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_377778Bottle Size: 750mlThe 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_381180Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "Produced with grapes from one vineyard in Chacayes in the Valle de Uco, the 2016 BenMarco Malbec is floral, spicy, aromatic, showy and expressive, with great freshness and lots of aromatic herbs, black pepper and flowers. This has both good ripeness and freshness, with very fine tannins. It's a short (the shortest!) vintage with moderate alcohol but good concentration. 200,000 bottles produced. In the last few years, this has been sourced from Altamira." Ben Marco has been one of our favorite value-priced Malbec’s for some time. Showcasing rich, dark fruit and silky tannins, this is a delicious, crowd pleasing wine. It has the concentration and juicy flavors we love along with impressive lift and vibrancy.
- Item #: i_383915Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93This is the new release of El Enemigo Cabernet Franc from one of the most celebrated winemakers in the world, Alejandro Vigil. Alejandro holds the highest rating ever given to a pure Cabernet Franc wine by Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate, 100 Points awarded to El Gran Enemigo Cabernet Franc from Gualtallary, Mendoza.
What a pleasure to enjoy this wine! The nose is complex, loaded with dark red and blue fruits, a touch of blood orange and notes of forest floor, anise and balsa wood. In the mouth, silky tannins merge into a sexy viscosity as lush fruits lead to layers of earth, black tea, graphite and minerality. Brisk, balancing acidity keeps this wine uplifted and vibrant as red and dark berries take their curtain call at the finish, bowing to extended applause, the flavors lasting and lasting. Bravo!
El Enemigo is a project from two romantics, a winemaker (Alejandro Vigil), and a historian (Adrianna Catena), who go back in time to capture an era when European immigrants recently settled in Argentina, sought to make wines as fine, and finer than those of their homelands.
Adrianna grew up drinking Old-World Bordeaux with her father (Nicolas Catena). She will never forget the first time dad got a shipment of wine from France, and opened a bottle of Cheval Blanc for her. Alejandro served Angelica Zapata Cabernet Franc at his wedding. It's as if both Alejandro and Adrianna were born with a taste for the peppery aromas, grainy tannins and freshness of this variety.
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The 2015 El Enemigo Cabernet Franc was produced with fruit from Gualtallary, from a specific 8.8-hectare plot of the Adrianna Vineyard. It fermented in two tries with a portion of full clusters. It has a beautiful nose with plenty of spices and herbs and some Pinot-like red fruit. The palate is harmonious and balanced, with very fine tannins and a velvety texture."
- Item #: i_377824Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 95JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "Aromas of spices, smoke, berries and bark follow through to a medium body, medium round tannins and a wonderful finish. Love the finish of this, which gives a hint of walnuts, dark tea and ripe fruit. Very sophisticated. A blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon."
Bodegas Caro was born of an alliance between two wine cultures, (French and Argentine), two noble grape varieties, (Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec), and two royal families of winemaking, (Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena.) The name of the winery, Bodegas Caro is a contraction of the two family names, CAtena and ROthschild. Their plan was to produce a wine that would combine their expertise and the signature grapes of each producer. Together, these families have made a wine which delivers immediate gratification and can also be cellared over the mid-term.
Malbec is a powerful, exuberant fruity grape variety that benefits from the structure and elegance given by the Cabernet. These two grape varieties go well together with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Bodegas Caro has succeeded in making a wine that is flat-out gorgeous and immensely satisfying.
- Item #: i_380673Bottle Size: 750MLTIM ATKIN 94 POINTS - "Reflecting the freshness and “European” balance of one of the coldest ever growing seasons in Argentina, this cuvée of Malbec and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon has less of the former variety than usual in the blend. It’s another superb wine from Fernando Buscema with sinewy tannins, good fruit focus and refreshing natural acidity. 2020-28."
WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - " The 2016 Amancaya is a blend of 70% Malbec, a little higher than normal, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from Agrelo and Altamira from the coldest vintage on record. It fermented with neutral yeasts, and half of the volume matured in concrete vats while the other half was racked into French oak barrels, 10% to 15% of them new, for 12 months. There are some notes of leather and earth that give it a rustic twist. It has a mixture of red and black fruit and a medium-bodied palate with fine tannins but doesn't have the freshness I was expecting from a 2015."
60% to 70% Malbec, 30% to 40% Cabernet Sauvignon
Deep ruby color. The nose is expressive with notes of red fruits, coffee and black pepper. Complex on the palate with aromas of plums, fruit and spices, this well-balanced wine is an elegant expression of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Item #: i_383147Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96We've scored a great deal on another excellent wine for lovers of the full-bodied classics of the world, from St. Emilion to Ribeira del Duero, from the Tuscan coast to the North Coast of California! This time it's Argentina that's delivered the value, and from a pedigreed source. James Suckling describes our featured wine as having "aromas of blueberries, blackberries and black truffles" and a "tight and chewy structure" with a "fresh and lively finish" and a "hot stone undertone." Such a high-quality wine, with restraint in fruit ripeness, depth of stuffing, and not least, balance, are signs of veteran winemakers.
