Malbec in the Old World, which enabled its rebirth in the new.
Finally, there is Bodega Catena Zapata, represented by Adrianna Catena, who depicts birth, earth, and motherhood, sharing the riches of the New World.
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The 2015 Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino blends grapes from Angelica Vineyard in Lunlunta and Nicasia Vineyard in Altamira. It's a classical Malbec that fermented in 225- and 500-liter rolling oak fermentors and matured in French barrique for 18 months. They have changed the image and also the blend for this wine, which is now all from old vines. The label shows the history of Malbec with four relevant women (including Madam Phylloxera!) from the 12th century to the rebirth in the 20th century. This is ripe and heady, very open and expressive, with violets and juicy fruit. This is a new blend to break the tendency of so many single-vineyard bottlings and goes back to the blending traditions of the past. It shows really well—expressive, open and ready. It kept growing and growing in the glass, becoming more focused and even more fresh, at one point getting very close to the freshness of the 2016!"
JANCIS ROBINSON - "Nicolas Catena Zapata is justly credited with putting Argentinean wines on the world map—by the best expedient of focusing entirely on quality. It's great to know he has started a wine dynasty, too."
- Item #: i_377265Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91James Suckling: 92JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Aromas of blackberry and walnut with hints of flowers. Medium body, focused and bright with dried fruit and just a hint of mushroom in the aftertaste. Drink now."
ROBERT PARKER 91 POINTS - "The impressive 2015 Catena Malbec is subtle, balanced and elegant. It mixes fruit from many different zones, with the grapes from the higher part of Valle de Uco fermented with full clusters, the medium part (Vista Flores, lower La Consulta) destemmed and put together with the full clusters from the higher altitude vineyards and the lower parts totally destemmed and in stainless steel. This is a complex blend that showcases the typicity of Malbec in the province of Mendoza with perfumed notes of violets and black cherries, and a touch of spices. The palate has great balance, elegance and subtleness with very fine tannins. Great value for money. The production figures are truly impressive as this is in the ballpark of one million bottles per year." The Catena Malbec presents a deep violet color. This microclimate blend of four unique vineyards offers intense aromas, a soft texture, and concentrated flavor. Deep aromas of ripe red and dark fruits are joined by delicate violet and lavender notes, with traces of vanilla and mocha. A rich, concentrated mouthfeel is highlighted by flavors of blueberries and blackberries with a touch of sweet spice, and leather. The wine finishes with bright acidity, well-integrated and silky tannins, and a flinty minerality that lingers on the palate.
- Item #: i_380668Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 97JAMES SUCKLING 98 POINTS - "This is another phenomenal Fortuna Terrae that just rolls across the palate with amazingly complex and beautiful fruit. Full body yet tight and refined. Berry, light meat, mushroom and truffle character. Made from organically grown grapes. Love now."
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 95+ POINTS - "(from deeper soils than the River Stones bottling, and even higher in acidity; from 22-year-old vines that produced just 1.6 tons per acre of fruit): Bright ruby-red. Crushed blackberry, licorice, minerals and menthol on the nose, lifted by a violet topnote. Penetrating acidity and pungent minerality give the middle palate rapier-like cut. The youthful red berry flavors are compellingly deep and convey an exhilarating tart edge. The rising, palate-staining, floral finish showcases this site's fruit intensity and grip. A great wine in the making. These vines at an altitude of 4,725 feet are planted on calcaire soil similar to that used for the White Bones Chardonnay; the powerful acidity here is just over 5 grams per liter."
- Item #: i_377302Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93James Suckling: 95JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "Aromas of graphite and dark fruit with hints of spice and tea bag. Mushroom too. Full body, yet refined and beautifully textured. Love the low oak impression. Made in mostly concrete eggs. Fantastic. Drink now."
