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_383441Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96+Founded 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!
WINE ADVOCATE 96+ POINTS - "After some ups and downs in past vintages, the 2017 Malbec Appellation Gualtallary is every bit as good as the already superb 2017. It's expressive, mineral and vertical, austere, like biting into chalk. It's produced with grapes from a rented plot in a somewhat fashionable appellation that is quite large and diverse. The palate is super austere, dry, serious and mineral, while the nose is expressive and has the wilderness of the place with unusual elegance and freshness for a year like 2017. It finishes long and tasty, with some violets. Could this be their best Gualtallary to date?"
- Item #: i_381180Bottle Size: 750mlBen 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: 750MLWine Advocate: 91WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "Approximately half of the volume of the 2017 Amancaya matured in oak barrels, and the other half was kept in concrete vats for one year. This comes from vineyards in Altamira, and the barrels used for the élevage are mostly in barriques produced by Lafite that have a very light toast, with the idea to preserve the aromatics of the wine and let it breath and provide structure in the élevage without interfering with the aromas. The oak is very nicely integrated and folded into the fruit, and the wine comes through as quite pure and fruit driven, with moderate ripeness and a harmonious palate. This was born as the classical second wine in a Bordeaux sense. This wine is sold in Argentina as Petit Caro. 350,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in December 2018."
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_380678Bottle Size: 750MLRich, satiny, and sweetly fruited from the warm, temperate climate of the Rio Negro region of Argentina, but with a juciness from the acidity that high altitude wines like these have.
JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "A very fresh, juicy and energetic malbec with plenty of ripe plums and red cherries. The texture and lively mouthfeel is impressive."
- 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_383068Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 100WINE ADVOCATE 100 POINTS - "Like the other Malbecs from Adrianna Vineyard, the 2016 Adrianna Vineyard River Stones was bottled a little earlier, and the time in oak was shortened. It was a most unusual year that was cold and rainy and allowed for no irrigation. This has good ripeness and sharp acidity, making it powerful but extremely fresh, with a backbone of acidity that lifts the wine up and makes it extremely long and persistent. In fact, the wine blows me away with an unusual combination of power and elegance; it shows detailed and nuanced, with subtle aromas of violets, spices, tobacco and wet chalk. It has a velvety texture with ultra refined, fine-grained tannins. It is precise in the acidity and on the palate, with the textbook chalky tannins and a sapid, almost salty finish. This is serious, austere, mineral, long, compact, harmonious and concentrated, yet it feels light and has that somewhat contradictory powerful elegance. This has to be the best wine ever produced at Catena. I'd love to have a time machine and taste this wine in 20 years' time... There are some 3,800 bottles of this."
- Item #: i_380164Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The full clusters were pressed, and 80% of the juice fermented in stainless steel while the rest was in oak barrels, then the full volume matured in used French oak barrels for nine months. It has a note of popcorn, a smoky and spicy whiff and a balanced palate where the acidity is very integrated, fresh but with some density."
- Item #: i_380668Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 97WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "Cropped from a cooler and wetter year, the 2016 Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae was bottled with six months less time in oak than in other years. The wines are somehow "lighter" and more mineral, and they didn't want the oak to mark them. This comes from deeper soils that deliver more fruit, and of the three reds from Adrianna, this is always the one that shows more gentle, approachable and open, with more fruit up front. There are some notes of tobacco and spices. Considering how young the wine is and the fact that it will not be released for another year, the wine is going to be immediately appealing on release but should also develop nicely in bottle. The 2016 is the most complete of the three vintages I tasted together—2014, 2015 and 2016. They bottled some 5,000 bottles in March 2018."
- Item #: i_377302Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94James Suckling: 92WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "...fermented in tank with full clusters and finished fermenting after pressing, without skins. It's serious and elegant, with the year's signature freshness. 2016 has really marked the wines with great freshness. This is serious and with zero sweetness, complete and direct. "
JAMES SCUKLING 92 POINTS - "Plenty of cocoa powder as well as violets follow through to some serious tannins that are already well integrated. They and the crisp acidity give the dry finish some assertive power."
- Item #: i_380810Bottle Size: 750ML58% Malbec, 23% Merlot, 10% Cab Sauv, 8% Syrah, 1% Petit Verdot
JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "A fine and fresh wine with blueberries and fresh herbs. Medium body, refined and focused. Linear and tight texture. Very long and bright. Layered and delicious. "
- 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: 750mlWine Advocate: 91James Suckling: 92JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Here is the Salta mountain freshness! A really enticing combination of melon, floral and a wide spectrum of delicate citrus aromas. I love the balance of juicy fruit and crisp acidity that gives the bold, long finish a lot of life. "
The 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: 90Vinous Media: 93 PointsDecanter: 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_382555Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 91Decero, meaning "from scratch", was born of a bare patch of land and a family's love affair with wine. Winemaking in Thomas Schmidheiny's family went back to his grandparents in Switzerland and, just as Napa had inspired his mother, Adda, in the 1970s, so too did Agrelo capture the heart and mind of Thomas, when traveling over the Andes into Argentina, 20 years later.
Starting "decero" was exactly how Thomas Schmidheiny dreamt of beginning a world-class vineyard, free from constraint of tradition and full of passion. Here in Agrelo, the source of some of Argentina's finest red wines, Thomas instinctively knew that he had found the place to continue the family legacy and to handcraft wines whose allure would lie in being true to their origin.
And what a wine we have! The nose is a mix of sweet, dark red fruits, berries, cherries and currant, accented with a streak of spices, cherry liqueur, underbrush and wet rose. Rich, sexy, inviting. The sweet fruits continue in the palate with cherries and cassis in the fore as touches of cocoa wrap themselves in velvety tannins, notes of kriek Lambic and a brushing of minerality and earth. The finish is long but uplifting as the tannins and bright acidity keep the focus upward and onward.
WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS 'SMART BUY' - "Big and rich, with zesty acidity behind the dark plum, blackberry and dark currant flavors. Chocolate nib notes show midpalate, while creamy accents fill the pure, fruit-filled finish. Drink now through 2024. 3,500 cases imported."
- Item #: i_382658Bottle Size: 750mlDark violet color. Blackcurrants and dark plums on the nose with spicy and dried herbs notes Medium to full body with bright acidity, juicy body, and a tannin backbone.CERTIFIED ORGANIC