The project BUSCADO VIVO O MUERTO (Wanted Dead or Alive) comes from the founders of the dynamic TintoNegro winery, Alejandro Sejonovich and Jeff Mausbach, who were long-time colleagues at the famous and highly regarded Argentinian winery, Catena Zapata. The name of this most recent project refers to their search for new, frontier vineyard sites in the Uco Valley, spots where no one was working. In the highest reaches, 5,000 feet up in the Andes foothills, they found something special in the area of Gualtallary. The wine they make from the site, "La Verdad" (The Truth), is a combined fermentation of Malbec and Cabernet Franc using native yeast, and mellowed in large, mostly seasoned French oak barrels. The result is a delicious and deep wine that's driven by the grapes and the site (with some careful shepherding by the winemakers, of course). We'll let Luis Gutierrez of The Wine Advocate bring it home!
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "One of two wines from Gualtallary, the 2015 La Verdad Gualtallary is a co-fermentation of Malbec and Cabernet Franc from a 25-year-old vineyard at some 1,500 meters in altitude, which usually produces very fresh wines. The whole range is produced and aged in a very similar way to highlight the differences provided by the different places. My favorite of the 2015 collection, it has great freshness, super fine tannins and great minerality. This comes from cold soils that produce serious wines."
- Item #: i_382549Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "As traditional as it gets, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon was kept in the winery until Patti thought the wine was ready to drink. He's in search of an elegant, classical and polished wine that still keeps the varietal character but does not show the effect of the wood. The color, aromas and flavors are quite developed, nuanced and polished, with complexity and detail. It does have the herbal and spicy character of the grape (all the textbook descriptors are there: tobacco, forest floor, something herbal) and the warmth of the vintage and the place. It's harmonious, with moderate alcohol and good freshness. It's just delicious, like a trip to the past."
- Item #: i_382519Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "The 2015 Malbec is a classic from Perdriel in Luján de Cuyo, fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in a combination of concrete vats and used oak barrels. 2015 was a slightly warmer vintage than 2014, and the wine shows round, with juicy fruit and still primary flavors of ripe berries and faint spices. The palate is sleek and lush, soft and caressing, easy to drink."
- 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_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_377265Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91James Suckling: 92WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The fresh, floral and expressive 2016 Catena Malbec blends grapes from different parts of Mendoza: Lunlunta, Agrelo, Altamira El Cepillo and Gualtallary. It fermented in stainless steel and matured in French and American oak barrels for an average of 12 months. It's straight and a little austere but has deep flavors. Superb quality for the price and volume. 984,000 bottles produced."
- Item #: i_380164Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92+WINE ADVOCATE 92+ POINTS - "...from the Villa Bastías vineyard in Tupungato. It fermented for 25 days and matured in a mixture of French and American oak barrels for nine months. It has strong aromatics with plenty of balsamic notes and something herbal. It has a soft, caressing palate and is dry and serious but easy to drink. Very good value."
- Item #: i_377302Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93James Suckling: 93JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "Wonderfully fresh violets on the nose with just a hint of clove. Rich, powerful, creamy and fresh, with a long, polished finish. A serious Argentinian malbec with great balance."
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS
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_382774Bottle Size: 750mlCocodrilo is a new project from Paul Hobbs, with this wine appearing for the first time in the United States. This Cabernet-dominant blend boasts an enviable combination of power and finesse. It is full-bodied with pure, concentrated fruit and is certain to please Hobbs' many fans. Paul Hobbs is well-known for his exceptional California wines, crafting masterful renditions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. When visiting Argentina in 1989, Paul became enamored with its people, the culture and the huge potential for viticulture. He and his Argentine partners founded Viña Cobos and helped take winemaking in Argentina to a new level. He has had great success making premium priced wines and Cocodrilo demonstrates his ability to make a compelling Bordeaux-style blend at an affordable price.
Opaque purple in color. An aromatic display of exotic spices and concentrated black fruits including black currant and black cherry along with notes of cedar and baker's chocolate. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied with mouth-filling crème de cassis, ripe black cherry and blackberry flavors. The tannins are fine-grained and oh so silky. The wine demonstrates stunning purity and finishes with noteworthy length; very impressive.