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The blend of the 2014 Catena Alta Malbec changed to adapt to a slightly warmer vintage, and even if the source is the same, Angelica (Lunlunta), La Piramide (Agrelo), Nicasia (Altamira) and Adrianna (Gualtallary), the percentage of grapes from Gualtallary is higher in 2014. They also harvested earlier and the result is a wine with half a degree less alcohol than in the cool 2013 vintage and with slightly higher acidity. The results are magnificent, even if the wine is still very young and lightly marked by the élevage, the texture and the electric acidity provide a superb mouthfeel and surely a long life in bottle. 60,000 bottles produced."
Nicola Catena, immigrated from the Marche region of Italy to Argentina in 1898. In 1902, he planted his first Malbec Vineyard in western Mendoza, an area that has become the heart of Argentina's Winegrowing Region! Today, his Grandson, Nicolas Catena, has been likened to such Industry Icons as Baron Philippe Rothschild, Robert Mondavi and Angelo Gaya! His family winery produces some of the finest wines in the world!
A project that started in the mid 1990's in an effort to produce a super-premium wine, the winemaking team of Catena began an in-depth investigation into the yields from specially selected, high altitude vineyards, identifying the individual rows that produce the best fruit. The Catena Alta Malbec is an assemblage of these historic rows within the Catena family's estate vineyards. Only the best bunches are chosen from these rows in four vineyards with fruit grown at different altitudes (up to 5000 feet above sea-level) to capture the many different expressions of the Malbec varietal. Vineyard lots are harvested at different times to ensure optimal natural acidity and moderate alcohol levels. The blend of these rows, like the blend of musical notes that compose a symphony, creates a wine that is layered and complex, concentrated yet nuanced, and above all else, delicious right now and worthy of further aging!
- Item #: i_381973Bottle Size: 750mlThe true expression of terroir in this Malbec comes from the extreme altitude at which the vineyard sits, it receives much more sun, much less UV protection, producing thicker skinned grapes that deliver a more robust mouthfeel supported by fresh acidity.
- Item #: i_380683Bottle Size: 750MLWine Spectator: 92WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS; #18 WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100 WINES 2017 - "Refined and rich-tasting, with effusive minerality to the red berry and cherry flavors, layered with plenty of creamy accents. Pepper and cigar box notes show on the long and complex finish. Drink now through 2022."
"A Swiss businessman and Napa vintner Donald Hess bought Bodega Colomé in 2001 and immediately set about modernizing the vineyards and winery in the remote Salta region of the Andes, in the north of Argentina. The estate Malbec, a 100 percent varietal bottling, blends fruit from four vineyards ranging from 5,700 to a dizzying 10,200 feet in altitude; the sun exposure at such elevations promotes thicker skins on berries and thus a more concentrated wine. After 15 months of aging in French oak barriques, this wine spent six months in bottle. It's an expression of a daunting terroir at an approachable price." - Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator
- Item #: i_380452Bottle Size: 750mlThe characteristic white wine grape of Argentina has recently been linked with the Malvasia grape vis-à-vis DNA research. And the wonderful aromas released certainly suggest a Malvasia heritage: notes of peach, apricot, honeysuckle and general floral tones; simply beautiful. The palate echoes the florals and again, stone fruits come to the fore, all enwrappedin a light background minerality. With warmer weather starting to make an early appearance, the Colome 2015 Torrontes will bring a touch of early Spring back, a crisp morning in the garden, the trees in bloom, the pond teeming with life.
Substainably farm Vineyards.Sustainable winegrowing not only improves wine quality, but helps to compete in the global market place where consumers are increasingly interested in knowing that the foods and wines they enjoy are produced in an environmentally friendly manner.” Robert P. Koch, President & CEO of the Wine Institute.
- Item #: i_382608Bottle Size: 750mlVINOUS, STEPHEN TANZER 92 POINTS - "Bright medium ruby. Musky perfume of blackberry, dried flowers, graphite, mocha and bitter chocolate, lifted by a mineral element. Sweet, plush and deep; much more pliant than the 2012 Grand Malbec, with less obvious alcohol to mute the wine's intense fruit. Much suaver and more harmonious than the Grand Malbec, finishing with sweeter but serious tannins, a saline nuance and superb length. Just approaching its maturity but I'd still wait another year to pull the cork."
Cuvelier Los Andes is owned by Bertrand and Jean-Guy Cuvelier, part-owners of renowned Bordeaux Chateau Leoville-Poyferre in Saint Julien. The estate is located in the Uco Valley at the foothills of the Andes and encompasses 115 acres of still young vines. The consulting winemaker is Michel Rolland.
- Item #: i_383623Bottle Size: 750mlBright, saturated ruby to the rim. Strong bitter chocolate oak and graphite minerality on the nose, along with primary aromas of crushed blackberry and liquorice. Dense and plush, showing an enticing sweet/savoury balance and lovely minty lift to the primary black fruit and spice flavours.
Grape: 70% Malbec; 10% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; 5% Syrah; 5% Petit Verdot
- Item #: i_382241Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 100James Suckling: 99What do you do if you are already one of the most celebrated winemakers in the world and you have an unbeatable gig? If you are Alejandro Vigil from Catena, you partner with the boss on your new solo project and keep working your day-job too. Alejandro partnered with Adrianna Catena, Nicholas Catena's youngest daughter, to form El Enemigo. Enemigo focuses on high-altitude Cabernet Franc, producing FOUR different Cab Franc bottlings-two Gran Enemigo Single Vineyards, a Gran Enemigo blend, and the entry tier Cab Franc. We'll simplify the line-up a bit and say the "Gualtallary Single Vineyard" is the best of the line and it comes from the extreme high altitude region that helped make Catena famous. There are only 300 six-packs of this rare wine produced. It is midnight black in color and shows a massive palate-weight, but this wine is also truly elegant, only lightly-touched by oak, and very age-worthy. If you open a bottle tonight, we recommend a decanter for 30 minutes to allow the perfumes to open up. All of Alejandro Vigils wines benefit from air and time. That's when the layers and complexity truly emerge.
WINE ADVOCATE 100 POINTS - "I was really looking forward to tasting the 2013 Gran Enemigo Gualtallary Single Vineyard since all of the previous vintages have been truly exceptional, and I wanted to see what it would be in a cooler year. The bottled wine contains perhaps 15% Malbec in the blend, and they will soon stop mentioning Cabernet Franc on the label. It fermented in 500-liter oak barrels with 50% of the Cabernet Franc and all of the Malbec and then matured in used oak foudres. It's very intense and powerful, but at the same time, there is a kind of lightness on the palate that makes if feel light on its feet but with great inner power. There is citrus acidity that makes it effervescent and electric. It has some 7.5 grams of acidity and a pH of 3.45, very healthy parameters. The peppery character appears after some time, giving it a Chinon-like twist, and it also reminds me of my favorite Bordeaux, Pomerol's Lafleur. This is definitely world-class and worth lying down, as it should develop further complexity in bottle. This is one of those wines where the only improvement I can think of is having magnums rather than bottles. Bravo! Some 3,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in March 2016."
JAMES SUCKLING 99 POINTS - "This is a fabulous wine with blackberry, dark mushroom, blueberry and white pepper character. Full body, fine tannins and fantastic depth and length. Goes on for minutes. A magnificent red. Beautiful encore to the superb 2012. Drink or hold."
- Item #: i_378972Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94James Suckling: 98JAMES SUCKLING 98 POINTS - "This is really amazing with an exotic dried-fruit character of pineapple and mangoes. Full-bodied, rich and fruity with cream, pie-crust and caramel character. Crazy chardonnay with a little Jura style and some flor undertones. It really does have flor in the barrel when aging. Love. Get it. Drink now."
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "With an even darker, more intense golden color but fresher aromas and flavors compared to the 2015 vintage, the 2016 El Enemigo Chardonnay has more noticeable notes of curry and nuts, with higher acidity, which gives it somewhat of a Jura character. It has 13.5% alcohol and 7.4 grams of acidity (in tartaric), so, very healthy natural parameters. It had a longer élevage sous voile, up to 13 months, so that probably explains why the yeasty and spicy character is more marked here than in the 2015. Winemaker Alejandro Vigil likes it like this, but he doesn't want more of the flor character, as it's not supposed to be a flor wine. Superb!"