- Item #: i_380683Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 91James Suckling: 92JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Brimming with blueberry, violet and bitter chocolate notes, this is an extravagant yet very fresh and well-structured expression of Salta malbec. If you can give it until 2020, then the bold, dry tannins will soften and may make it more elegant. "
WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "The 2016 Malbec Estate is a blend of grapes from their four terroirs at 1,750, 2,300, 2,700 and 3,111 meters in altitude. It fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured for 18 months in French oak barrels, 10% of them new. All Salta wines have intensity and ripeness, and this is no exception. But the challenge is to find elegance and balance, which this one does nicely within its XL style. It is dark and heady yet harmonious. "
"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.
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_381178Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 90Decanter: 93 PointsWe have enjoyed Susana Balbo's Crios wines for years and it's easy to figure out why... These are very well made, immensely flavorful wines that showcase the terroir of their homeland while not costing a fortune-- bravo for this bang-for-a-buck beauty!
Susana Balbo not only became the first female enologist in Argentina after graduating with honors from Don Bosco University in Mendoza in 1981, but also was brave enough (or crazy enough as some would have thought at that time) to build an export category for Malbec when no one knew about this grape variety.
Crios is a brand that combines the sensibility of Susana's 30+ years of experience with her never-ending quest for innovation. Born in Argentina, a large country with a wide range of climates, soils and altitudes, Crios wines are harvested from specific areas in Mendoza and Salta where grapes are optimal for the fruit-forward style of the focus on for this brand.
Our notes: "Dark red and black plums on the nose, joined by midnight garden floral scents, blackberry, dark spices, black licorice, herbal notes. Lush texture in the mouth with rounded, soft tannins and light acidity on the finish. The palate reiterates the nose with tons of mixed black fruits, vanilla bean and lighter spices. Soft red and blue fruits on the long finish." Pair with tuna steak, lamb, hamburgers.
DECANTER 93 POINTS - "Paz Levinson: What a cracking wine! Black plum and violet aromas lead to a fresh and crunchy palate, with balanced alcohol. Fresh, pure – and amazing value. Patricio Tapia: Incredible value here. This is a pure expression of Malbec, with aromas of violets and filled with cherry notes. An impressive expression of the grape. Drinking Window 2018 - 2020"
WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "The 2017 Críos Malbec saw a change in the range, where the oak staves have been discontinued and only 30% percentage of the wine aged in well-seasoned neutral oak barrels. This is perfumed and juicy, with nice ripeness and a tasty palate. It is very accessible and comes from a typical vintage in which the wine managed to maintain moderate alcohol. 2017 was a low-yielding year, the second shortest in the last few years."
Susana not only became the first female enologist in Argentina after graduating with honors from Don Bosco University in Mendoza in 1981, but also was brave enough (or crazy enough as some would have thought at that time) to build an export category for Malbec when no one knew about this grape variety.
Susana elaborated this distinguished variety which stands out for its notes of black cherries, spices and violets.
In a few words:
FRUITY WITH SPICY NOTES.
- Item #: i_382608Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 96JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - "This is a generous and juicy red with gorgeous fruit. Shows reserve and balance. A wonderful tangy, light orange peel and light foie gras. Full to medium body. Fantastic finish. Clear and meaningful. Drink now."
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_382548Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 92JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Very interesting aromas of dried-fruit, figs and hints of walnuts and spices. Medium to full body, firm and silky tannins and a long, caressing finish, which shows finesse and structure."
Cuvelier Los Andes is a project from Bordeaux's legendary Cuvelier family, owners of Le Crock, Camensac and Léoville-Poyferré. It is bright purple-colored, with an opaque center and a muted nose that requires plenty of air and coaxing to unfurl the heady, ripe black fruit and violet aromas with a lactic overtone. It has a full-bodied palate and a lush texture, thick and dense, with good acidity, freshness and balance. This is a very good, powerful Malbec at a very good price.
- Item #: i_381497Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 90WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "60% fermented in 100% new French oak barrels for 11 months, the rest remains in stainless steel tank, after full malolactic fermentation. This wine displays dark fruit, blueberry, currant, pot pourri, toasted tobacco, leather, complexity. Rich but supple, ripe, and velvety on the palate, it will offer prime drinking from 2012 to 2020."
The winery is owned and operated by Baptiste Cuvelier and his Dad, of Château Léoville Poyferré situated in St Julien in the heart of the Médoc. “...Best Cab I have ever tasted from South America!” Patty Quick, Wine Buyer for Hi-Time Wine Cellars.
- Item #: i_380419Bottle Size: 750MLWine Spectator: 91James Suckling: 91JAMES SUCKLING 91 POINTS - "A juicy and fruity wine with berry and cherry character. Hints of flowers. Medium to full body. Balance of fine tannins. A blend of malbec, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, merlot and syrah."
WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "A ripe, muscular, full-bodied red, with concentrated dark fruit flavors that feature plenty of Asian spice and smoke notes. Mocha and dark chocolate accents fill the finish. Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2022."
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."